A New Approach to Medicine: The Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Spine Center

Brings Comprehensive, Specialized Care to Fort Bend

Dr. Vincent Wang and Jonathan Wilson.

Dr. Vincent Wang and Jonathan Wilson.

By Michelle Johnson  •  Photography by Nesossi Studios –

Dealing with medical issues is simply a part of life. From the mundane to the more severe, we all seek and consult with medical professionals on a routine basis. Fortunately, we live in an age where excellent medical care is available. The downfall is that when we require the attention of a specialist, things can become more stressful, and many times, more complicated.

That is certainly the case for patients suffering with back pain, the second leading medical condition that brings patients to their doctor’s office. Eighty percent of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives, and with its widespread prevalence, back and neck pain can be difficult to properly diagnose and treat.

For many years, patients in search of a back and neck pain specialist had to endure a trip to the Medical Center, left to navigate the path of specialized medicine on their own, making an already stressful situation much more so. Fortunately, this additional stress in seeking specialized health care is no longer necessary as the answer to quality, specialized health care for patients suffering from back and neck issues is right here in Fort Bend.

Comprehensive Care

For those needing a highly skilled medical specialist for the back and neck, the answer is at the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Spine Center, where they have streamlined specialized health care, always putting the patient first. Can you imagine calling directly to the facility that you need without a referral from your primary physician and getting an expedited appointment with a highly skilled professional?  Not to mention a safe place where all of the physicians and staff communicate with each other and you, the patient.

This type of service is only available at the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Spine Center. From self-referrals to physician referrals, patients can expect an experience like no other.  From the initial inquiry, patients speak with the nurse navigator Maureen Lall, nurse practitioner with clinical expertise in spine and neuroscience nursing, who will schedule all of their appointments quickly. The nurse navigator will remain in communication with patients continually throughout the process to discuss and educate them about their condition and treatment plan, serving as their personal advocate for care.

Jonathan Wilson and physical therapist Dan Kershner.

Jonathan Wilson and physical therapist Dan Kershner.

Skilled Professionals

A staff of 17 skilled neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, pain management specialists and neuroradiologists have been assembled to provide the most comprehensive back, neck and pain program available in southeast Texas. As the first of its kind in the region, the Spine Center also provides outpatient physical therapy. Patients have the benefit of physical therapy, occupational therapy and aquatic therapy.  These skilled professionals work one-on-one with patients to develop treatment programs aimed at regaining function, increasing mobility and providing pain management, as well as restoring skills necessary for daily living.

Advanced Technology

The Spine Center patients have  access to Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s state-of-the-art imaging technology and operating suites,  along with an in-house lab to ensure patients benefit from timely results. If surgery is the best course of treatment, patients can be assured that they have the most highly skilled surgeons available. Imaging equipment includes four CT Scanners and three whole body 3-Tesla MRI machines including a 3-Tesla Wide Bore MRI for larger or claustrophobic patients, the only one of its kind in our area.

Meet Jonathan Wilson Patient – Houston  Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Spine Center

Jonathan Wilson was raised in Fort Bend County and attended Clements High School.  After school, he began his military career, and now at 35 years-old, he is part of the Air National Guard as an Avionics Specialist.   His mobility is an important part of his life, not only in his job, but at home where he and his wife are raising their three children.

“I was at the gym working out,” recalled Wilson.  “I finished my workout, and by the time I got home, I knew something had happened.  I was experiencing pain in my neck and left arm.”

Dr. Cheryl White, Interventional Pain Management Specialist.

Dr. Cheryl White, Interventional Pain Management Specialist.

Three days after his injury, Wilson contacted his primary care physician, and was referred to Dr. Cheryl White, an interventional pain management specialist and a founding member of the Spine Center. During his visit, x-rays and an MRI of his neck and spine were completed to determine the cause of his pain.  The test results indicated that compressed nerves in Wilson’s neck were the cause of his pain. Dr. White administered an epidural steroid injection which decreased the intensity of his pain. After exhausting nonsurgical forms of treatment, Dr. White referred Wilson to her colleage, Dr. Vincent Wang, neurosurgeon at the Spine Center, for further evaluation.

Dr. Vincent Wang, Neurosurgeon.

Dr. Vincent Wang, Neurosurgeon.

“I received a call from the Spine Center and was scheduled for an appointment immediately,” said Wilson.  “Dr. Wang was great.  He explained exactly what was going on with my neck.  We went over the MRI results, and he showed me my compressed nerves.”

Wilson shared that the information he received from Dr. Wang made him feel secure knowing that he was in the hands of an expert. “Dr. Wang felt that a month of physical therapy at the Spine Center would be our first course of action. He informed me that surgery was a last resort.  I was relieved that Dr. Wang did not suggest surgery to start with.”

Wilson completed one month of therapy at the Spine Center. “The physical therapists were very experienced and took excellent care of me.” Each session with the therapists was customized to concentrate on Wilson’s problem.

After completing physical therapy, Dr. Wang concluded that therapy was not producing the results he desired. It was determined that surgery was required to alleviate Wilson’s pain and repair the damage. Dr. Wang discussed the surgery in detail. He explained it was a minimally invasive procedure that would require an overnight stay.  Wilson’s surgery was a success. “Dr. Wang was great.  He placed the incision on my neck between a fold so that eventually you would not even notice the scar.”

Life After Treatment

Wilson has been able to return to his normal activities. “Before the surgery, I was in pain, I had no strength in my left arm and my mobility was greatly reduced. Now, the strength is back in my left arm, and my mobility is almost where it was before I was injured. I have been able to do my job and be an active part of my children’s lives.”

Dr. Wang has continued to follow Wilson’s progress.  “I attended follow up visits with Dr. Wang and physical therapy sessions after my surgery.”

Wilson expressed how thankful he was for the care he received from everyone at the Spine Center. “These people are amazing! They are top notch and very knowledgeable. If something ever happened again, that’s where I would go.  I would also say that if you have a spine or neck injury, don’t wait to get medical help. Go to the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Spine Center because they can help you. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

To schedule an appointment, contact the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Spine Center at 281-313-BACK (2225).

200-methodist logo

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital offers a wide range of neuroscience services including:

• Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

• Aneurysm

• Back & Neck Pain

• Balance Disorders

• Brain & Spinal Cord Tumors

• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

• Concussion Management

• Dementia/Alzheimer’s

• Epilepsy

• Movement Disorder Management

• Migraine Management

• Multiple Sclerosis

• Nervous System Tumors

• Neurodegenerative Disorders

• Neuromuscular Disorders

• Parkinson’s Disease

• Peripheral Nerve Injuries

• Sleep Medicine

• Stroke Management

For more information about our neuroscience program or a referral, please contact Maureen Lall at 281-313-2225 or mplall@houstonmethodist.org.