Back Pain suffering relief without surgery

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Center for Back Pain at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute Relieves Suffering Without Surgery

Physical Therapy, Minimally Invasive Interventions and Personalized Approach Brings Relief to People with Back Pain

EDISON, New Jersey — The Center for Back Pain at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is using therapies and pioneering interventions to give people their lives back without surgery.

 The center incorporates advanced, state-of-the-art procedures — such as diagnostic ultrasound, regenerative medicine and image-guided injections — as well as body mechanics, physical therapy, acupuncture, and mind-body medicine to help patients suffering with back pain.

Specialized pain and sports medicine physicians and a range of other health care providers and services work together to create customized treatment strategies for each patient.

“We have a team of specialists specifically focused on back pain,” said Sagar Parikh, M.D., an Interventional Pain Medicine specialist and medical director of the Center for Sports and Spine Medicine (CSSM) at JFK Johnson. The Center for Back Pain is part of CSSM. “Our physical therapists are well trained in bio-mechanics, movement, and exercise therapies. We have nutritionists and mind-body pain therapists. And we have all the equipment right on site. As physicians, we can walk over and consult with a physical therapist during one of our patient’s therapy sessions.”

The comprehensive approach may also include discussion of sleep, regular exercise, and lifestyle modifications.

Dr. Parikh said many patients prefer to avoid surgical interventions. “That’s why we try to optimize function of pain relief without the need for surgery. The vast majority of our patients succeed and don’t require surgery,” he said.

The Center for Back Pain also offers pain interventions that don’t require general anesthesia.

“We can provide intramuscular or epidural injections, image-guided joint injections and radiofrequency ablation of nerves, which decreases pain signals,” said Laurent Delavaux, M.D., a Pain Medicine specialist at JFK Johnson. “The skill comes in knowing which intervention to offer and at what moment.”

Back pain is a common concern. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as a quarter of all American adults have experienced back pain in just three months of the study. Many continue to live with pain because they are unaware of the range of services that could help them regain their function safely and quickly.

“We try to get patients back in the game as soon as possible using a conservative approach,” said Craig Van Dien, M.D., a Sports Medicine-trained physician at JFK Johnson. “A proper treatment course focuses on tissue healing, muscle strengthening and stretching, pain relief and overall functional improvement. We want to set our patients up for success in the long run.”

Sara Cuccurullo, M.D., vice president and medical director of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, said the standard of care for back pain is rehabilitation therapy.

“Back pain is not always effectively treated. We provide a well-rounded approach,” Dr. Cuccurullo said. “The aim is not to mask the pain, but to understand and treat its causes.”

Program leaders are concerned that people who ignore their back pain because they fear seeking treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic may worsen their back pain and suffering.

“We are open and working everyday with our rehabilitation patients,” Dr. Cuccurullo said. All treatment and physician visits are done in a safety-first environment and under strict socially distancing protocols throughout the rehabilitation institute. Additionally, telehealth visits can be arranged when appropriate for patients.

For select patients, surgery may be the correct course. The clinical team at the Center for Back Pain works closely with Hackensack Meridian Health neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons and often supports patients with rehabilitation therapy before and after their surgical intervention.

“It’s common for us to collaborate on patient care,” said Dr. Parikh. “If a patient suffered a traumatic injury, for example, we could collaborate with one of our concussion specialists, our team of physical therapists, and our pain psychologist to provide well-rounded care that complements our treatment goals.”

The physicians at the Center for Back Pain recognize that back pain may be connected to other injuries. The center treats all aspects of musculoskeletal and spine-related injuries. For more information, call 732-897-2225, or visit

About Hackensack Meridian Health JFK University Medical Center

Serving residents of central New Jersey for more than 50 years, JFK University Medical Center offers a complete array of advanced services in its 498-bed facility located in Edison, N.J. With more than 1,000 affiliated physicians, this academic medical center offers a complete spectrum of advanced services including general and specialized surgery, cardiac care, maternity and pediatrics, oncology, imaging, breast center, sleep center, wound care, robotic surgery, emergency medicine, weight loss surgery, radiology, long-term care and assisted living. It is home to the world-renowned Neuroscience Institute that diagnoses and treats brain, spine and nervous system disorders. To learn more, visit

About Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute

Offering one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive rehabilitation services, Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute is a 94-bed facility located in Edison, NJ, serving residents of the tri-state area for more than 40 years. The JFK Johnson mission is simple: provide quality rehabilitation to assist adults and children living with disabilities to obtain optimal function and independence within an accepting community. The facility’s spectrum of care assures patients an integrated, personalized program that facilitates the recovery process while encouraging family participation.

JFK Johnson has developed programs in specialties such as brain injury, stroke rehabilitation, orthopedics musculoskeletal/sports injuries, cardiac rehabilitation and pediatrics. Subspecialty services include spasticity, Parkinson’s, pain management, audiology, prosthetics and orthotics, cognitive and vocational rehabilitation and fitness and wellness. Research capabilities continue to expand to ensure that patients receive the best in innovations that translate to improvements in clinical care.

Affiliated with JFK Johnson is Shore Rehabilitation Institute, a 40-bed inpatient and outpatient comprehensive rehabilitation hospital located in Brick, NJ, which also provides a variety of consulting, treatment, education and advocacy for local companies, professionals and schools. Another affiliate is Riverview Rehabilitation Institute, a 30-bed inpatient and outpatient comprehensive rehabilitation hospital located in Red Bank, NJ.



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