Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg welcomed everyone
to the regular Sunday meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club on December 26
at Amari Resort’s Tavern by the Sea. After the usual opening announcements,
he introduced Dr. Sompong Ratanarojpusit, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon at
Bangkok Hospital Pattaya (BHP), whose topic would be about spine problems in
aging patients. Dr. Sompong received his medical degree from Chiang Mai
University in 1986 and his specialty in orthopedic surgery from
Pramongkutklao Army Hospital in 1994. He was a Visiting Spine Fellow at the
Inje University Medical School in Korea in 2000 and at the University of
Virginia in 2001.
Sompong Ratanarojpusit, M.D., Orthopedic Surgeon at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya
(BHP), talks about spine problems in aging patients.
Dr. Sompong started by advising that BHP has recently
opened their Spinal Clinic, which is staffed and equipped to handle all
kinds of back problems and surgeries. He mentioned that the most common
symptom of spinal problems is back pain, but back pain in and of itself does
not mean you have spinal problems. He listed several types of spinal
problems that can cause severe back pain, but noted they usually have other
symptoms. These problems include herniated discs (ruptured discs),
spondylosis (degenerative changes), spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal
canal over several segments causing pressure on the nerves), slipped disc
(disc bulges trapping a nerve), and osteoporosis vertebrae fracture (weak
bones that can be easily fractured).
The other symptoms he mentioned are neck pain and
numbness, pain radiating down the arms, or bowel or bladder dysfunction. Dr.
Sompong, using several diagrams of the spine, explained how these various
problems affect the spinal column. He said that the type and severity of the
problem will determine the method of treatment and whether surgery may be
required. He mentioned that osteoporosis is a bone disease that comes with
aging and can lead to fractures of the vertebrae. Older people might find it
advantageous to include in their physical checkups a diagnostic test that
can identify osteoporosis.
In the past, Dr. Sompong said that treating vertebrae
compression fractures usually meant months of taking medication while living
with back pain. However, there are now two procedures that are minimally
invasive and can relieve the pain almost immediately. One is vertebroplasty
and the other is kyphohplasty. The first involves using image guidance to
inject a special cement mixture through a hollow needle into the fractured
bone. The other is the same except a balloon is inserted first through the
needle into the fractured bone to create a cavity or space to control where
the cement goes. These can be done on an outpatient basis.
Dr. Sompong said that surgery usually is required in
cases of very severe pain or bowel/bladder dysfunction. One form of surgery
is the laminectomy to remove the lamina, two small bones that make up a
vertebra, or bone spurs. The procedure can take pressure off your spinal
nerves or spinal column. Other surgical procedures can be diskectomy (disk
removal), foraminotomy (widens the opening where nerve roots leave the
spinal column), and spinal fusion (join together two vertebrae). He pointed
out that some microscopic surgeries can be done at the BHP.
There were several questions from the audience, many
asking about back pain that they had experienced. Dr. Sompong responded to
most that their symptoms were not spinal problems; rather they were muscle
strain that tend to go away on their own.
Richard Silverberg then updated everyone on upcoming
events and called on “Hawaii” Bob Sutterfield to conduct the always
informative and sometimes humorous Open Forum, where questions about living
in Thailand and Pattaya in particular are asked and answered.
Jolly Ol’ St. Nick hands out gifts to the excited
Ban Jing Jai residents.
Seventy-five children from the Ban Jing Jai orphanage enjoyed
a Christmas with gifts from Santa Claus at the Haven Hotel, which donated
200,000 baht to the Pattaya shelter.
Money was raised from guests at the Soi 13 hotel, and golfers
taking part in the annual Haven Invitational golf tournament. Most funds were
raised through selling tickets for the exciting 50-50 draw.
Ban Jing Jai children were then taken shopping, with each
given a budget within which they could purchase anything they desired. Most came
within one baht of their allotted budget.
These toys and necessities were then wrapped in Christmas
paper and presented to the children during a Boxing Day party at the Haven.
Other funds raised were used for food and drinks for the
children during the party, and the support the Ban Jing Jai Foundation.
Jolly Ol’ St. Nick delighted the kids with handouts before they took a dip in
the swimming pool and scooped up ice cream.