RANCHO SANTA FE — Ranch resident Kamshad Raiszadeh’s career in medicine seems natural, given his upbringing. With a chemistry professor father and pathologist mother, it wasn’t unusual for him and his two younger brothers to spend hours looking through slides at his parent’s lab.
Many family friends were medical professionals, which impressed upon the three boys how rewarding it could be to help diagnose and treat people.
His parents, who came to the United States to study before returning to Iran, chose to relocate to America for good at the time of the Iranian Revolution.
“My brothers and I have a lot to thank them for,” Raiszadeh said. “There was lots of sacrifice. It wasn’t easy leaving everything you know and saying, ‘This is not safe for my kids.’ I don’t know if I could be that brave.”
Inspired by their parents’ dedication, all three became orthopedic surgeons. Raiszadeh, who graduated U.C. Berkeley with highest honors in biochemistry, minored in art.
“I liked building things,” he said, which translated to his interest in the spine and the “delicate work you need to do on the spine, the combination of the structure and working around the nerves.”
After earning his medical degree at U.C. San Francisco, he completed his orthopedic residency at U.C. Davis and fellowship training in adult and pediatric spine surgery at the Hospital for Joint Disease in New York.
Today, he is a married father of four who lives in Rancho Santa Fe.
He and his brother Ramin Raiszadeh both specialize in the spine. In addition to being surgeons, they run three Spine Zone clinics in San Diego County (see related article on Spine Zone.) The belief that “the body can heal most spinal conditions without injections or surgery” is the philosophy behind the program.
“My consistent message is, I’d rather not operate on you if your body can heal the condition,” said Raiszadeh. “My biggest successes are often the ones where I get people to improve without surgery, returning back to their regular activities and feeling great. To me that’s a congruous message between my spine surgical practice and Spine Zone.”
Raiszadeh’s philosophy of spinal care was largely influenced by orthopedic surgeon Vert Mooney.
“He was a guru of non-operative treatment,” Raiszadeh said. “When I came to town, I had a standard spinal surgery practice, but I saw what he was doing and saw the good results his patients were getting.” Raiszadeh said that since he finished his specialty training in ’96, there’s been “a huge boom in spinal surgery” for back and neck pain that has a difficult-to-discern cause.
“Oftentimes surgeons are faced with having nothing else to offer but surgery,” he said, adding, “and that’s where Spine Zone comes in. It helps prevent surgery, even in patients who’ve tried multiple other treatments.”
Certainly there are cases where spinal surgery is the best option.
For Encinitas resident and Ironman competitor Cathie Summerford, spinal surgery by Raiszadeh changed her life.
“I’m pretty tough,” she said. “In a million years I never thought I’d have back surgery.” But she was in excruciating pain and after a year of trying alternative methods, went to see Raiszadeh.
“I had three problems,” she said, “a slipped disc, a bulging disc that was causing foot drop, and stenosis … It was amazing I was even walking.” But now, she said, she’s “in better shape and more balanced in all arenas than before surgery. Not only is Dr. Kamshad Raiszadeh the best surgeon you could find, he is just a plain great guy who goes above and beyond in the personal care and issues of each patient.”
Raiszadeh said his goal is to empower people to make the best choice for their health care.
“Education is very important,” he said, “to know what your options are and not to panic when you have an episode of back pain.”
Becoming educated on your spine care options — and your surgeon — is crucial.
San Diego attorney Kathryn Meadows, who specializes in malpractice and injury cases, advises people to get a recommendation from someone who has experience with a particular doctor.
It’s especially helpful to get a recommendation from another doctor, perhaps your own general practitioner. She also suggested checking the California Medical Board website to see if there has been any disciplinary action against a doctor. Though, she added, the information there is not always complete.
“Oftentimes there are multiple complaints against a doctor before there is public disciplinary action taken.” And if there is a private reprimand, the public will not know, she said.
In addition, it’s important to learn whether your physician is board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), she said, explaining that spine surgeons are generally certified in either orthopedic surgery or neurosurgery.
Also, if a surgeon has had his or her surgical privileges at a hospital or surgery center revoked or suspended, this is a huge red flag. Patients should always ask this question, as such a suspension or revocation is generally due to a significant number of unwarranted surgical complications and/or mistakes, Meadows said.
Raiszadeh is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, an ABMS member board.
He has surgical privileges at hospitals and surgery centers throughout the county, and he and his brother, Ramin, serve as co-medical directors of the Advanced Spine Institute & Minimally Invasive Spine center at Alvarado Hospital and are starting a spine center of excellence at the New Palomar Hospital.