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Smart Care&Choice print

Smart Care, Smart Choice : Spondylarthritis


It is said that human beings obtained spinal diseases as the price they paid for the ability of using both hands freely by walking upright. Likewise, spinal diseases could be destiny for human beings. In the past, it was rare to suffer a spinal disease before a person gets old because of his or her trained muscles surrounding the spine while hunting, collecting and producing for living. However, spinal diseases have become a common disorder with the invention of motor vehicle and computer as people travel even short distances sitting in a car and spend most of their time seated in front of the computer. Sitting for a long time puts stress on the spine. Recently, as smartphones become popular, people look at their smartphones even while walking, putting pressure on their neck as well as their back. In addition to computer and motor vehicles, many people suffer from spinal diseases due to the aftereffects of traffic accidents. Moreover, poor posture including crossing legs for a long time can cause spinal diseases.


Types of spinal diseases

Your spine is made up of 51 bones, which are connected through joints. If there is a problem in one of those bones, you will feel pain in your spine. The most common spinal disease called spinal disc herniation is a medical condition where discs which normally act as shock absorbers between the bones in your spinal column, press on nerves and cause discomfort. The second most common disease, scoliosis, is a condition in which the spine bends to the side abnormally due to poor posture. Beside these diseases, you can feel pain in your spine due to several causes such as muscle pain, degenerative arthritis and spinal stenosis or spondylolysis. Once you feel pain, you need to visit a doctor without delay. If you put off the back pain as muscle pain and take pain relievers, it is already too late when you visit a doctor once the pain gets worse.

Korea’s various types of treatments with fewer side effects than surgery

Spinal diseases are a mixed disease. Treatment for spinal diseases requires a diagnosis from many departments such as orthopedics, internal medicine, neurology, pain medicine, rehabilitation and radiology. Considering this, it is important to choose a hospital that offers comprehensive care from diagnosis to treatment. There have been many spinal disease patients in Korea due to its traditional sedentary lifestyle, leading to the development of a spine hospital.
Spine surgery is a major operation that cuts the skin and muscle and shaves bones. As a result, it requires a long period for recovery and some side effects can occur. Unlike other surgical operations, a successful spine surgery does not mean the patient is 100% cured and requires continuous consultations with doctors and post-op management. Spine hospitals in Korea recommend procedures that promise a fast recovery and no side effects. One of such procedures is the Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS) which preserves normal tissue as much as possible while treating the affected parts with minimum incisions. As a result, patients can expect a fast recovery with no side effects. Another procedure called neuroplasty alleviates pain by injecting drugs directly into the spine and hospitalization is not necessary.

What brought a British doctor to Korea several times?

Dr. Robert A Wells, a specialist in emergency and family medicine in the U.K. received an examination in a neurosurgery ward in 2004 due to neck and arm pain. He was given a shocking diagnosis that his condition was so bad that surgery was required, which could lead to paralysis from his neck down. He refused to get the surgery at first. However, as the pain got worse, he sought various methods and was recommended to undergo the MISS procedure at Wooridul Spine Hospital in Korea. At first, he hesitated to get treated there because he knew little about Korea. He had doubts whether a Korean hospital can treat him when he could not be treated in the U.K, a country with advanced medical technology. Then, an article about microscopic laser discectomy developed by Dr. Sang-ho Lee’s team at Wooridul Spine Hospital compelled him to come to Korea. According to the article, the procedure was very successful in treating the spinal disease without causing waist-down paralysis. In August 2004, Dr. Wells visited Korea to get an examination. The condition in his disc and spine was so severe that the MISS was not appropriate for him. So, he received another procedure. Fortunately, the surgery was successful and the pain in his arms subsided.
After coming back to the U.K., his recovered fast. However, he felt pain in his thoracic vertebrae again in 2007. This time, he visited Korea right away and was diagnosed with disc protrusion. He received a discoplasty with the MISS procedure using an endoscope and laser. After the procedure, his pain subsided and he regained mobility in his arms.
Dr. Wells was a severely-ill patient who could have been paralyzed from his neck down. He admitted that “I was deeply impressed by Korea’s medical technology. I am a doctor in the U.K., a place where we have advanced medical technology. So, I have never imagined that I would get treated in Korea. I learned that there is a lot I don’t know.” He also claimed he was moved by Korean culture and hospitality during his stay in the hospital for surgery. He gave a big smile, saying that he would like to visit Korea one day for pleasure instead of treatment.

Wooridul Spine Hospital

Wooridul Spine Hospital is a specialized spine hospital that has been treating patients with spinal diseases for over 30 years. The hospital performs 20,000 surgeries and 60,000 minimally invasive treatments a year. The hospital has branches in Seoul, Busan and other 4 regions in Korea and opened hospitals overseas in Shanghai, Jakarta, Dubai and Istanbul. The Wooridul International Patient Center (WIPC) offers a VIP lounge and a 1:1 escort service for international patients.
Tel : +82-2-513-8385

Russian worker and Mongolian lieutenant major who had their hip joints treated in Korea

Kossenko Dmitri (aged 44, male) is a veteran and works in the wood working industry in Irkutsk, Central Siberia. He fell about 5 meters down at a pool construction site on the first day of 2011. As a result, he suffered a fracture of his right hip joint and underwent surgery at a hospital in Irkutsk on the next day. However, he could not completely recover from the injury. So, he underwent another surgery next May, but his hip joint clicked as he moved and his two legs were of differing lengths.
While he was so concerned about his condition, he watched a TV program on hip joint surgery at Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital and visited Korea. He was closely examined at the hospital and underwent surgery. After the surgery the clicking sound of his joint disappeared and the lengths of his legs returned to normal. Mr. Dmitri said that “I went to hospitals here and there in Russia, but they were not as kind as the nurses at Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital. I am deeply touched by Korea’s excellent medical technology and service.”

In the next bed over from Mr. Dmitri, Oyun Namjil (aged 47, male), a surgeon in a Mongolian armed forces hospital was hospitalized. He was suffering from avascular necrosis that could take his life due to an interruption of the blood supply to his hip joints. He underwent surgery at a trauma center in Mongolia in 2010, but he still did not get better.
Mr. Namjil who was in active service as a lieutenant major was informed of Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital by Colonel Menjila who underwent surgery at the hospital. Mr. Namjil visited Korea without hesitation. He said that “I spent two miserable years as my feet did not move outward. But, my hip joints were cured after getting surgery at Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital. I am satisfied with the results.”

Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital Joint Center

Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital Joint Center treated 81 patients from 16 countries in 2011 alone. It is famous for its excellent techniques in conducting surgery on patients whose previous surgery in their home country failed. The Joint Center consists of a knee joint clinic, a hip joint clinic and spine and general orthopedics. Many medical practitioners visited the Center from abroad to learn about its world-class medical technology.
Tel : +82-61-379-8030

Walking the Jeju Olle trails for healthy spine!

To have a healthy spine, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you study or work on the computer for a long time, you should take a 10-minute break each hour and stretch. Further,, when you sleep, it is best if you place a pillow under your calves or between them.
Walking is the best exercise for your spine. Walking on dirt roads or lawns is better than on asphalt or concrete and sneakers or shoes with cushions are recommended. The Jeju Olle walking paths is the representative trail in Korea where you can discover the beauty of Jeju Island, designated UNESCO's World Natural Heritage. Though Olle trails are comparable to the Camino de Santiago, you will see a neat and ever-changing landscape. As there are over 400 guest houses and traditional markets near the Olle trails, visitors do not need to worry about accommodations or food.

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