Treatment for Conditions of the Back, Spine, and Neck

Back and neck pain can range from irritating to severely debilitating. In many cases, these kinds of pains go away without treatment, but if you have been suffering sharp, severe pains, or aches that have lasted longer than two weeks, you may need surgery to help you recover.

Spinal surgery is recommended for patients who have had serious injuries or who have tried other treatments that have not worked to alleviate their symptoms. The board-certified surgeons at the Spine Surgery program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) New Brunswick have completed advanced orthopedic surgery training and are well qualified to provide comprehensive assessments and treatments for conditions of the spine, back, and neck. When our physicians determine that spinal procedures are required, they will involve you in the decision making every step of the way.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Advancements in technology have made many spinal procedures simpler and less invasive. Many procedures can be done with only a few small incisions in the back, making the post-surgical recovery period easier. Robotic surgery allows for precise, image-guided placement of hardware, while allowing the surgeon to perform simple to complex surgeries safely, accurately, and efficiently.

RWJUH offers high-tech, minimally invasive spine surgery with the assistance of the Mazor Robot. The Mazor Robot facilitates accurate placement of screws into the fragile spine, reducing the rate of nerve damage. Our highly trained surgeons are able to give patients a safer surgical experience through decreased radiation exposure, lower complication rates, and reduced post-operative pain, which enables the patient to get back to their daily activities faster than before. Learn more about how doctors at RWJUH use this advanced technology in the video below.

Common Spinal Procedures

Following are some common procedures to treat conditions of the back, spine, and neck:

  • Disc removal and disc replacement – Each of your vertebrae is cushioned by rubbery pieces of cartilage called discs. Discs absorb shock and keep vertebrae in place. When a disc gets damaged or slips out of place, pressure is exerted on the spinal nerves. When this is the cause of your back pain, an orthopedist can perform surgery to remove or replace the defective disc.
  • Spinal fusion – Many forms of back pain can be treated with spinal fusion. In this procedure, two vertebrae are fused together, limiting their movement and protecting spinal nerves from damage. Spinal fusion is very safe and, in most cases, the fusion does not limit the patient’s range of motion.
  • Foraminotomy – In this procedure, bone is removed along the side of the vertebrae in order to relieve pressure on the nerves. A spinal fusion may also be required to strengthen the spine.
  • Laminectomy – The lamina is a piece of bone that covers the spinal canal. During a laminectomy, the lamia is removed to widen the spinal canal and relieve pressure on spinal nerves. This is a common treatment for spinal arthritis, which can cause the lamina to develop painful growths.

Pain Control with Multimodal Analgesia

To ensure the best possible pain relief after surgery, our doctors use a pain control approach called multimodal analgesia. Multimodal analgesia means that you will receive two or more medications that provide pain relief. When used together, they block pain signals more effectively.

Multimodal analgesia is used to:

  • Reduce your pain after surgery
  • Help you recover more quickly and easily
  • Decrease your need for opioid medications

Opioid medications include drugs derived from the opium plant (such as morphine) and also man-made drugs designed to have similar pain-reducing effects (oxycodone and hydrocodone). Opioid medications provide effective pain relief, but taking them regularly can lead to physical dependence and, sometimes, addiction.

Multimodal analgesia includes medications that you receive before, during, and after surgery. Some of these medications may be familiar to you; for example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Celebrex, Toradol, and others) are commonly given before and after surgery.