Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 30
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

TEAM WORK: “We offer non-surgical solutions to most orthopedic and spine conditions. Our comprehensive treatment plan is custom-tailored to the patient.” Shown left to right is the team at Performance Spine and Sports Medicine, Non-Surgical Orthopedic Institute: Douglas Neiverth, D.C., Paula Giardina, PT, DPT, Hector Lopez, M.D., and Joseph Jimenez, M.D. Not shown is Matthias Weiderholz, M.D.

Performance Spine and Sports Medicine Offers Non-Surgical Orthopedic Solutions

Oh, my aching back! How often have you or someone you know voiced this complaint?

Along with the common cold and headaches, back pain is one of the most universal human afflictions and the cause of myriad visits to the doctor.

Now, there is an institute dedicated to non-surgical treatment of orthopedic conditions. Performance Spine and Sports Medicine is located at 4056 Quakerbridge Road in Lawrenceville. Founded by Hector Lopez, M.D., M.S., Joseph Jimenez, M.D., MBA and Matthias Weiderholz, M.D., it offers a team-oriented interdisciplinary approach.

The Lawrenceville office opened in April. Two other facilities in Jackson and Pt. Pleasant opened two years ago. “Lawrenceville is the flagship,” notes Dr. Lopez. “This is the largest facility, with the latest innovations.”

Two of the three partners met as undergraduates at Rutgers, he adds. “Later, when the three of us were medical students at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson, we formed a consulting practice with athletes, the Physicians’ Pioneering Performance, utilizing nutritional, exercise, and fitness tools.

“The idea was to take what was unique to professional athletes and utilize it for general patients. Then, each of us had very similar residencies — Dr. Jimenez at JFK Rehabilitation Institute of New Jersey, UMDNJ, Dr. Weiderholz at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, and I at Northwestern University in Chicago.”

Collaborative Approach

“Here, at our facility, we try to empower the patient in managing, controlling, and treating pain, injury, or dysfunction with a collaborative approach. We provide coordinated care that involves not only our physicians, therapists, exercise specialists, and other health professionals, but also the patient’s personal physician.”

Seventy-five percent to 80 percent of conditions treated at the facility are neck and back problems, he adds. The rest includes shoulders, hips, and knees, also carpal tunnel problems, sprains, and sports injuries. “We treat many, many patients with shoulder pain,” says Dr. Lopez. “Chronic neck pain and shoulder pain can be connected. Rotator cuff and frozen shoulder are conditions we see. If someone comes in with severe pain, we will address the pain with medications or modalities, such as ice, heat, electrical treatments, etc.”

When a patient comes to the facility, there is a comprehensive examination, which can include X-ray, diagnostic ultra sound, and electrodiagnostics for muscle and nerve injuries. These are completely safe procedures, and treatments are covered by insurance.

If the patient decides to pursue treatment, “Then there is an assessment and diagnosis, and we formulate a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s problem,” explains Dr. Lopez. “It can include medication, chiropractic, and physical therapy. It can also include specialized injections, nutritional intervention, such as pharmaceutical-grade dietary supplements, and acupuncture for conditions like sciatica, back pain, neck pain, and joint pain.”

“Weekend Warriors”

Patients are all ages — from 9 to 90 — with conditions that are chronic, sub-acute (lasting three to six months), and acute (a new or recent development), points out Dr. Joseph Jimenez. Some of the patients are “Weekend Warriors”, those who over-do on the weekend: too many repetitions at the gym, too many sets of tennis, rounds of golf, or pick-up basketball games. “This is just too much at once, and typically is seen within the ages of 35 to 55,” he adds.

Older patients frequently suffer from not having enough exercise, he adds. “With people 60 and over, the problem can be that they haven’t exercised enough, and have been too sedentary. As people age, the muscles atrophy, get tighter and weaker, which can result in decreased function and mobility. Exercise, especially resistance and weight training, can address this. When we get patients on an exercise regimen, they can become healthier. Resistance training is very important for the muscles. Then, after restoring strength and improving the cardiovascular system, we work on balance, another area that can deteriorate with age.”

In addition, many older people have to deal with arthritis, and the doctors and staff at Performance Spine and Sports Medicine have treatments for that as well.

In the case of children and teens, the doctors often see patients who have focused on one sport, rather than many unstructured activities, such as neighborhood hide and seek, jump rope, bike riding, roller skating, baseball, etc., and again, the problem is over-doing.

“Many more kids are engaging in sports at younger and younger ages,” says Dr. Jimenez. “Participating in a variety of sports is really desirable for children.”

“We recognize the good intentions of the coaches, and we want to help guide and focus their good intentions to help prevent injuries,” adds Dr. Lopez. “We provide guidance for high school athletes, from young recreational athletes to the elite athletes. Parents must be very involved in their child’s treatment care, and they should make it fun. We work hard to educate the patient to be aware of the proper exercise and diet. What I especially enjoy is restoring the quality of life for people so they can live their lives to the fullest,” says Dr. Lopez.”

Team Approach

As an example of the institute’s team approach, every Friday, there is a meeting with all the physicians, chiropractor, rehabilitation therapist, and others, who discuss the various patients and their condition and progress.

The attractive, spacious facility offers a series of examination rooms, X-ray and fluoroscopy rooms, recovery room, and a chiropractic and physical therapy room. “We want everyone who comes here to be very comfortable, and we have tried to create a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere, a lot like a medical wellness spa,” says practice administrator Percy Naranjo.

“We have had a great response already, with patients from Princeton and Mercer County. We’ve had lots of word-of-mouth and many referrals from other patients. We knew that there was a clear demand for this type of integrated clinical model, but the response has been even greater than we expected so early on.

“I think what people especially like is that our physicians can integrate all our disciplines: physical medicine and rehabilation, chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, medical acupuncture, nutritional intervention, and fitness programs for the patients’ needs concurrently. As one patient put it: ‘a one stop shop!’”

Performance Spine and Sports Medicine is open Monday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 8 to 6. (609) 588-8600. Website:

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