With the number of patients seeking professional care for back and neck pain and other spinal disorders on the rise, the Total Spine Health Program at Santa Rosa Orthopaedics (SRO) employs a carefully crafted treatment protocol from orthopaedic spine surgeons and specialty trained physical therapists too meet the needs of patients now and in the future.

At the Total Spine Health Program, patient treatment is overseen by Christian Athanassious, MD, a board eligible and fellowship trained spine surgeon from Stanford; Michael Star, MD, a board certified orthopaedic surgeon with fellowship training in spinal disorders from Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, CA; and Chris Krug, MSPT, an experienced physical therapist with post graduate training in manual therapy techniques and orthopaedic exercise progressions with emphasis on shoulder, knee and low back injuries.


Michael J. Star, M.D.

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Christian Athanassious, MD

Back and neck pain are two of the most common symptomatic reasons for seeking relief from medical professionals. In fact, about 80 percent of people will be bothered with back problems at some point in their lives . As the nation’s general population ages and a greater portion gains access to health care, projections from the Association of American Medical Colleges show that there will be a significant shortage of orthopaedic spine surgeons by 2020.

When it comes to accessing quality care for spinal disorders and related health problems in Sonoma County, the Total Spine Health Program at SRO provides both patients and referring physicians a complete, balanced approach to the treatment of spinal pathology. Since there are a wide variety of effective operative and nonoperative routes of care that can be taken depending on the nature of patient conditions, it makes sense for spine surgeons and physical therapists to share a role in diagnosing and treating patients with spine problems. The collaborative care offered at Total Spine Health Program combines knowledge and skills between physical therapists and orthopaedic surgeons at one site to ensure that all patients needs are met or exceeded, regardless of the type of back or neck problems and accompanying spinal disorders.

The treatment protocol for patients at the Total Spine Health Program is designed to maximize patient outcomes with the least invasive route possible. Treatment programs follow clinical guidelines based on the most current research. After initial evaluation with Dr. Athanassious or Dr. Star, if surgery is not determined to be mandatory, patients are guided through a physical therapy program designed to educate them about their own anatomies, causative factors, body mechanics, and activity modification. Next, they receive instruction showing effective exercises designed to strengthen core stabilizer muscles, and increase muscle endurance. SRO physical therapists also provide manual therapy to help release soft tissue tightness, improve circulation, and manage scar tissue.

Chris Krug, MSPT

Chris Krug, MSPT

When conservative care is not enough, surgery may be indicated. After training alongside some of the world’s finest spine surgeons at Stanford, Dr. Athanassious brings invaluable expertise and knowledge about the latest advancements in spine surgical and injection procedures to individuals of all ages in Northern California. SRO physical therapists have worked closely with Dr. Athanassious to develop post-operative protocols designed to safely guide patients through the rehabilitation process. The collaboration between therapist and surgeon continues throughout care at SRO.

At SRO’s spacious 10,000-square-foot orthopaedic treatment facility and state-of-the-art surgical centers, the Total Spine Health Program offers:

• Fellowship trained surgeons in spinal disorders and spine surgery
• A full-spectrum of spine surgical and spinal injection treatments
• A staff dedicated to providing exceptional spine care and education
• Personalized treatment strategies, reviewed weekly in collaboration between orthopaedic surgeons and physical therapists
• Comprehensive diagnostics with on-site radiograph services
• Integrated electronic patient records

The combined knowledge and skills between physical therapists and orthopaedic surgeons at one site enables an unprecedented level of care from professionals in parallel fields.

At Santa Rosa Orthopaedics, the Total Spine Health Program is one of many centers of excellence staffed with leading specialists in a variety of orthopaedic subspecialty fields. In its efforts to bring the best outcomes to patients, SRO has set the model for exceptional orthopedic care for over 60 years. SRO offers patients in-house diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation, sports injury prevention, as well as advanced surgical treatments in joint replacement, sports medicine, trauma care, hand, foot and ankle, and general orthopedic surgery.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Athanassious or Dr. Star at the Total Spine Health Program, call (707) 546-1922 (option #1), and visit www.srortho.com for more information.