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Spinal surgery

Back pain is a problem for an estimated 28,998 people in Harrogate, with 18,041 people in the local area suffering severe back pain

Clinician-examining-patients-lower-back-painBack pain is a problem for an estimated 28,998 people in Harrogate, with 18,041 people in the local area suffering severe back pain. Only slightly further afield in Leeds, 120,8842 people are estimated to be living with a back problem.   Many people will find their back pain can be managed at home while others will need expert assessment and treatment to successfully relieve their symptoms. In some cases, and for some spinal conditions, surgery may be required.

The Duchy Hospital in Harrogate provides fast access to expert, consultant-led care for a range of spinal problems and back conditions. Treatments available include physiotherapy, joint injections and a range of spinal operations.

At The Duchy, we can arrange a private consultation for you quickly and easily with a specialist in spinal health. Depending on the condition you have or your specific symptoms this may be a physiotherapist, an orthopaedic spinal surgeon, a neurosurgeon or a pain management specialist.

Your spine is an incredibly complex structure made up of vertebrae (small bones), discs, nerves, joints, ligaments and muscles. Due to the complexity of the spine and its many varied functions (including movement, support and protection), any problem in the spine can have a debilitating, potentially life-changing impact on health, mobility and overall quality of life.

Problems in the spine are often caused by wear and tear. However, there may very occasionally be a more serious condition which will need urgent treatment. This is why spinal problems or back concerns should never be dismissed or ignored.

The most common reasons for people visiting the spinal surgeons and neurosurgeons at The Duchy for a private consultation include:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pain radiating down the leg and into your foot (sciatica)
  • Pain in the hip, buttock or thigh (referred pain)
  • Numbness/weakness in the leg
  • Spinal deformity (e.g. kyphosis or scoliosis)

If you have symptoms anywhere in your spine that have not improved over six weeks, are having a significant impact on your quality of life or are causing you concern or anxiety, it is important to get expert advice.

The spinal surgery team at The Duchy manage and treat a wide range of spinal symptoms and conditions for adults aged 18+ and would be delighted to help you access the support you need without delay. Book your private consultation today for peace of mind and specialist guidance.

We asked Mr Kenan Deniz, Consultant Neurosurgeon, to describe the impact that spinal conditions can have on quality of life. He told us: “Spinal conditions can be debilitating and all-consuming, with a profound effect upon quality of life”.

Mr Deniz was keen to emphasise the difference the right treatment can make: “Spinal surgery in carefully selected patients carries a high chance of success and a low risk of complication including nerve injury. The resultant improvement in symptoms or even their resolution can often be life-changing for the patient as well as hugely rewarding for the surgical team.”

Back pain can vary for each person and may be described in several different ways; by its location, its type, its severity or by how long it has gone on for.

Common words and phrases used to describe symptoms include:

  • Sharp/severe back pain
  • Dull/aching pain
  • Relentless/constant back pain
  • Sporadic/intermittent back pain
  • Pain in one specific area of the back
  • Diffused/generalised back pain

Common types of back pain include:

  • Acute back pain - Refers to back pain that starts suddenly, lasts for anywhere between a couple of days to days or 3 – 6 months but then gradually eases. You can read more about acute lower back pain here.
  • Chronic back pain - Often lasts longer than 6 months and usually affects the lower back. Pain is usually severe and the long-term nature of it can have a significant impact on mental health (in addition to the physical challenges it causes).
  • Neuropathic back pain - Pain caused when nerves are damaged and then heal, but pain messages continue to be sent through the central nervous system.
  • Non-specific and mechanical back pain - Back pain with no obvious cause. ‘Mechanical’ in this case refers to pain felt in the muscles, joints or soft tissue around the spine. This includes back pain caused by poor posture, a pulled muscle in the back, or pain caused by stress and tension in the back.

Some people find their back pain changes depending on their position. For example, movement may make the pain worse while lying or sitting down eases the pain (or vice versa).


Because the spine stretches from neck to pelvis, you may experience pain anywhere along it and even into the legs. When you see your spinal consultant at the Duchy, you may be struggling with pain in your:

  • Neck
  • Middle or lower back
  • Leg (this is known as sciatica)
  • Pain in your hip, buttock or thigh (this is known as referred pain)

Alternatively, you may have a weakness or numbness in one or both of your legs, or a spinal deformity that is causing you problems.

The location of your back pain will often (but not always) aid diagnosis, so your consultant will want to know about any pain you are getting in your back, as well as any other symptoms.

Although you will be seeing a spinal surgeon or spinal neurosurgeon at The Duchy, it is important to emphasise that many spinal conditions can be well managed and treated using non-surgical methods. As per NICE guidelines3, spinal surgery will only ever be considered when non-surgical treatments are not able to provide effective symptom relief.

Treatments for spinal conditions include:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Pain relief medication (analgesia)
  • Spinal injections – these may be administered for diagnostic purposes (to confirm the cause of pain) or for therapeutic purposes (to treat the problem).
  • Surgery – can be open or minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery

If spinal surgery is required, this will be explained fully to you in advance so that you can make an informed decision about treatment.

We asked Mr Deniz to give us an overview of the spinal surgery he carries out on-site at The Duchy:

“Most of the spinal work at the Duchy hospital involves degenerative conditions such as disc prolapses, stenosis and nerve root entrapment primarily within the cervical and lumbar spine. I commonly treat patients with debilitating arm pain, sciatica, neck pain and back pain, and problems with their mobility (claudication) and dexterity resulting from spinal conditions.”

 Spinal operations available at The Duchy includes:

Due to their complexity, some advanced spinal surgeries may be carried out off-site. As Mr Deniz explains:

“I also have a very complex cranial neurosurgical practice on the NHS based at Leeds General Infirmary where I treat complex Neurovascular conditions (aneurysms, AVMs), complex skull base conditions including acoustic neuroma, meningioma, trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm (by performing Microvascular Decompression) along with all other general neurosurgical conditions.”

Whatever spinal symptoms or condition you have, your consultant will tailor any treatment to your specific needs.

The NHS has a helpful tool to see current estimated waiting times for access to treatments. You can see the current waiting times for orthopaedic treatments (which includes spinal surgery) within the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust by visiting the My Planned Care NHS website.

When you click the link, you will be able to see the current waiting time for a first outpatient appointment and for treatment.

Waiting times for spinal surgery vary and can be affected by factors including increased demand and availability of operating theatres (and staff), as well as ongoing Covid-related issues.

As a result, many people living in Harrogate and the surrounding areas are now choosing to visit The Duchy for private spinal surgery to help avoid delays in being seen elsewhere.

When you first meet with your spinal consultant at The Duchy, they will discuss your symptoms in detail with you to get a good understanding of the challenges and issues you are facing because of them.

They will carry out a physical examination of your back and other relevant areas (such as your legs or hips). 

Many back problems benefit from an MRI scan, which can show problems like inflammation and bulging discs. Other conditions will require different diagnostic investigations like X-ray, ultrasound, CT or nerve conduction studies. These will be arranged for you if needed.

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 these through with you so that you have clarity about what would be best for you.

If spinal surgery is advised, this will be arranged for you at The Duchy as soon as possible. 

We believe that the benefits of coming to The Duchy are best summed up by Mr Deniz. When describing why he does his work, he says:

“The attraction of performing spinal surgery at the Duchy Hospital for me is the opportunity to make a huge difference to patient’s lives through performing safe and effective surgery whilst working alongside like-minded colleagues who also prioritise the highest quality of care for our patients.”

  • Fast 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. (By way of example, Mr Deniz can usually see patients within two weeks. To help keep waiting times at The Duchy down as low as possible, he also runs additional ad hoc clinics when needed)
  • Consultant-led care, always – You will always see the same consultant, and they will oversee every stage of your care, from first consultation and assessment through to treatment and post-treatment follow-up.
  • Teamwork – Due to the complexity of many spinal operations, your spinal consultant works closely with specialists in other fields, including Radiology, Physiotherapy, Pain Management, Oncology, Neurology and Neurosurgery to ensure you always receive the best possible care.

Specialists offering Spinal surgery

Mr Gnanamurthy Sivakumar

Consultant Adult and Paediatric Neurosurgeon


The Duchy Hospital

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