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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on May 16, 2006

NextStep Rehabilitation Services offers new comprehensive program for arthritis

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Georgetown, SC - NextStep Rehabilitation Services, a member of the Georgetown Hospital family, has announced the development of a program designed to treat persons with arthritis of the spine. John LaRochelle, Executive Director for NextStep Rehabilitation Services, describes the program as unique. “With ArthritiSpine, we use a variety of treatment methods to manage the pain and debility of arthritis,” says LaRochelle, “Relying solely on one therapy technique or philosophy may not be effective in every case. In order to determine the right course of treatment for each person, we perform objective tests to assess his or her ability level.”

In the initial evaluation, the therapist takes into account problems with movement, ability to stabilize and protect the spine, overall muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular conditioning. Following this analysis, the therapist develops a customized treatment program, which addresses the person’s specific needs. “The comprehensive evaluation and treatment approach of ArthritiSpine is based on widely published scientific data on arthritis of the spine and effective treatments.” LaRochelle says.

Arthritis is an umbrella term that encompasses more than 100 medical conditions affecting nearly 70 million adults and 300,000 children in America. Arthritis affects the musculoskeletal system, causing pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to cartilage. As a result of wear and tear, aging, injury or misuse, arthritis can occur in any part of the body, even the spine.

The ArthritiSpine program is tailored specifically for people with arthritis of the spine and focuses on pain relief, healing, restoring function and movement, improving body mechanics, as well as overall fitness and wellness. ArthritiSpine addresses the following symptoms, commonly caused by arthritis of the spine:

  • Back pain that comes and goes
  • Spinal stiffness
  • Pain and tenderness in the neck, shoulders, or lower spine
  • Referred pain into the arms, legs or pelvis
  • Limited range of motion, decreased movement
  • Decreased participation in activities of daily living

“Educating individuals on methods to alleviate their symptoms and how certain movement patterns may aggravate their condition is a central component of ArthritiSpine. Every participant receives information on home exercise programs, as well as how to protect their other joints-including the hips, knees, and shoulders-while performing neck and back exercises. We also show them how to increase the strength and flexibility of their spine and offer information on lifestyle changes to prevent further injury.” states John LaRochelle.

To gauge the effectiveness of the program, ArthritiSpine utilizes standardized outcome tools, which measure functional abilities both at initial evaluation and program completion. This information is shared with all program participants and their physicians.

“Almost everything you do, every way you move, affects your back,” LaRochelle says. “With ArthritiSpine, we are trying to help people understand the reasons for their back problems, how to correct them, and how to protect their body’s chief support-their spine.”

NextStep Rehabilitation Services offers ArthritiSpine as well as many other specialty services, including aquatic, hand, vestibular, pediatric, fall prevention and Lifespine programs, in five clinic locations throughout the Grand Strand region. Clinics are located in Georgetown, Andrews, Pawleys Island, Litchfield, and Murrells Inlet. Please call 237-5956 for information on how to receive services with any of the NextStep programs. NextStep provides physical, occupational, and speech therapies and accepts most all insurances.


Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 70 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.