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Michael Rimlawi Destined for a Career in Health Care

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DALLAS (February 20, 2018)…Approachable, empathetic and compassionate are words patients often use to describe 46-year- old Michael Rimlawi. Dr. Rimlawi is founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas. The spine institute was created to provide care for patients who suffer from back and neck pain as well as provide minimally invasive surgery when needed.

Rimlawi grew up in a family of health care professionals who he credits for his love of medicine and helping others. He is the oldest of four children born to an Italian and Lebanese father and American mother. His father is an obstetrician/gynecologist, and his mother a nurse. His parents met while they were in training in Ohio and soon married and started a family.

For Rimlawi, not going into health care was never an option. From a very early age, his mother recalls that he emphatically would state he wanted to fix people. He would shadow his father on rounds and observe surgeries. Rimlawi reflects, “It was a different time back then. He would put me by the anesthesiologist and have me watch surgery. Of course, one would never be allowed to do this today, but I must say this experience, and watching my parents with patients, shaped me to respect the medical profession and to want to be a physician so I could help people the way my parents did. My mother was so kind and understanding with everyone she came in contact with and I saw how she would make people around her feel safe and at ease. My father has an amazing work ethic and never complained about the hours he worked or the family time he missed because of work. He modeled focus and drive for me. He sacrificed so much to take care of our family.”

After graduating high school, Rimlawi headed to the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His mother joined him there as she pursued her undergraduate degree after being a stay-at-home mother for many years. Rimlawi laughs, “My friends would see her in the dorm and thought she was my girlfriend, and I’d have to point out that she was my mom. I don’t know how she had the energy to attend classes and study after taking care of all of us. She’s pretty amazing.”

From Wisconsin, Rimlawi headed to New York College of Medicine. It was here that he changed his focus from wanting to be an OB-GYN to a spine surgeon. It became personal because he suffered a bad back injury. He went to numerous physicians for treatment, but nothing really worked. No one took the time to explain what was causing him pain and why.

“One doctor would send me to another doctor, then to physical therapy, then to a chiropractor, and give me medications,” Rimlawi states. “I dealt with severe back pain for years, and no one explained my prognosis or treatment options to me. My back pain was so bad at one point that I had to take my medical school exams standing up. It wasn’t until later in medical school that I started understanding what was wrong with my back and why I was in so much pain. That’s when I became very interested in becoming a spine surgeon.”

Rimlawi adds that because he lived for so long in pain, he understands patients who come to him frustrated and at the end of their rope. He believes patients need to understand their treatment plans and options. “Spine pain can be scary, so it’s important that my patients know their diagnosis and understand the process we are going to follow to treat their pain. Knowledge helps patients to feel in control and know what to expect.”

When Rimlawi finished medical school, his residency training brought him to the North Texas Health Science Center. And as they say, the rest is history.

Five questions for Michael Rimlawi:

1.     Who is your role model?

“My role models have always been my parents. I witnessed firsthand their work ethic and how family was very important to them. My father was constantly working to provide for us. He missed a lot of games, family dinners and events because he had to work. My mother is an amazing cook, and she insisted we have meals together. We would all sit together, eat and share stories about our day. My mother was always there for us. I realized as I got older just how special she is. She taught us the value of treating others in the way we would want to be treated and the importance of doing the right thing. Those life lessons you never forget.”

2.     What’s one thing about Michael Rimlawi others would be surprised to know?

“The one thing that others would be surprised to know is that I invented two minimally invasive spine surgery instruments. There were a few products available that each did the things I needed in surgery but not one complete instrument that did it all – back then they had deficiencies. I wanted to invent something that had all the superior aspects of each product rolled into one. I sat down with an engineer and gave him all my ideas. We put it into one device that I was able to patent. I also patented a minimally invasive retractor as well. My retractor allows me to get into the spine with very little muscle destruction.”

3.     How do you maintain empathy?

“You know what? It’s the only way I know how to be. If someone is in pain, I recognize that feeling. I can’t sit back and do nothing. I have to help. I know what it is like to be in excruciating pain 24 hours a day. I can relate. It’s funny.

Certain things in my life I’ve gotten used to, like seeing blood, broken bones, pinched nerves, but as far as seeing people in pain, I’m never going to get used to that. If I can help minimize or erase their pain, I have to do it.”

4.     What has been a defining moment in your life?

“One of the biggest defining moments in my life was when my father developed a focal dystonia in his hand. It affected his ability to operate and therefore affected his ability to support the family. It really shook me to see this strong person become vulnerable. Even though I was in training, I started moonlighting to help my family because I knew how stressed my father was. I had to work to help finance my brothers’ and my sister’s education. I’m grateful that I was in a position to give back. My family means everything to me.”

5.     What is one of the most interesting surgical cases you’ve been involved with?

“There’s so many. One of the most interesting or best case I’ve worked on was with a gentleman who came to my office in a wheelchair. He could barely move his arms or legs, and he didn’t know why. We were able to discover the cause of his paralysis. Following surgery, I’d see progress where he slowly got out of his wheelchair, he slowly went to a walker, he slowly went to a cane, and then one day he wanted to surprise me. He told the staff to knock on the door three times before I came in. So they knocked three times, I opened the door, and without saying a word, he performed a short dance in the patient room. That was very touching. He went from a wheelchair unable to move his arms or legs to doing a little dance. There is very little else that feels as fulfilling as positively affecting someone’s life.”

The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute was founded in 2011 on the principle of patient-centered compassionate care where every treatment offered is customized to meet the patient’s specific needs and exceed their expectations. From staff and fellowship-trained, spine specialists to state-of-the-art technology and innovative techniques, the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas has brought together the best of the best, where patients can access their team of doctors and specialists all under the same roof. Providing no operative and advanced surgical care for all types of spinal disorders, this 45,851-square-

foot facility has helped more than 20,000 patients and holds a 98 percent success rate. The ambulatory surgery center (ASC) is AAAHC Certified, meaning it maintains the highest standards for ASCs and boasts a zero percent infection rate. The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute’s ASC houses four hospital-grade operating suites and 16 stress-free recovery bays staffed with experienced, specialized nurses. Additional facility features include an on-site imaging center, clinic and procedure rooms, rehabilitation, physician rooms and a hotel lobby-like reception/waiting areas in a quiet, clean environment specifically designed for comfort and care. The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute is noted for the development of the groundbreaking procedure MicroCision, the least invasive option to treat back and neck pain in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions with an incision as small as 3 millimeters. For more information on the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, go to www.MiSpineRelief.com or call 855-466-6741.

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The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute offers the unique benefits of a center solely dedicated to using the latest technologies to effectively treat a comprehensive range of spinal conditions. Whether it’s employing a cutting-edge pain mapping process to diagnose or performing minimally invasive back surgery with incisions so small it allows patients to return home the very same day, the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute works to give superior care and lasting results to every person they see. The spine specialists at the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute treat all aspects of spinal disease including degenerative and traumatic conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. More than just back doctors, the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute specialists are leaders in their field, pioneering minimally invasive surgical techniques, helping train spine surgeons all over the world and achieving successful outcomes for their patients. For more information on the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, call 855-297-7242 or go to https://www.mispinerelief.com. Follow on social media: Facebook – www.facebook.com/MiSurgicalInstitute; Twitter – https://twitter.com/MISInstitute; LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/company/the-minimally-invasive-spine-institute; and Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/MISInstitute.

Injection Based Therapy

Dr. Mike Shah: Surgery Isn’t Always the Answer; Injection-based Therapy May Be an Alternative

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By: Dr. Mike Shah, Interventional Pain Specialist & Pain Management Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

Although the Minimally Invasive Pain Relief team was founded by an expert surgeon, surgery is not always the best way to tackle chronic pain and inflammation. Minimally invasive spine surgery can provide a safe, effective solution for many people suffering from spine or back pain. Yet as effective as it can be, it’s not always the best solution for relieving symptoms. At Minimally Invasive Pain Relief, our team offers another treatment option called injection-based therapy that’s designed to deliver pain-relieving medication directly to the area that’s causing symptoms, without the need for surgery or anesthesia.

Injection-based Therapy: The Basics

Injection-based therapy can be used to relieve different types of pain, including pain caused by localized areas of tenderness called trigger points as well as discomfort that emanates from the joints in the spine called facet joints. In both instances, treatment begins with a technique called “pain mapping” to identify the specific causes of painful symptoms. Pain mapping ensures the right areas are treated using the best technique for optimal results.

Once the sources of pain are identified, medication can be delivered right to the site of symptoms, achieving far greater – and longer-lasting – effects than oral pain medicines. Most injections use corticosteroid medications to help relieve inflammation, combined with a pain medicine that “anesthetizes” the area and prevents pain signaling.

Before treatment, the injection site typically is numbed using a local anesthetic. Then the medications are delivered right to the site of injury and pain. In facet joint injections, depending on the location of the injections, diagnostic imaging may be used during treatment to ensure optimal placement of the needle. 

Benefits of Injection-based Therapy

One of the primary benefits of injection-based therapy is that it often can provide significant relief from pain, enabling patients to avoid spine surgery – or at least delay surgery. But another benefit is based on the way it’s delivered. In oral medications, pain medicines must pass through the digestive system before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually delivered to the intended site. During these processes, the medication can become diluted – less effective in relieving pain. Plus, the entire dose doesn’t reach the treatment site; some of it is delivered to other areas of the body through the bloodstream, sometimes triggering unpleasant side effects like gastric upset.

In injection-based therapy, the full dose of medication is delivered right to the treatment site so pain relief is faster and more effective. Most patients experience symptom relief soon after their treatment, with effects that last for weeks or even months. Also, injection-based therapy is performed as an outpatient procedure, and in most cases, patients are able to resume their normal routines very soon after their treatment. And finally, since it uses only local anesthesia to help the patient stay comfortable during treatment, injection-based therapy eliminates the risks associated with general anesthesia. 

Learn more about injection-based therapy

The team at Minimally Invasive Pain Relief is skilled in injection-based therapies for many types of pain, including chronic spine and back pain. To find out if you might be a good candidate for this state-of-the-art treatment approach, call the office at 877-504-9759 and schedule an appointment today.

The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute Pain Relief are pioneers of minimally invasive research, and are experts in advanced, noninvasive pain management techniques. If you are a chronic pain sufferer, contact the MIPainRelief team today at 877-504-9759 to schedule a consultation with one of our pain management specialists.


Dr. Mike ShahMike Shah

Interventional Pain Specialist, Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute

Dr. Shah is a Harvard-trained physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who is dedicated to providing pain relief to residents of the Dallas area since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Shah also received a master’s in Pharmacology from Tulane and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health. Following this, he completed his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Pain Management Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Opioid Addiction Study

Don’t Become a Pain Management Opioid Addiction Statistic

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Opioid addiction is a major public health concern in the U.S. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2016 alone, nearly 65,000 people died as a result of opioid drug overdoses – that’s more than the number of Americans who were killed during the entire Vietnam War. While other drugs also cause overdoses in the U.S., the CDC says about three-quarters of all drug overdose fatalities are caused by opioids, a type of painkiller drug that includes both illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl as well as prescription painkillers like OxyContin.

While you might assume most opioid-related deaths can be attributed to illegal drugs like heroin, in fact it’s the overabundance – and overprescribing – of prescription opioid painkillers that’s at the heart of the recent increase in fatal overdoses. A couple of decades ago, opioid painkillers were primarily prescribed for patients with significant and debilitating pain – most often men and women with advanced-stage cancer. But during the past 10-20 years, there’s been a dramatic increase in the use of these medications as both doctors and patients have become more tolerant – even accepting – of their use. Today, the CDC reports about one in five patients with a non-cancer pain diagnosis are prescribed painkillers, even though there’s little research substantiating that these medications are more effective than non-opioid medicines in these cases.

In fact, a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that non-opioid pain medications like Tylenol and Advil can be just as effective – or even more effective – in many types of pain management. That study looked at 411 emergency room patients with limb pain due to sprains, fractures and other injuries, and compared the effectiveness of different opioid pain relievers with a simple combination of Tylenol and Advil. Patients were asked to assess their pain levels before medication and after. At the end of the study period, the researchers found the combination of Tylenol and Advil was just as effective in treating and relieving pain as any of the three opioid alternatives that were also studied.

The “take-away” message is this: While opioids certainly have a place in the treatment of some types of severe pain, many patients can find the same level of relief without turning to potentially addictive drugs. If you’re suffering from chronic pain, you owe it to yourself – and your health – to consider alternative types of pain management that don’t involve opioid medications. Seeing a pain specialist allows you to explore your alternatives to find an ideal solution that’s custom-tailored specifically to your injury, your level of pain and your health.

The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute Pain Relief are pioneers of minimally invasive research and are experts in advanced, noninvasive pain management techniques. If you are a chronic pain sufferer, contact the MIPainRelief team today at 877-504-9759 to schedule a consultation with one of our pain management specialists.


Dr. Mike ShahMike Shah

Interventional Pain Specialist, Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute

Dr. Shah is a Harvard-trained physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who is dedicated to providing pain relief to residents of the Dallas area since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Shah also received a master’s in Pharmacology from Tulane and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health. Following this, he completed his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Pain Management Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Pain Management

Dr. Mike Shah: Top Approaches to Pain Management: Which Is Right for You?

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By: Dr. Mike Shah, Interventional Pain Specialist & Pain Management Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas 

Chronic pain affects millions of people in the U.S., interfering with mobility and taking a major toll on the quality of life for those who suffer from painful symptoms day after day. Spine or back pain, neck pain and headaches are among the most common types of chronic pain issues seen in doctors’ offices today, but there are other relatively common conditions that cause chronic pain as well, including:

Although the symptoms of pain may seem similar, the causes of pain – and how it manifests itself in the body – can actually vary dramatically. That means that for long-lasting relief, the approach to pain management also needs to vary based on the patient’s symptoms, overall health, lifestyle and other factors.

Nonsurgical Options

While some types of pain are best treated with surgery (especially minimally-invasive surgical options), other types of pain can be treated using nonsurgical approaches.

  • Physical therapy can be very effective in addressing some types of pain, and it can also be very useful following surgery or as part of a comprehensive approach to care that includes other approaches as well, including medication therapy. In physical therapy, special therapeutic exercises and stretching techniques are used to improve mobility while also reducing inflammation that’s commonly associated with pain.
  • Medication therapy uses both oral medications and injection-based therapy designed to deliver medicines right to the source of pain. The latter option can be very effective for many types of spine or back pain, as well as neck pain, limb pain and fibromyalgia, where localized areas of tenderness – “trigger points” – are common source of symptoms.
  • Chiropractic care is another option for treating some types of chronic pain by readjusting the spine to relieve disc problems and nerve impingements. Therapeutic massage is also commonly used in chiropractic care to promote circulation that’s necessary for optimal healing and to help the body get rid of toxins that may be byproducts of the inflammatory process. 

Care Focused on Your Needs

At Minimally Invasive Pain Relief, our team is dedicated to identifying the specific causes of pain using state-of-the-art pain mapping and other advanced techniques so your treatment can be tailored for your needs. Our custom approach to care means you can expect optimal results for long-lasting relief, helping you get back to the activities you love. If you suffer from chronic pain, visit https://mipainrelief.com/ or call Minimally Invasive Pain Relief at 877-504-9759 and schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you feel better.


Dr. Mike ShahMike Shah

Interventional Pain Specialist, Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute

Dr. Shah is a Harvard-trained physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who is dedicated to providing pain relief to residents of the Dallas area since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Shah also received a master’s in Pharmacology from Tulane and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health. Following this, he completed his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Pain Management Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Fibromyalgia Pain

Dr. Mike Shah Discusses How to Treat Fibromyalgia Pain

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By: Dr. Mike Shah, Interventional Pain Specialist & Pain Management Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that affects about 10 million people in the U.S., and although the condition is most common among women, anyone of any age can be affected. One of the problems with fibromyalgia is that it can be very difficult to diagnose – and as a result, many people may be living with fibromyalgia who have not yet been properly diagnosed with the condition.

What causes fibromyalgia?

The exact cause of fibromyalgia isn’t completely understood, which only adds to the difficulties in obtaining an accurate and timely diagnosis. Some researchers think painful symptoms are triggered by an injury or illness that causes the body’s pain signaling system to perpetually “misfire,” which means the body thinks it is experiencing pain even after the initial injury has healed or subsided. Others think the condition develops when the body’s nervous system becomes “confused” over how to recognize and react to stimuli, which means painful symptoms can be triggered even by a gentle touch or from normal, everyday activities. And still other researchers think the condition may be related to genetics or stress.

Fibromyalgia can also “look” different in different people. While many people with fibromyalgia have tender spots or trigger points that feel painful to the touch, other fibromyalgia sufferers may have more diffuse symptoms including joint pain that can be very similar to arthritis, but without the joint damage that’s caused by that condition. And some people with fibromyalgia have other symptoms that seem to be completely separate from their pain, including:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Bowel problems
  • Persistent headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety or depression

Fibromyalgia Treatment

Most people who suffer from fibromyalgia benefit from a comprehensive approach to pain management that includes lifestyle changes, therapeutic exercises, medication and stress management activities. However, the Minimally Invasive Pain Relief Team has effective fibromyalgia treatment plans that improve function and lessen pain.

Patients with painful trigger points often find considerable relief through injections of medications designed to relieve pain as well as resolve associated inflammation, and some patients find therapeutic massage to be helpful in stimulating circulation and “loosening” knotted muscle fibers. Since fibromyalgia is a chronic condition and symptoms often change over time, many patients may need ongoing treatment to keep pain and related issues under control.

Find out more.

As with most types of chronic pain, the key to fast, meaningful relief is to begin treatment as soon as possible – and that starts with an office visit. If you’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or if you suffer from debilitating chronic pain symptoms, visit https://mipainrelief.com or call Minimally Invasive Pain Relief at 877-504-9759 today and request a personal consultation and evaluation to learn about therapeutic pain management interventions that can help you feel better and get back to the life you love.

At Minimally Invasive Pain Relief, our team is dedicated to identifying the specific causes of pain using state-of-the-art pain mapping and other advanced techniques so your treatment can be tailored for your needs. Our custom approach to care means you can expect optimal results for long-lasting relief, helping you get back to the activities you love. If you suffer from chronic pain, visit https://mipainrelief.com/ or call Minimally Invasive Pain Relief at 877-504-9759 and schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you feel better.


Dr. Mike ShahMike Shah

Interventional Pain Specialist, Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute

Dr. Shah is a Harvard-trained physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who is dedicated to providing pain relief to residents of the Dallas area since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Shah also received a master’s in Pharmacology from Tulane and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health. Following this, he completed his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Pain Management Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Dr. Michael Rimlawi Discusses: Why Choose the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute?

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Minimally Invasive Spine Institute BuildingBy: Dr. Michael Rimlawi, Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained spine surgeon and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints among both men and women in the U.S. In fact, as many as two-thirds of adults in the U.S. experience back pain – but nearly 4 out of 10 of those people won’t seek medical treatment for their pain, primarily because they aren’t aware of the non surgical options that are available to them or they mistakenly believe that treatment involves a lot of pain or a long period of recovery.

In the past, many treatment options – specifically surgical options – used to involve long periods of hospitalization and recovery, as well as large incisions and scars. But the fact is, today’s minimally-invasive surgical techniques have changed that, and most people can experience significant relief from their symptoms without long periods of recovery and without significant post-op discomfort.

Feel Better Faster

Minimally-invasive spine surgery uses very small incisions – often just an inch in length – while utilizing special instruments to perform a wide array of spine-related procedures, helping patients get the relief they need without the tissue damage, discomfort, blood loss and potential complications associated with traditional open spine surgery. Most minimally-invasive surgeries can be performed on an outpatient basis, which means patients can return home the same day they have their procedure. And often, those patients are able to return to their jobs within a few days or weeks– not the months required following traditional spine surgery.

Although minimally-invasive surgery has become much more common during the past decade or so, not every medical facility offers these state-of-the-art tools. The key to excellent results is to select a surgeon and facility that offer both advanced treatment options and a skilled, dedicated staff with experience in minimally invasive spine surgery.

Team Approach

I founded the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute to provide patients a full spectrum of treatment options for back and neck pain and related symptoms, from bulging discs and nerve impingement to scoliosis, spinal stenosis and spondylosis. We focus exclusively on the spine and its disorders and diseases so our team of spine surgeons, pain management physicians, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, imaging specialists and patient care coordinators are highly skilled and have decades of experience with treating the spine. Plus, having an on-site team makes it easier for each member of our staff to consult and communicate, which means you can expect coordinated care aimed at helping you achieve optimal results at every step of your treatment journey.

We have helped over 30,000 patients with treatment plans customized to meet each of their needs. If you suffer from chronic back or neck pain, don’t put off getting medical attention. Call the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at 855-466-6741 and schedule an evaluation today.


Dr. Michael RimlawiMichael Rimlawi

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon, Board Certified, Fellowship-Trained

Spine Surgeon Dr. Michael Rimlawi is director and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute. Dr. Rimlawi is a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon who completed unique training in both orthopedic-spine and neurosurgery-spine at the renowned University of California San Diego. Dr. Rimlawi treats all aspects of spinal disease including degenerative and traumatic conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. More than just a back doctor, he is a leader in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery and a pioneer in endoscopic laser spine surgery.

Pain Specialist

Dr. Mike Shah: What Does a Pain Specialist Do?

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By: Dr. Mike Shah, Interventional Pain Specialist, Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

Approximately 100 million Americans suffer from some sort of chronic pain, according to data from the American Academy of Pain Medicine. That’s more than the number of people who suffer from cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined. Neck or back pain along with headaches are among the most common types of chronic pain, affecting millions of people and taking a significant toll on their quality of life.

Fortunately, a physician’s understanding of pain – what causes it and how it can be effectively treated – has grown dramatically during the past 20-30 years, and today there are more options than ever for safe, effective pain management. The first step in relieving painful symptoms is scheduling an evaluation with a pain specialist, a doctor who’s trained specifically in the diagnosis and ongoing treatment of pain.

What does a pain specialist do?

Pain specialists have in-depth, advanced knowledge of the physiology of pain – that is, the causes, the effects and the symptoms of pain, as well as the often-complex mechanisms that cause pain to persist. This training and knowledge allows pain specialists to become skilled in evaluating pain, diagnosing the underlying causes and treating the root cause. Interventional pain specialists are also skilled in treating pain using state-of-the-art out patient procedures. From neck or back pain to related issues such as headaches and shoulder or arm pain, a pain management doctor begins treatment with a thorough evaluation of the patient’s condition and symptoms as well as overall health. Utilizing this information, your pain management specialist can develop a comprehensive treatment plan that’s designed specifically for the individual patient. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution when it comes to treating pain. The key to a successful outcome lies in ensuring each plan of care is tailored specifically for the patient’s unique needs as well as developing a clear path for communication between the patient and the physician regarding pain relief and progress. 

Can a pain management doctor help me feel better?

While most people think of chronic pain in terms of the physical symptoms it causes, the fact is many people with chronic pain issues also suffer from anxiety, depression, sleep problems and other physical and emotional side effects. The sooner pain is appropriately managed, the sooner these problems can be resolved as well. If you suffer from chronic pain, there’s a good chance a pain management specialist can help you feel better too. To learn more about pain medicine and whether it’s a good choice for your needs, call the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at 877-504-9759 and schedule your personal consultation and evaluation appointment today.

At the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, our team is dedicated to identifying the specific causes of pain using state-of-the-art pain mapping and other advanced techniques so your treatment can be tailored you. Our custom approach to care means you can expect optimal results for long-lasting relief, helping you get back to the activities you love. If you suffer from chronic pain, visit https://mipainrelief.com/ or call the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at 877-504-9759 and schedule a consultation to learn how we can help you feel better.


Mike Shah

Interventional Pain Specialist, Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute

Dr. Shah is a Harvard-trained physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who is dedicated to providing pain relief to residents of the Dallas area since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Shah also received a master’s in Pharmacology from Tulane and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health. Following this, he completed his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Pain Management Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Pain Mapping

Dr. Michael Rimlawi Discusses: Pain Mapping Offers Optimal Pain Management

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By: Dr. Michael Rimlawi, Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained spine surgeon and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

Some types of pain are easy to diagnose: You stub your toe or you get a paper cut on your fingertip, and you know exactly what’s causing the pain and how to treat it. But sometimes the source of pain is less obvious, especially if an injury causes what’s known as referred pain – pain that’s felt in an area away from the injury site. Referred pain typically is associated with nerve impingements like slipped or herniated discs in the neck or back. These injuries can press on nerves as they exit the spine, causing pain anywhere along the nerve pathway and making it more difficult to determine the exact source of pain. For instance, chronic arm pain may actually emanate from an injury in the neck; leg pain might be caused by a disc herniation or nerve impingement in the lower back.

Other times, referred pain symptoms can be associated with trigger points, local areas of tenderness that often form in the upper back, neck or shoulders. These areas of “knotted” muscle fibers can cause chronic headaches along with persistent pain in the arms, back or neck.

Pain Mapping: The Key to Accurate Diagnosis

Obviously, treating pain effectively depends on knowing the source of the pain. But with referred pain, identifying the source can be problematic, even with the use of diagnostic imaging like X-rays or CT scans. The good news: Pain mapping can be extremely effective in pinpointing discrete causes of pain that otherwise may be missed during a traditional diagnosis.

The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute’s pain mapping uses a series of special techniques to “zero in” on the sources of pain so treatment can be optimized for the patient’s specific needs. During the mapping process, the doctor injects pain-relieving medications at different locations depending on the patient’s symptoms and their medical history. Based on the effects of each injection – specifically, whether or not the injection provides a temporary relief of pain – the doctor will be able to identify the original source of painful symptoms so a treatment plan can be “mapped out.” Before the procedure, the injection sites are numbed with local anesthetics and light sedation is administered to ensure the patient remains relaxed and comfortable.

Pain Mapping for Optimal Pain Management

Because it’s a highly specialized technique, pain mapping should only be performed by a trained pain specialist. At the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, we rely on the most advanced pain mapping techniques using state-of-the-art tools for accurate diagnoses of most types of chronic pain, including pain emanating from the spinal nerves. If you have chronic pain, pain mapping can provide critical insight into the underlying cause so you can enjoy more targeted therapy and faster, more meaningful relief of your symptoms.

To learn more about pain mapping or to have your chronic pain issues evaluated, visit https://www.mispinerelief.com/ or call the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at 855-466-6741 and schedule a consultation today.


Michael Rimlawi

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon, Board Certified, Fellowship-Trained

Spine Surgeon Dr. Michael Rimlawi is director and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute’s team. Dr. Rimlawi is a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon who completed unique training in both orthopedic-spine and neurosurgery-spine at the renowned University of California San Diego. Dr. Michael Rimlawi treats all aspects of spinal disease including degenerative and traumatic conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. More than just a back doctor, he is a leader in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery and a pioneer in endoscopic laser spine surgery.

Best Sleeping Positions for People with Back Pain

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By: Dr. Michael Rimlawi, Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained spine surgeon and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

Sleep is meant to be peaceful and rejuvenating, but what happens when back pain prevents this? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “Adults should sleep seven or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Getting less than seven hours of nightly sleep increases your risk of several adverse health outcomes.”

The addition of an extra pillow paired with various doctor-recommended sleep positions can help alleviate lower back pain. To help those suffering from back pain, we have mapped out a few tips to obtain a restful night’s sleep.

  1. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees

    Side sleepers

    Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

    This position isn’t the key to relief, but the added pillow is. By tucking a pillow between your legs, the spine, hips and pelvis are in better alignment.

  1. Sleep on your stomach with a pillow under your lower stomach

    Adding a pillow under the stomach can take pressure off the space between your discs.

  1. Invest in a good memory foam pillow

    Many people research and research their bed but pay little attention to their pillow. Memory foam pillows molds itself around the curve of your head keeping every small bone carefully aligned.

  1. Sleep flat on your back with a pillow under your knees

    According to Health.com, this position takes stress off your pressure points and allows for better alignment of your spine and internal organs.

  1. When traveling, use a seat sleeper pillow

    Sleeping with a neck pillow

    Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

    Travel pillows come in all shapes and sizes. Supporting your head and neck while seat sleeping is important. Check out Travel +Leisure’s 14 Best Travel Pillows for Every Type of Seat Sleeper to help find a pillow that will  keep the head from being pushed forward when you are sitting.

While sleep positions alone won’t solve back pain, making small adjustments to your sleeping style can make a big difference.

Healthy Sleep Duration

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine


Dr. Michael RimlawiMichael Rimlawi

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon, Board Certified, Fellowship-Trained

Spine Surgeon Dr. Michael Rimlawi is director and founder of the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute’s team. Dr. Rimlawi is a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon who completed unique training in both orthopedic-spine and neurosurgery-spine at the renowned University of California San Diego. Dr. Michael Rimlawi treats all aspects of spinal disease including degenerative and traumatic conditions of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. More than just a back doctor, he is a leader in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery and a pioneer in endoscopic laser spine surgery.

Yoga Stretching

Best Yoga Stretches for Lower Back Pain

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By: Dr. Mike Shah. Interventional Pain Specialist & Pain Management Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas

One of yoga’s most attractive qualities is that it’s good for the mind, body and soul. This holds true for people with back pain. There are a variety of yoga poses that you can do that are very beneficial when it comes to relieving back pain. Next time your back is acting up, try these yoga poses.

DOWNWARD DOG

Downward dog yoga pose

Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

This stretch reaches the entire body and stretches the large muscles that form the lower back.

CHILD’S POSE

Childrens Yoga

Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

Child’s pose provides the back with a deep stretch.

TRIANGLE POSE

Triangle Pose

Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

Great for strengthening the back, triangle pose helps lengthen muscles and stretch muscle fibers.

CAT AND COW POSE

Cat Pose

Photo Credit: Can Stock Photo

Not only does this pose do wonders for an aching back, it also loosens back muscles and can be used as a warmup in any workout.

When first starting yoga, be prepared for your body to be a little sore. For a person with weight issues, a lack of exercise can greatly increase the risk of back pain. Inactivity combined with extra weight puts pressure and strain on your joints and spine, putting you at a greater risk for sciatica, herniated disks and pinched nerves.

Many people suffering from chronic back pain, for whatever reason, are under the impression they will be less likely to hurt their back if they limit the amount of activity or exercise they participate in. However, regular activity helps with lower and upper back pain relief as well as other types of chronic pain. Physical activity activates the exchange of nutrients between spinal disks, keeping the spine healthy.

Because yoga uses a variety of postures and techniques, it is important that you stretch properly before and after each yoga program. Stretches where your body doesn’t leave the floor and stretch the lower back are helpful. However, it’s important to communicate your pain with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. It is also important that you learn how to properly perform yoga’s postures and techniques to avoid potential injury.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you see your doctor before engaging in vigorous exercise if two or more of the following apply:

  • You’re older than 35 years.
  • You have a family history of heart disease before age 60.
  • You smoke or you quit smoking in the past six months.
  • You don’t normally exercise for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week.
  • You’re significantly overweight.
  • You have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

You have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or you have impaired glucose tolerance (also called prediabetes).


Dr. Mike ShawMike Shah

Interventional Pain Specialist & Pain Management Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute

Dr. Shah is a Harvard-trained physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who has been dedicated to the eradication of pain in the Dallas area since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Shah also received a master’s in Pharmacology from Tulane and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health. Following this, he completed his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Pain Management Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.