Approx. 80 percent of Americans will experience an episode of back pain that is lifestyle-altering at some point in their lives. At Washington Health System, we specialize in the care of spinal disorders and the prevention and relief of back pain.

The Washington Health System’s team of physicians and surgeons provide comprehensive surgical treatment of spinal diseases and injuries. Our physicians and surgeons are experienced in all spinal disorders, including tumors, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, vascular malformations and arthritis of the spine. State-of-the-art treatment is provided by our coordinated team of neurosurgeons, consulting medical specialists, therapists, nurses, and support staff. Our goal is to improve each patient’s quality of life with the most advanced, and least invasive, treatment available. Some of the clinical services provided include the treatment of:

  • cervical, thoracic, and lumbar disc disease
  • adult compression fractures
  • cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis
  • scoliosis and spinal deformity
  • arthritic conditions of the spine
  • cervical and lumbar artificial disc replacement

Back pain can be caused by certain diseases and traumatic injury but research has shown that the most common causes of injury or back pain are: incorrect bending or lifting techniques over a prolonged period of time, or poor physical condition, poor posture, and improper body mechanics.

Many patients will become symptom-free in four to six weeks without requiring surgery. Surgery is only considered when the problems do not resolve with a non-surgical approach, and are limiting the patient’s ability to move. With urgent spinal problems, those that are causing or may cause loss of neurological function—immediate surgery may be necessary.

Spine Care Services

WHS Washington Hospital neurosurgeons perform hundreds of spinal surgeries per year using the newest and most advanced techniques available. Patients are feeling better and returning to their lives faster than ever before. Neurosurgeons at Washington Health System are involved in pioneering new techniques to improve outcomes every day.

A minimally invasive surgical procedure that is typically used for smaller, less severe disc abnormalities. Involves removing a portion of the herniated disc to decompress an irritated nerve root through a skin incision that can often be covered with a small bandage. Often, patients undergoing micro-discectomy are discharged the same day. If you are admitted to the hospital post-operatively, the average length of stay is less than 24 hours.

This procedure is performed on the lower spine to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots. The surgeon reaches the lumbar spine through a small incision in the lower back and removes the source of compression – a part of herniated disk or bone spur.

This operation is performed on the upper spine to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots or on the spinal cord. During this procedure, the intervertebral disc and bone spurs are removed from a small incision in the front of the neck.

Patients with osteoporosis or metastatic disease can develop painful compression fractures of the spine. Through a percutaneous procedure, WHS Interventional Radiology physicians are able to use balloons within the bone to restore alignment of the spine. Cement is then injected in to the bone to provide support where the bone has been weakened. Pain relief can be nearly immediate and recovery time is minimal. This procedure is often done on an outpatient basis.

Performed to treat long-term pain and disability caused by degenerative arthritis, fractured or injured vertebrae, scoliosis, osteoporosis, spinal tumor, and spondylolisthesis. Fusion permanently joins two or more bones in the spine together. Instrumentation involves the insertion of screws, hooks, rods, plates, and wires to improve spinal stability. WHS Washington Hospital neurosurgeons employ the latest techniques and materials to perform spinal fusion and instrumentation procedures.

Total disc arthroplasty or artificial disc replacement is a procedure that involves removing an intervertebral disc and replacing it with prostheses for patients with severe degenerative disc disease. This procedure avoids fusion and can restore a near normal spine motion. In the appropriately selected patient, pain relief is dramatic. WHS Washington Hospital neurosurgeons have been instrumental in studying the use of artificial discs in the cervical spine.

To ensure a smooth transition from hospitalization to life in the community, we provide comprehensive discharge planning, assistance with entitlements from disability programs, and various forms of adaptive training. Our comprehensive rehabilitation team consists of physiatrists, consulting medical specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and case managers. This coordinated approach contributes to the maximal recovery for each patient. Click here for more information on WHS Outpatient Rehabilitation Services.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most hospital stays are 1 to 2 days. There are certain goals your physicians, nurses, and therapists would like you to meet to ensure that you are ready to go home safely.

  • Drainage from the incision
  • Unusual odor from the incision
  • Redness or swelling at the incision
  • Increase in pain
  • Temperature above 100 degrees or greater

There is a possibility you may be discharged with a drain in place. If so, detailed instructions regarding the care of the drain will be provided upon discharge, and the same information will be located on your discharge instruction sheet. If you are discharged with a drain in place, it is typically removed by your surgeon in 1 to 2 days.

Your wound care is ordered by your individual surgeon and will be instructed to you by your nurse. The wound care instructions will be located on your discharge instruction sheet.

Depending on what type of material is used to close your surgical incision, your follow-up appointment with your surgeon will vary from 10 to 14 days, to 3 to 4 weeks after your surgery. This information will be included on your discharge sheet.

Your surgeon will discuss this with you at your postoperative office visit.

Your surgeon will determine this on your day of discharge; specific instructions will be located on your discharge instruction sheet.

When you are able to return to work will be determined by your surgeon and your individual needs.

During your hospital stay, your physical therapist will instruct you regarding the type of exercises you are to perform at home, as well as how often you are to perform them.

Your surgeon will determine if it is necessary for you to wear a brace following surgery. If you are required to wear a brace, detailed instructions regarding the brace will be provided on your discharge instruction sheet.