When any amount of pain is present in your body, it can interfere with your life to varying degrees. But when chronic or severe pain begins holding you back from participating in the things you used to love, it may be time to consider some new approaches to your pain. Many Island Hospital patients have chosen interventional pain management through our reputable Sports & Spine Clinic to lessen pain and improve the quality of their lives. From interventional injections to minimally-invasive surgery with our state-of-the-art spine robot, Island Hospital is proud to be offering innovative services.

We have many different options available to address the source of your pain, from natural pain management techniques, to more extensive and cutting-edge services and surgical procedures.


Interventional Injections and Ortho-Biologic Treatments
We always begin with the most minimally invasive technique when addressing your pain and offer a wide range of treatments, depending on your specific injury or ailment. Our services include:

  • Corticosteroid: This is an anti-inflammatory injection that is targeted with ultrasound guidance, intended to relieve inflammation and irritation. It may take a couple of days to feel the relief and a few weeks to feel the full effects of the injection.
  • Viscosupplementation: In this procedure, a gel-like injection of synthetic joint fluid is used to lubricate joints and decrease inflammation. This injection is usually applied to the knee but may be applied to other joints as well.
  • Prolotherapy: Prolotherapy is an injection that treats chronic musculoskeletal pain, utilizing the body’s healing process to repair tissues and create new fibrous tissues to strengthen the injured area. An injection substance such as a dextrose solution and anesthetic is injected, causing tissue irritation and slight inflammation. The body then begins to repair this area to restore strength to the weakened area. Prolotherapy typically requires 4-6 treatments to encourage a gradual tissue buildup.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): PRP is a good option for patients considering an alternative to surgery. PRP uses a patient’s blood components to stimulate the body’s healing process. Damaged tissues are injected directly with concentrated platelets. This stimulates growth factors and increases reparative cells to support the healing process.
  • Bone Marrow Concentrate (BMC): This is a procedure that is very similar to the PRP, but it involves bone marrow rather than blood components. With BMC, blood and tissue are taken from bone marrow in the hip area, and an injectable solution is created that will then be injected into the damaged tissues.
  • Epidural and nerve root blocks: Therapeutic procedures that can alleviate neck and back pain by injecting a local anesthetic and/or steroid into the area between the bones and the outermost membrane protecting the spinal cord. This procedure can also alleviate arm and leg pain and takes approximately 20 minutes.
  • Sacroiliac joint injections: These procedures place numbing medicine into small joints in the lower back. These are called the sacroiliac joints, which connect the pelvis to the spine. Then, local anesthetic and/or steroids are injected with x-ray guidance. This procedure takes approximately 20 minutes.
  • Facet joint injections: These are diagnostic procedures that help detect whether the source of your pain comes from the facet joints, which are small pairs of joints on the back of the spine. After this procedure, a pain diary will help determine which treatment options will be best for you.
  • Facet or medial branch rhizotomy: If a facet joint injection has provided short-term relief and it is determined that the spinal facet joint is indeed the cause of your pain, a rhizotomy can help provide relief for an extended period. This procedure is similar to the facet joint injections but with a specialized needle tip that passes a radio frequency heat through the needle and into the nerve.

For patients struggling with chronic or severe back pain, Island Hospital’s range of minimally invasive surgical procedures might be the best option.


Announcing the arrival of the Excelsius GPS®, A State-of-the-art Spinal Robot
Island Hospital is very excited to share that we are leading the way in adopting technological advances for many different surgical procedures to address chronic pain. We have recently acquired the Excelsius GPS®, a revolutionary technology platform that combines a rigid robotic arm with full navigation capabilities for spinal surgeries. This new state-of-the-art robotic technology can be utilized in procedures for patients who may need minimally invasive spine surgery.

Dr. Dawei Lu is the orthopedic spine surgeon who will be operating the Excelsius GPS®. He said, “I am thrilled to incorporate the Excelsius GPS® technology into my surgical procedures at Island Hospital. I anticipate many benefits for my patients, most notably how this device will add precision and efficiency. This is a revolutionary technological tool that will no doubt have a positive impact on many lives.”

This device will help support Dr. Lu’s procedures by maximizing surgical precision, as it allows him to monitor, plan, and navigate with real-time imaging. It also will optimize patient care by reducing possible surgical complications and future spinal revision surgery. In addition, the Excelsius GPS® reduces exposure to harmful radiation for both the patient and the operating team. This device will be an integral new tool for Island Hospital to use as we continue helping support patients in their choices for managing and alleviating back pain.

Our Providers

Dr. Robert Billow is a board-certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist who provides non-surgical care related to orthopedics, sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation to Island Hospital patients. With 17 years of experience in clinical practice, Dr. Billow is highly experienced in non-surgical orthopedic care, including interventional spinal procedures, ultrasound-guided diagnosis and treatment of joint and tendon injuries, as well as electrodiagnostic testing of nerve disorders. Having trained at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Billow strives to uphold the three Mayo Shields: Patient Care, Research and Education. To make an appointment with Dr. Billow to discuss interventional injections and ortho-biologic treatments, call the Sports & Spine Clinic at: (360) 299-4929.



Dr. Dawei Lu is a board-certified and fellowship-trained Skagit Northwest Orthopedics spine surgeon specializing in adult degenerative conditions of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. Dr. Lu’s surgical expertise lies in minimally invasive spine surgery, and he uses the latest techniques and procedures to ensure patients are treated individually to attain the best possible outcomes. Dr. Lu is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the North American Spine Society. In addition, Dr. Lu enjoys downhill skiing, mountain and road cycling, boating and fishing in his free time. . To contact Dr. Lu regarding spinal surgery, call (360) 424-7041.



Award-winning Orthopedics 

The Island Hospital Sports & Spine Clinic continues to bring recognition to Island Hospital through technological advances and consistent care and treatment options.

Island Hospital was recently recognized with five Healthgrades™ honors in 2021, including “America’s 100 Best Orthopedic Surgery™”, “Orthopedic Surgery Excellence Award™”, “Joint Replacement Excellence Award™”, “Spine Fusion Surgery Five-Star Recipient™”, and “Total Hip Replacement Five-Start Recipient™”. These awards, along with the Excelsius GPS® spine robot technology, reflect Island Hospital’s commitment to provide the very best service and care for our patients.

If you, or someone you know, has been struggling with pain, tingling or weakness in your back, or if you have had a significant back injury, we recommend getting more information about some of these innovative procedures and treatment options available to you through Island Hospital.

For more information about Island Hospital’s Sports & Spine Clinic, or to make an appointment to discuss your interventional pain management options, please call (360) 299-4929 or visit https://islandhealths.wpengine.com/sports-spine/

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Published on July 27, 2021