The Migraine and Spine Clinic of Valdosta is the game changer when it comes to treating migraine and spine pain. Opened in 2017, the clinic is the only specialized urgent care in South Georgia that treats patients with acute migraine episodes and back pain with non-narcotic nerve blocks and steroid injections, which allows most patients to go back to work and daily life right after treatment.
Business owner and Valdosta University alumnus Josh Batson is a neurology nurse practitioner who brings his philosophy of patient-first medicine to The Migraine and Spine Clinic.
The idea of the clinic was born when Batson was working as a provider and heard the horror stories of migraine sufferers that reminded him of what his wife went through years before he went into medicine. Batson witnessed severe attacks early on in their marriage, often accompanying her to the ER waiting room where migraines were not usually treated as emergent cases.
“After hearing the same accounts over and over, I thought, ‘There has to be a better way,’” he said. “Part of my training in neurology was in nerve blocking techniques to abort active migraines. We began working patients in on a call-in basis requesting treatment for active migraines during normal office hours.
“This worked great for current patients and when we could work them in, but then the thought of ‘What about other migraine sufferers?’ kept popping up. I wanted a place that could quickly and effectively treat an acute migraine attack while keeping the migraine sufferer in mind from the time they entered until they left.”
The clinic grew from there. While migraine treatment is Batson’s passion, he is also trained in spine disease management, something that is often treated similarly to migraines in an ER. Batson’s clinic is trying to change that misconception.
“There are some quick, safe, and effective treatments that can help acute attacks or flare ups for those people too,” he said. “By having an urgent care clinic in the community specializing in head, neck, and back pain, we help prevent some of these non-emergent patients from going to the ER and in turn help keep the wait times down while allowing ER professionals to focus on true emergencies.”
Most of Batson’s philosophy of putting the patient first derives from his background in customer service in the restaurant industry, which he implements in his work now to give patients the best care possible.
“The hospitality industry can teach you a lot about people, life, and yourself,” he said. “I learned so many skills over the years, but I would say learning about and how to manage people was the most useful. I was the guy who comes to your table after you complain to your server. My job was to fix the problem and ensure you left happy. Seems simple enough; however, I quickly learned different things make people happy.
“One basic takeaway from all this is that you can’t put people in a box and treat them all the same way. Unfortunately, modern day medicine’s approach is this way. I believe in individualizing a person’s care. My migraine patients are almost all different. Sure, they all have the same neurological disease, but it presents in each of them a little differently. So my plan of care is customized for each person. I created this business because a group of people needed help, and I had the ability and know how to do it.”
It was also important for Batson to surround himself with a team that had the same passion and empathy for patients. Along with Batson, Justin Haskins and James Garrett, both of who are nurse practitioners, bring their neurology expertise and offer the clinic the flexibility to be open seven days a week. Haskins suffers from neck and back pain, and Garret suffers from migraines. They understand and know from personal experience how a patient is feeling when they come into the clinic.
Equally as important was that the patients felt welcome and understood from the time they arrived (or called). Both Rebecca Moore and Glenda Homer are caring individuals and have an understanding of the symptoms patients suffer from.
Since its opening two years ago, The Migraine and Spine Clinic has grown slowly but surely and is set up with low-lit rooms, recliners, and cool temperatures for patients coming in suffering from symptoms. Batson described what a typical day is for him at the office.
“We are an urgent care clinic, so our days vary on patient counts,” he said. “In the beginning, it was not uncommon to have days with no patients at all. We have been blessed to have steady growth over the last two years and a loyal patient base, so those days are few and far between anymore. We treat predominantly acute migraine attacks, but we treat a good bit of sciatica. These flare ups can derail someone’s plans. We are here to get you back on the right track.”
The clinic is known as a game changer because it is the first of its kind in the area to specialize in this specified urgent care.
“We are a great option for head, neck, and back pain sufferers who need relief fast,” Batson said. “We are faster, more economical, and more willing to treat these disorders than the ER. It allows the ER to focus on true emergencies by peeling off a group of would-be patients that would otherwise further clog up the waiting room.”
Batson’s clinic also uses non-narcotic nerve blockers and steroid injections to help reduce pain. Batson explained that research shows that narcotics can help headaches in the short term but lead to rebound headaches later on and sometimes at a more intense level of pain than before. He believes using alternative methods to pain management is what contributed to their success and growth.
“We customize each treatment to each patient and their symptoms, and because of this we have had a high rate of success,” he said. “”Pain is the No. 1 reason people go to the doctor. In a time when everyone is focused on not giving patients opioids, we need other options or pieces to the puzzle. Lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, and physical therapy are all pieces of the puzzle that already exist in the world of medicine and have for some time. We have to be able to offer patients meaningful pain relief, and we believe the Migraine and Spine Clinic does just that.”
Written by: Alex Dunn | Photography by: Eric Vinson