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Spinal surgery

Advanced surgical procedures for your spinal concerns

For something as specialised as spinal surgery, the symptoms you experience with a spinal concern can be surprisingly general. You may have no idea what’s wrong, and no idea what the treatment is, leading to growing anxiety alongside any pain you may be in.

Possible symptoms of a spinal condition include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pain radiating down your leg into your foot
  • Sciatica (pain in the sciatic nerve, normally felt as pain in the hips, buttocks and upper legs)
  • Numbness/weakness

These symptoms tend to affect those of working age, commonly in the 35-65 age bracket. This can be due to lifting something awkwardly, or perhaps incurring a sports injury. You may not realise it at the time, but after a few days the severe pain sets in. An accurate diagnosis is clearly necessary to get you on the right path towards recovery.

Very often, the injury or condition is nothing serious, and our consultants can provide reassurance, drafting in our dedicated physiotherapy team to help in your rehabilitation.

If the pain is severe, or you’ve tried alternative measures and they haven’t been effective in reducing your pain, why not call us at Woodlands to book an appointment with a specialist orthopaedic consultant? Some patients are referred through their GP, but increasingly our patients are self-referring, allowing you to take control of your own healthcare needs.

We can book you in promptly, as well as getting any previous MRI scans transferred across, gathering your information in one place for added convenience and efficiency in your initial consultation.

Many conditions can be effectively managed with non-interventional means, but should you require surgery, the Woodlands team offer exemplary care and advanced surgical procedures to best help you recover.

A discectomy is normally performed for a slipped disc which impinges on a nerve, and involves removing a small portion of the disc. Traditionally this is done under general anaesthetic in open surgery, with an incision usually a couple of centimetres long. This is a reliable form of surgery, but patients often need up to 6 weeks off work for recovery.

Alternatively, a percutaneous discectomy can be offered under sedation as a day case, enabling you to go home on the same day. This specialist surgery involves inserting a large needle into the disc under x-ray guidance, and through the disc your surgeon can vaporise the affected area with a laser. With no incision, there is nothing to heal, meaning patients can normally return to work after a few days.

This surgery is not widely offered elsewhere in the North East, making Woodlands the ideal choice for minimal-access spinal surgery.

Spinal Fusion is for patients with a lot of back pain, who have been unresponsive to other measures. If a very worn or arthritic disc is uncovered during an MRI or x-ray, a spinal fusion may help by stopping any movement of the painful segment. This is achieved under general anaesthetic by placing titanium screws into the vertebrae, linking them together with rods and bone graft around the joints of the spine, which fuse together over time. Although it normally takes from 6 months to 2 years to fully fuse, many patients feel the benefits within a few weeks.

At Woodlands, we have the benefit of minimal-access spinal fusion techniques, with smaller incisions in the back, allowing for a quicker recovery, with patients often able to carry out physically-demanding work within 6-12 weeks.

The first stage of any consultation is for your consultant to take a medical history and have a detailed discussion about your condition and symptoms, typically lasting around 30 minutes. They will want to know:

  • What are your symptoms? How long have you had these symptoms?
  • Can you describe the pain?
  • Is it a stabbing pain or does it spread out?
  • Are your symptoms constant or intermittent?

A physical examination will then be conducted carefully and thoroughly. This can be to assess the health of your spine and check for any nerve root dysfunction, or signs of pain coming from somewhere else.

For example, you may present with back pain, but upon investigation it may be revealed that the source of pain is in your sacroiliac joint (which attach the base of the spine to the pelvis), and treatment can be tailored accordingly.

An MRI is normally required to confirm a diagnosis, and this can be done at our on-site imaging unit. These scans help to highlight inflammation as well as issues like disc bulges and vertebrae problems.

With an accurate diagnosis confirmed, your Consultant can present you with all your available treatment options, depending on your specific condition and the expected outcomes.

Treatment for many conditions can be administered within this initial consultation, such as steroid injections or local anaesthetics. These injections may be into the source of pain (such as directly into the sacroiliac joint) or around the nerve root (known as a foraminal epidural injection, with a 0.7mm in diameter needle, far removed from the kind normally associated with epidurals).

You can also opt to have these injections performed under x-ray guidance for added accuracy, available as a day case procedure. In 70% of cases, these injections can make your condition permanently better, with 90% of patients reporting improvements for conditions such as sacroiliac joint pain. This means a vast majority of patients need no further treatment, save for some repeat injections if appropriate.

If injections and other measures such as physiotherapy have been ineffective, surgery is sometimes necessary to bring you relief.

Our Woodlands spinal team are experts in minimal-access surgery, ensuring an efficient process and faster recovery times, getting you back to good health with reduced symptoms as soon as possible.

Choosing to have your spinal surgery at Woodlands comes with a host of benefits, such as:

  • Assessments ASAP – Certain back and neck conditions are best treated at the earliest possible stage. If you’ve been experiencing any of the associated symptoms, our consultants can see you for an assessment without delay, getting you an accurate diagnosis and the necessary treatment before your symptoms progress any further.
  • Patient Satisfaction – 98.2% of other patients in 2019 said they would happily recommend Woodlands Hospital to friends and family in an independent report, and we’re confident that you’ll agree. 98.3% also said that the quality of care here at Woodlands Hospital was either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. We aim to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible, and these results highlight our continued efforts to ensure this is achieved.
  • Advanced Surgical Procedures – Woodlands is the premier practice site for advanced spinal surgical procedures, with top consultants in the area offering these procedures exclusively. With quicker recovery times thanks to minimally-invasive specialist techniques, it’s no wonder patients travel from far and wide for these services.
  • Personalised care – We believe in a bespoke approach to treatment, tailoring each experience to our patients’ needs and whatever may be best for you. This is regularly reviewed, ensuring you get the necessary treatment at every stage of your patient journey.
  • A Multidisciplinary Approach – Our teams at Woodlands work in tandem with each other to provide you with the best possible care from start to finish. Working closely with a dedicated team of physiotherapists, radiographers, anaesthetists, and nurses, as well as links with Oncology and Neurology, you have support from medical professionals every step of the way during your treatment.
  • Convenient Appointments – With flexible appointments available at dedicated clinics, you are sure to find an appointment slot that suits your needs and availability.

If you have a pre-existing back condition, or if your back and neck have been causing you problems, why not book a consultation with one of our orthopaedic specialists today?

Our consultants can outline all treatment options for you promptly, arranging any necessary diagnostic scans, treatment and surgery if required. For peace of mind and expert care, please contact Woodlands to book an appointment now.

Specialists offering Spinal surgery

Mr Daniel John Fagan

Consultant Spinal Surgeon

MBChB MRCS (Eng) FRCS (Tr&Orth)

BMI The Duchy Hospital 1 more BMI Woodlands Hospital

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Dr Ashish Gulve

Consultant in Pain Management and Anaesthesia

FRCA, FFPMRCA, FFPMCAI, DPMed, FCARCSI, MD, MBBS

BMI Woodlands Hospital

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