Kate Edwards, a 57-year-old labor and delivery nurse, can’t recall the exact moment when her neck began to hurt, but it became hard to ignore in 2015. What she does recall is that it began as moderate pain, which she was able manage with over-the-counter medicine.

Over the course of two years, Kate noticed an increase in the duration and intensity of the pain. Then, in June of 2017, it returned with a vengeance, radiating down her left arm and back, leaving her in tears. It was impossible for her to get comfortable, let alone sleep.

“One night, it got so intense that my blood pressure jumped to 160/105, and my husband took me to the emergency room. The doctors gave me prescription pain medicine and told me to see my physician,” says Kate.

She consulted with her doctor who ordered X-rays and magnetic resonance images (MRI) of her neck. With a diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy – a pinched nerve – she was referred to Jason Koh, D.O., a physiatrist with the Spine Health Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center.

The Spine Health Center at Orange Coast Medical Center takes an innovative approach to patient evaluation and treatment. It provides the umbrella under which a range of surgical and non-surgical spine specialists can consult and collaborate for better patient outcomes. Specialists include pain management doctors, physiatrists, neurologists and neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists.

Patients are greeted by a spine concierge who obtains a detailed medical history, collects recent diagnostic images and test results, and schedules an appointment with the physiatrist, Dr. Jason Koh, who triages the patient to the appropriate type of care. Physiatrists, like Dr. Koh, specialize in treatment and rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal system. Physiatrists are also trained in pain management and are familiar with the capabilities of all other spine specialists.

In Kate’s case, Dr. Koh reviewed her X-rays and MRI, analyzed her medical history and conducted a thorough physical exam before determining that she would best be served by a pain management specialist and physical therapist. 

“The Spine Health Center is structured to accurately evaluate and direct each patient to the most effective and conservative treatment possible,” says Dr. Koh. “Direct and consistent communication between Kate’s care team helps us to efficiently coordinate and carry out her treatment plan.”

A dedicated patient navigator works closely with patients like Kate during recovery, scheduling appointments and following up, to make sure the treatment is successful and the patient is satisfied with the outcome.

“After 10 months, I’m still pain free. I’m able to sleep and am back at work without restrictions,” says Kate.


“We always start with the most conservative treatments, like pain management and physical therapy. In many cases, I can give a patient therapeutic exercises to do at home, and the problem resolves without further intervention.”

In 2018, Kate is back to regularly walking her dog, working and even made a trip to Colorado with her daughter.

For more information on the Spine Health Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, please click here

To learn more about advances in treatment for back and spine pain, listen to Dr. Mikhael’s podcast or visit memorialcare.org/podcasts.

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MemorialCare is a nonprofit integrated healthcare delivery system that includes leading hospitals – Long Beach Medical Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Medical Center and Saddleback Medical Center; award-winning medical groups – MemorialCare Medical Group and Greater Newport Physicians; Seaside Health Plan; and convenient outpatient health centers, imaging centers, surgical centers and dialysis centers throughout Orange and Los Angeles Counties.

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