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Spinal surgery

Expert assessment and advanced treatment for back problems

Comprised of a series of small bones (vertebrae), discs, nerves, joints, ligaments and muscles, the spine is the central support structure of your body. It is an incredibly complex structure and a problem in the spine – whether structural or functional – may have life-changing effects on your health, mobility and quality of life.

Problems in the spine are generally mechanical in origin and caused by wear and tear. However, very rarely there may be a link to a more serious condition which shouldn’t be ignored.

Common reasons people visit our spinal surgeons for help include: 

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sciatica (pain radiating down your leg into your foot)
  • Referred pains (pain in the hip, buttock or thigh) 
  • Numbness/weakness in the leg 
  • Spinal deformity 

If you have symptoms that are concerning you, it is sensible to get expert assessment and advice. The Consultant Spinal Surgeons at The Shirley Oaks Hospital manage and treat a wide range of spinal symptoms and conditions for adults of all ages. They would be delighted to help you too. 

Many people will experience a sore or stiff neck or back at some point. This will often be the result of a sports injury, being more active than normal, sleeping with the head at an unusual angle or lifting something heavy with the back poorly positioned. Symptoms may occur immediately or develop gradually over a few days. In many cases, the body will heal itself naturally over time and your symptoms will ease without the need for treatment.

In other cases, your symptoms may not go away, and may actually get worse over time. Pain anywhere in the back can have a debilitating effect on physical and mental health. If symptoms are relatively mild, it can be quite easy to ignore them. If they become more severe and start to limit movement and function, you may quickly realise that you need to get expert help.

Spinal problems should not be ignored, especially if they have gone on for more than six weeks. Expert assessment can bring peace of mind and give you clarity about the best way forward. Why not book an appointment with one of our experienced spinal surgeons today? 

It is important to know that many spinal conditions will not require surgery to treat. Non-surgical (conservative) treatments can be very effective at relieving symptoms. Being able to plan the best treatment depends on making an accurate diagnosis, and your consultant will ensure treatment is tailored for your specific needs.

Treatments for spinal problems include: 

Before spinal surgery is considered, less invasive treatments will normally be used first. This may involve input from specialities like Physiotherapy or Osteopathy. The priority of any treatment is to get you out of pain as quickly and fully as possible. 

If spinal surgery is required, this will be explained fully to you in advance so that you can make an informed decision about treatment. Spinal surgery offered at The Shirley Oaks Hospital includes: 

  • Minimally invasive (keyhole) spinal surgery can be carried out for a number of spinal conditions. As only very small cuts are made in the skin, pain is reduced, recovery is faster, and scarring is kept to a minimum.
  • A discectomy is carried out when a slipped disc is compressing a nerve and causing signs of loss of function. A small part of the disc is carefully removed in order to relieve the pressure.
  • Alternatively, a slipped disc may be treated with a percutaneous discectomy. Instead of using open surgery, a large needle is positioned into the disc using X-ray guidance and a laser then used to destroy the affected area. As no incisions are made, there is no scarring, significantly improving recovery times. 
  • A vertebral laminectomy / spinal decompression may be carried out to open up a narrowed area of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis). Bone and ligament are removed from the affected area as required. The operation may involve a discectomy, a laminectomy, a spinal fusion or a combination of all three, depending on the extent of the problem.
  • Vertebroplasty is used to treat pain from a fractured vertebra. A special bone cement is injected into the fractured vertebra to improve its strength.
  • Spinal fusion fixes vertebrae together in order to relieve back pain when other treatments have not been effective. Screws are placed into the vertebrae and then fixed together with rods. Bone grafts are placed around the joint in order to fuse to the vertebrae. Many people feel the benefits of a spinal fusion within a couple of weeks, but it will usually take 6 – 12 months for the bone grafts to fully fuse together.  

If we find serious pathology such as a tumour or infection, you will be immediately placed on a treatment pathway for that condition.

Whatever spinal symptoms or condition you may have, your consultant will ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment for your specific needs. At The Shirley Oaks Hospital, we provide advanced treatments and superb rehabilitation for spinal conditions.

Before any treatment can be planned and started, an accurate diagnosis needs to be made. This begins with a consultation. 

When you first meet with your consultant, they will take a medical history and ask you in detail about your symptoms.

A physical examination will be carried out of your back and other relevant areas.

MRI scans are extremely helpful for many spinal problems, as they can show problems like inflammation and bulging discs. If you have not had an MRI scan previously, this will be arranged for you on-site in our open MRI scanner.

Some conditions may require other investigations like ultrasound, CT or nerve conduction studies.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your consultant will meet with you again to discuss suitable treatment options. If you have any questions or concerns, they will be very happy to talk through them with you.

It may be that the best treatment option for you is an injection. This can sometimes be given in clinic by your consultant, but if X-ray guidance is needed, we will arrange it for you as soon as possible. 

When you visit The Shirley Oaks Hospital for help with your spinal condition, you will benefit from: 

Rapid access to an expert – Many spinal conditions are best assessed and treated at the earliest possible stage. We can arrange an appointment for you with an extremely experienced spinal surgeon consultant quickly, who will carry out a comprehensive investigation of your symptoms and condition. Once a diagnosis has been made, they will formulate the best treatment plan for you. 

Consultant-led care, always – You will always see the same consultant, and they will oversee every aspect of your care, from your first consultation through to your post-treatment follow-up. 

A multidisciplinary approach – Treating spinal conditions is certainly not a job for one person! Your consultant works extremely closely with specialists in other fields, including Radiology, Physiotherapy, Pain Management, Oncology, Neurology and Neurosurgery. Fast access to this multidisciplinary team means you will always be seen by the most appropriate specialist for your needs. 

Flexible appointments – It is easy to book an appointment for a time that is convenient to you. For your convenience, we also offer remote consultations by telephone or video call if required (and where clinically appropriate). 

Location – It is very easy to travel to us. The hospital is located on the outskirts of Croydon, within easy reach of major road and rail networks. Our car park has 100 spaces, so you won’t have to worry about where to park when you visit.

For peace of mind and known expert care for your spinal concerns, please contact us to book your private appointment at The Shirley Oaks Hospital today. 

Specialists offering Spinal surgery

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Mr Irfan Malik

Consultant Neurosurgeon & Complex Spine Surgeon

MB BS, FCPS(Neurosurgery), FRCS, FRCS(Neurosurgery), MSc

Shirley Oaks Hospital 1 more The Sloane Hospital

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Dr Rizwan Rajak

Consultant Rheumatologist

MBBCh (Hons), MRCP, MRCP(Rheum), LLM

Shirley Oaks Hospital

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Dr Michael Kotrba

Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon

MD, BSc Hons, FA f. Orth (D)

Shirley Oaks Hospital

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Mr Jonathan Walczak

Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon


Chelsfield Park Hospital 3 more Shirley Oaks Hospital The Sloane Hospital The Blackheath Hospital

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Mr Gavin Marsh

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBS University of London (Barts) FRCS FRCS (Orth)

Shirley Oaks Hospital

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Mr Awaiz Ahmed

Consultant Spinal Surgeon


Shirley Oaks Hospital

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