Think about your last family reunion or church social. You won’t have to remember many conversations until you recall hearing, “I’m down in my back.”
In the last four consecutive surveys conducted for Western Baptist, the most common health concern mentioned is joint and back pain.
Enter K. Brandon Strenge, M.D. (pictured below with his family).
He’s a hunter and a fisherman (second from left), so you can imagine the lure of western Kentucky after he completed his orthopedic spine surgery fellowship in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2009. Our region’s need for spine specialists sealed the deal.
“I have the expertise to treat almost any complex spinal condition,” he said. “Many of the procedures I perform, such as artificial disc replacement, were not available in western Kentucky prior to my arrival. Some patients from right here in western Kentucky even traveled to Germany to have these procedures.”
You probably know many people who have traveled – not to Germany, but certainly to Memphis or Nashville– for back surgery.
“The surrounding bigger cities have traditionally been where spine issues have been treated, mainly due to a shortage of high quality spine surgeons. The services I provide are exactly the same you would receive at Vanderbilt or the University of Kentucky.”
Considering the demand for relief among patients here, you might be surprised at Dr. Strenge’s most common advice to those with back pain:
“Avoid back surgery as long as you can. I have many patients who are very pleased after lumbar surgery for chronic back pain, but back surgery is not perfect. If you can live and function with the pain, don’t have surgery.”
Sometimes, it’s not pain that requires surgery. One of Dr. Strenge’s most memorable Paducah patients was a woman virtually paralyzed from compression of her spinal cord, caused by arthritic spurs in her neck. “She was able to stay in Paducah, with support from her family, which I think made her recovery more rapid. Prior to my arrival, she would have gone two to three hours away and would likely have been forced to recover with little family support.”
As noted, when Dr. Strenge isn’t working, you may find him in pursuit of crappie (the fish at right is a little bigger than those!), birds or ducks. But more regularly, he can be spotted at the gym. “As physicians we often counsel patients on the importance of diet and exercise, and I feel it’s important for me to lead by example with healthy living.”
Get to know Dr. Strenge better in these videos: