Spine Pain Algorithm

We created this Spine Pain Algorithm to help primary care physicians and other health care providers better assess their patients suffering from spine related pain, giving them guidelines on appropriate specialist referrals ensuring the patient does not waste any time getting to the right specialist for early diagnosis and treatment.

(Click on the Image Above for Full Size View)

A Guideline for MRI, X-Ray, and Specialist Referral

We have developed this algorithm to improve the quality of care for patients by informing physicians in the community when to appropriately direct patients to us and when to seek alternative measures. This algorithm will also help save patients time and additional medical expenses by avoiding unnecessary MRIs and/or surgical consults as a first option.

Approximately 85% of spine pain patient referrals can be handled non-surgically. For these patients, we are able to provide the proper diagnosis and treatment plan, while coordinating referrals elsewhere for the very small percentage of patients who may need surgical input. For the patients that do need an MRI, Dr. Sakai has the training and over 8 years of experience to competently review the images in addition to the radiologist’s report, and determine the correct course of action.

For patients with spine pain, we recognize that there has been a tendency to order an MRI and send directly to other specialists first. We seek your trust and confidence in us to be the first specialist you see for the following reasons:

•Dr. Sakai has the credentials, training and experience to properly diagnose and determine an appropriate treatment plan.  Specifically, an MRI is not necessary for a visit with us and may never be needed. Fewer than 1 out of 10 spine pain patients actually need surgery.

• In the few cases that need a surgical opinion, we are happy to refer to the surgeon directly.  Certainly, if you are suffering from cauda equina syndrome, a spine tumor, a spine infection, myelopathy, acute vertebral compression fracture, or a significant neurological motor deficit, you should be referred directly to a surgeon.

• We have been committed to making the process as smooth as possible with wait times under two weeks and we offer same day procedures if appropriate.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at (781) 326-8888.