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Spinal surgery

Expert assessment, diagnosis and treatment for spinal concerns

The spine is the central support structure of the body. It is an incredibly complex structure, comprising vertebrae (bones), nerves, joints, ligaments, muscles and vertebral discs, and is involved in making many everyday movements, activities and functions possible. 

Any type of problem in the spine can have a significant (sometimes life-changing) impact on health, mobility and quality of life.

Problems in the spine are usually mechanical in origin and caused by wear and tear. However, very rarely there may be a link to a more serious condition which will require specialist treatment.

Symptoms of a problem somewhere in the spine include:

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

If you have symptoms that may be caused by a spinal problem, it is sensible to get expert assessment and advice at the earliest opportunity. Why not book your appointment at The Winterbourne Hospital now to get clarity sooner?

Most people will experience a sore or stiff back or neck at some point. This is often from a sports injury, or after they have lifted something at an odd angle. Symptoms may occur immediately or become progressively worse over a period of time.

In other cases, spinal problems may develop gradually over a longer period.

When any symptoms are mild and not interfering with daily life, it can be very easy to ignore them. It is often only when symptoms become worse and start limiting movement that medical advice is sought. 

Diagnosis is crucial to successfully treating any type of back problem. Unfortunately, it can be very easy to misdiagnose problems and to then use treatments that are not ideal for that specific condition.

Many people with a spinal problem will have previously sought help from other healthcare professionals, such as their GP, a rheumatologist, physiotherapist or chiropractor. While these may all be of help, they are not spinal specialists. When you choose to see an experienced spinal surgeon, you will benefit from their ability to diagnose the cause of the problem and to plan appropriate treatment based on their extensive experience.

If you would appreciate expert assessment and advice from a leading expert in spinal health, why not contact us to book your appointment?  

Although you will be meeting with a spinal surgeon, it is important to know that surgery will not always be needed. Indeed, a Consultant Spinal Surgeon can be described as a spinal specialist who can carry out surgery when required.

Treatment for spinal conditions may include:

  • Core muscle rehabilitation – to strengthen the spine and supporting structures
  • Pain relief medication (analgesia) 
  • Spinal injections – these contain an anaesthetic and steroid and may be diagnostic (to confirm a cause) or therapeutic (to treat the problem) 
  • Surgery – there are number of spinal operations that can be carried out, the most common are described below. 

A discectomy is normally carried out when a disc is compressing a nerve. A small part of the disc is surgically removed in order to relieve the pressure and resolve the problem. This operation is done under general anaesthetic with open surgery, using X-ray guidance. 

Spinal fusion can help relieve severe back pain where other treatments have not been effective. There are different ways this may be done, but in each case, vertebrae are fixed together to prevent movement between them in the future.

If your spinal canal has narrowed (this is known as spinal stenosis), a vertebral laminectomy/spinal decompression may be carried out. Spinal decompression may involve a discectomy, a laminectomy, a spinal fusion, or often a combination of all three and is carried out under X-ray guidance to ensure precision.

Kyphoplasty involves injecting a special bone cement into a fractured vertebra to reduce pain and prevent further collapse of the vertebra. This is often used for fractures caused by osteoporosis, cancer or benign (non-cancerous) tumours.

Facet joint denervation uses heat to alter the structure and function of nerves, changing the way pain signals are transmitted to the brain. 

Whatever spinal symptoms or condition you may have, your consultant will ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment for your specific needs. This starts with an accurate diagnosis. 

When you meet with your consultant, they will take a medical history, talk with you about your symptoms in detail and carry out a physical examination of your spine.

Nearly everybody who comes for a spinal assessment will need an MRI scan, which can help to demonstrate problems such as inflammation, disc bulges and vertebral problems.

Some conditions may benefit from other investigations like CT, CT-SPECT or nerve conduction studies. Some of these will need to be arranged outside the hospital if they are required.

While scans can be incredibly helpful, they do not always show everything. For example, a scan might show a slipped disc in a position that doesn’t correlate to where the patient has pain. A spinal surgeon will use all the diagnostic tools at their disposal (scans, joint injections, patient history and physical examination) to narrow down possible causes in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

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

If treatment will be with an injection, this may be given by your consultant during your appointment. If X-ray guidance is needed, it will be arranged for you at the earliest possible time.  

The majority of people who come to us self-refer having been recommended by a friend or family member. A number are also referred by another consultant or their private insurance company. 

Many of our patients are from Dorchester and the surrounding areas, but people also visit from Cornwall, Surrey and even internationally (including Poland and South Africa) for expert assessment and treatment.

When you choose The Winterbourne Hospital for your treatment, you will benefit from: 

Fast access to a leading expert – Many spinal problems are best assessed and treated at the earliest possible stage. We can arrange an appointment for you with a leading spinal surgeon without delay. 

Personalised care – You will always see the same consultant, and they will oversee every aspect of your care, from first consultation through to post-treatment follow-up. Treatment will be tailored to your specific needs and is easily adjusted if required. 

A multidisciplinary approach – Spinal treatment requires the support of an experienced team. Your consultant is aided in their work by a number of other specialists at the hospital, including radiologists, anaesthetists, oncologists, neurologists.

Convenient 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). 

Recommended by patients – In an independent survey, 98.4% of people treated by us said they were likely or extremely likely to recommend The Winterbourne Hospital to their friends and family. 

For peace of mind and expert care for spinal problems, please contact us to book your appointment at The Winterbourne Hospital today.