As a physical medicine and rehabilitation fellowship-trained physician specializing in interventional spine issues, Dr. Benjamin R. Humpherys has performed thousands of procedures to alleviate back and neck pain.
He brought his specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation to Tanner Clinic in 2008, after practicing for a year at St. Mark’s Hospital Pain Management Center, Salt Lake City.
A native of Bountiful, Utah, Dr. Humpherys received his B.S. in exercise physiology from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. He earned his Doctor of Osteopathic (D.O.) at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Kansas City, Mo.
Dr. Humpherys completed his residency at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., where he was named chief resident and awarded a faculty position at the university. He followed up with a fellowship in interventional pain at Southwest Spine and Sports, Scottsdale, Ariz.
He is board certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as the American Osteopathic Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Humpherys and his wife are parents of four children. He enjoys hiking, boating, golf, landscape photography, chess and sports.
Dr. Ben Humpherys specializes in pain relief of the spine.
He’s an expert in “pain intervention” of the spine’s nerves, discs and joints. He understands where to target injections designed to deliver pain relief to all the sore spots — you know, the aching areas we identify with such unpleasant adjectives as inflamed, swollen, pinching, bulging and slipped.
These injections of steroids and numbing agents can slow or block chronic pain for months and defer or prevent the need for surgery.
“People are in pain,” he says, “and we try to intervene.”
And when you’re dealing with such a tricky area as the spine, you want a physician who’s practiced in providing successful injections. That’s because an epidural injection, for instance, offers a target of only a few millimeters. Dr. Humpherys estimates he’s provided more than 12,000 injections over his career.
Dr. Humpherys and his physician assistant, Greg Rasmussen, specialize in spine pain that has eroded an individual’s ability to perform daily activities. Typically, that’s back pain, headache or neck pain. Nerve damage in the spine also shows itself in an extremity, such as numbness in the leg or weakness in the arm.
Other patients have neck pain, says Dr. Humpherys, adding, “Car accidents are one of the most common reasons I see people for neck problems.”
Referred by primary-care doctor
The first stop for a patient who has back pain should be to that individual’s primary care doctor, who will oversee a course of conservative treatments. If those treatments fail, or if the individual develops nerve damage problems, Dr. Humpherys’ services are often recommended.
The physician’s first step with new patients is to diagnose the reason for the back and nerve pain, based on history and often an MRI. “We look at the nerves, the discs, the joints, the vertebrae, the spinal cord,” he said. “We look at everything.”
Low-back pain is caused by a number of factors — a disc that is herniated or torn, bone growths, a nerve pinched by inflammation, or stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column). Often, the pain is caused by arthritis in the spine’s joints.
Live x-ray guides injection
The most common procedure Dr. Humpherys performs in an epidural steroid injection. The injection of steroid into the spine’s epidural space provides a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps calm the pinched nerve and the pain from an inflamed disc when there’s been injury. Steroid use must be regulated, he adds, because of such possible side effects as osteoporosis.
The injection needle is guided by what could be described as a “live” x-ray. The large machine, called a fluoroscope, allows the physician to “see the structures of the spine and where the needle is in relation to the anatomy,” Dr. Humpherys said.
Injection for arthritis pain relief
Another common treatment is radiofrequency nerve ablation, often used in place of steroids to alleviate arthritis pain. This procedure uses a special needle to burn the nerve, interrupting its signal to the brain. “We’ve learned that burning or stunning the nerve makes the effect last longer than steroid injections,” said Dr. Humpherys.
Dr. Humpherys explains that injections and other interventional methods are management strategies to help those with pain improve their limitations and better perform the activities of daily life.
Dr. Ben Humpherys and Dr. Michael Derr are specialists in physical medicine with practices at Tanner Clinic Layton.
Dr. Humpherys’ practice concentrates on spine and back pain, while next-door colleague Dr. Michael Derr works with patients seeking to relieve pain in the spine and peripheral joints like arms, legs, fingers, wrists, knees and shoulders.
Because Dr. Humpherys’ injections must be precisely targeted to the epidural space surrounding the bony structures of the spine, he uses fluoroscopy, a kind of live x-ray that shows bone structures.
Dr. Derr uses ultrasound, which reveals blood veins, tendons and tissue. Using ultrasound-guided injections, he can avoid veins and other tissue as he precisely targets his injections into muscle and joints. He also uses fluoroscopy.
“Dr. Humpherys office, especially Cathy, has been nothing but excellent in their care and management of my case. If ever there has been an issue anywhere within the Tanner Clinic Cath has been an invaluable resource helping reschedule it. Don’t know what we’d do without her.” -Jerome on in-house comment card, October 14th, 2015
“I have no words to explain how grateful I am for Dr Humpherys!! I have never met a Dr so willing to take time to talk, and find the source of the problem! I will forever be grateful for him finding a solution when 6 other Drs passed me over. Thank you, thank you!!” – Jen on Facebook, July 14, 2015
“Dr, Ben Humpherys has given my mother and me injections to relieve our pain. My mother was 92
at the time and he helped her so much. She passed away two years ago and I’ll never forget getting a sympathy note from the man we nicknamed ‘Gentle Ben.’ I plan to return to him to get relief from my back pain in the near future.” — Janet on Facebook, Jan. 13, 2015
“I can’t say enough to express my gratitude to Dr. Humpherys, his assistant Greg Rasmussen and (medical assistant) Kathi Luke for the excellent and thorough care they have provided for my husband. They are top-notch and I am at ease being in their care.” — In-office comment card, Sept. 12, 2014
“Dr. Humpherys and staff are excellent in all respects. Very caring and careful and concerned about my welfare. Great job, you guys!” — Doug of Layton, in-office comment card, April 2, 2014
“Dr. Humpherys is wonderful to work with. He listens and gives great feedback and advice. Won’t give unnecessary meds or injections.” — RateMDs.com, Feb. 7, 2014
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