Chief Clinician

With almost 25 years of clinical practice behind him, Dr. Eric Degis brings a wealth of experience to HealthQuarters. Specializing in conservative, non-surgical treatment of spine and musculoskeletal disorders, his innovative approach in the treatment of chronic low back issues has helped thousands of active New Yorkers avoid surgery and return to their favorite activities free of pain and dysfunction. Having provided injury prevention workshops to NYC’s top fitness professionals for over 20 years, Dr. Degis has served as lead instructor in musculoskeletal pathologies for Equinox’s Fitness Training Institute, head of personal trainer education at New York Health & Racquet Club, and team doctor for the World Aerobics Championship. 

For those who are unfamiliar with your profession can you explain what a doctor of chiropractic is?

A doctor of chiropractic is a spine and musculoskeletal specialist who is educated in a similar way to a medical doctor in that they can evaluate, diagnose, order imaging, and determine the proper course of treatment for specific conditions. Chiropractors are considered “conservative care” doctors in that they do not prescribe medication or perform surgery. They look to help people using the least invasive methods. 

Within the profession, there are also subspecialties and variations of treatment approaches. My focus is on the diagnosis and treatment of chronic spine and musculoskeletal issues, in particular, low back related dysfunction. My approach incorporates manual medicine techniques such as myofascial release, advanced stretching, targeted manipulation, as well as corrective exercises geared towards restoring functional movement.

What was your inspiration for going into your field?

I was a chronic low back pain sufferer for almost 10 years in my late teens into my 20’s. Living through this firsthand motivated me to learn how to help myself when others couldn’t. It also made me realize that other people needed me to share my experiences and to help guide them through their own chronic issues. 

What do you think has helped you be successful in your practice? 

I believe in the three T’s: time, team, and trial. It takes time to uncover and correct causes, and then even more time to practice and learn how to move again. This can require a team effort by other professionals who all have the same goals for the patient and will work symbiotically for the patient’s needs. It can also require some trial and error. 

No two patients are alike, and their response to care will vary. So keeping an open mind to be able to change, modify, and adapt my approach to their needs is mandatory for each patient’s success.

Can you describe your approach to care? 

My approach is straightforward but time-consuming. I listen intently to patients as they describe their history and prior treatments which helps to uncover causative factors as well as failures in their prior care. I evaluate their everyday activities to uncover destructive stress which may be leading to continued dysfunction. I use manual medicine techniques and corrective exercise to restore functional movement. And then I educate and empower my patients to be able to take care of themselves. I invest time in their care which most often yields dramatic returns.

Do you specialize in a particular type of injury or patient care?  

Most patients are referred to me after many years of failed treatments, often after seeing numerous specialists and therapists. These individuals have been labeled as chronic pain sufferers and are often left frustrated and on the verge of surgical intervention.

While I do not treat pain itself, I do focus on the causes of the pain—which most often permanently addresses the pain. I’ve had a lot of experience and some incredibly positive results with low back issues, including herniated disks, sciatica, stenosis, degeneration, and piriformis syndromes. In addition, I’m well-versed in chronic issues of the neck, headaches, carpal tunnel, and other nerve entrapments. 

What can a patient expect on their first visit?

After the initial consultation is scheduled, the patient will be interviewed remotely to determine if they are a candidate for my care. I want to understand their condition and determine in advance if I can help them. If it’s a good fit, then their first in-person appointment will involve an extensive physical examination. 

After all the information is obtained and the consultation is complete, we’ll discuss treatment options, and I will share a plan. Patients leave their first visit with confidence and assurance that they were listened to, and all their information was used to diagnose and determine the best next steps for them. Any referrals for imaging or to additional providers will also be made if necessary. 

What is your relationship with the medical community?

In general, many of my patients have been referred to me by their medical doctor. These practitioners and I have built a trust in each other’s individual abilities and realize that when we combine those skills together to co-manage a patient’s condition, the results far outweigh our individual contributions.

I also know the limitations of the conservative care that I provide to my patients. And when things are not progressing as expected, I require that the patient be evaluated by the proper medical specialist to help determine if co-managing their case is needed. 

Medication, injections, or surgery may be the next steps that could allow for better resolution of their condition. For this, my patients trust that I always have their best interest in mind in my treatment approach, as well as in referring them to other doctors if it is clinically warranted. 

What excites you most about practicing within HealthQuarters?

In the past, if a patient came to me with chronic low back issues and it was discovered they had an unmanaged blood sugar issue, I would send the patient to an outside medical doctor who would send them to a lab for blood work, and then they would be sent to an outside nutritionist. 

At HealthQuarters the referral process in house is seamless. I can have the patient see an MD, have blood tests run, and then see our in-house nutritionist all without running around town. And the most exciting part is that we can all communicate with one another so as to provide the best possible care for the patient.

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your life outside of medicine? What do you like to do with your time? Any passions or hobbies?

I’m a former high school and collegiate athlete, and at age 54 still love being active—especially while spending time outdoors with my family. Snowboarding, sea kayaking, and hiking are without a doubt my favorite outdoor activities. Working in NYC does limit those outdoor activities a bit, so I’m typically at the gym at 5 AM every morning when I can’t be outside. I’m also a huge Minnesota Vikings football fan, and each year I plan a trip to see a game in a different city with the family. They may never win a Super Bowl in my lifetime, but I will never give up hope!

Dr. Eric I. Degis, MS, DC, the founder and chief clinician of New York Spine Health, has been providing conservative non-surgical treatment solutions for chronic spine and musculoskeletal related disorders since 1997. With over twenty five years of clinical practice, he's passionate about helping active patients avoid surgery and return to their favorite activities free of pain and dysfunction. You can make an appointment with Dr. Degis at HealthQuarters here.

Helping chronic spine and pain sufferers get back to life.

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