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At UW Medicine, we've got your back.

Integrating Experience and Skill

From managing acute to chronic back pain to treating a spinal disorder, we offer sophisticated treatment options informed by the latest research.

Personalized Care

Our diverse treatment options give you the choice. We offer a variety of nonsurgical therapeutic, minimally invasive and advanced surgical procedures.

Healthy Spine, Healthy You

Each of our spine clinics offers a team approach to help achieve your unique goals and improve your quality of life.

Featured provider

Meet the provider: Viral Patel, M.D.

Viral Patel, M.D., is a physician at the Orthopedic Oncology Center at UWMC-Roosevelt. View full bio.

Some of our common services:

Also known as cervical disc replacement, arthroplasty continues to advance spine care. Arthroplasty may be used to treat nerve or neck pain as an alternative to removing a disc and fusing the neck. Unlike fusion, arthroplasty maintains motion in the neck.

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Ligaments, tendons and muscles brace the spinal column and protect it from injury. When this system of connective tissue is damaged, it impacts the stability of the entire body. Our specialists work with you to determine the best recovery approach between surgical and nonsurgical options.

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Emotional support is an important part of your treatment. Support groups and community resources can help you and your loved ones through treatment and recovery.

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Spinal arthroscopy is used to trim and manage the degeneration of cartilage between vertebrae. It may be used as a pain management technique or or as a method to increase range of motion. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia via small incisions.

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To control inflammation, nonnarcotic medication may be recommended daily for a set length of time. Our spine specialists work with you to monitor your progress, adjusting doses and types of medication to match the unique needs and tolerance of your body.

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Our multidisciplinary spine care teams include highly skilled specialists such as physiatrists and physical therapists who can help you recover from painful or disabling spinal injuries and conditions using a variety of nonsurgical therapies.

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If you have a spine injury, a brace can provide proper stability and correction. Our highly trained providers work closely with you to fit your brace properly to your body in order to maximize function, comfortable movement and quality of life.

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Our physiatry team may work with you as an alternative or a complement to surgery. Together, spine specialists and physiatrists on your care team help you maximize independence and movement as part of the rehabilitation process.

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If you have a postural imbalance or postural disorder such as scoliosis, our spine specialists can recommend effective nonsurgical techniques for improving and supporting your posture, such as targeted exercises and customized back braces.

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Restoration and resurfacing may be used to reduce pain and enable greater motion by allowing the cartilage coating the bony surfaces of joints to glide over one another other with less resistance.

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Osteoarthritis of the spine can cause chronic back pain. Our spine specialists offer a variety of nonsurgical techniques for easing and managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis. These include the latest medications, targeted exercises, injections and alternative medicine.

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Lower back and leg pain may be caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. Many people with sciatica recover without surgery. Talk with your care team about the options to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve.

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We offer a full range of diagnostic imaging tests for the spine, including X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Our radiologists are board certified and specialize in musculoskeletal radiology.

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An EMG and nerve conduction velocity (NVC), often conducted at the same time, detect the presence, location and scope of disease that cause damage to muscles and nerves. Both tests are minimally invasive and measure muscle response or electrical activity resulting from muscle stimulation.

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The vertebrae in your spine can become dislocated or fractured, or can slip, due to acute or chronic injury. Our specialists can accurately diagnose and treat these conditions, which have similar symptoms and can occur at the same time.

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This effective, noninvasive test evaluates seven basic movement patterns to identify compensatory patterns, tightness or weakness that might be contributing to pain or injury in the back, buttocks or legs.

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Our clinics offer the complete range of musculoskeletal imaging tests including computed tomography (CT), myelogram, X-ray, ultrasound, positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Our radiologists bring deep expertise interpreting the tests to identify simple and complex conditions.

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Your posture is the position in which you hold your body while you're standing, sitting or lying down. Our spine specialists can expertly assess your static posture to identify any imbalances or disorders that could cause pain, discomfort or injury to muscles, bones, joints or nerves.

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Spinal osteotomy is a reconstructive procedure used to increase spinal stability, balance and alignment. During the procedure, the bones of the vertebral segment are cut and realigned. This approach may be used when nonsurgical treatments have failed to correct spinal deformity.

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Scoliosis refers to sideways curvature of the spine most often noticed during adolescent growth. While it may be caused by a condition like muscular dystrophy, in many instances, the cause is unknown. Our orthopedic specialists will work with you to discuss options if you notice changes to your posture.

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Expert members of our spine care team work with you to manage and treat the intense intermittent and chronic pain that can accompany degenerative disc disease. In many cases this condition can be managed through a nonsurgical treatment plan. Disc degeneration can speed the onset of other spinal conditions, so it’s important to schedule an appointment to address ongoing or intense back pain.

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Our multidisciplinary spine care teams include physicians, pain management specialists, nutritionists and physical therapists. We offer a variety of innovative nonsurgical therapies that can help promote healing, reduce pain and restore mobility.

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In this safe, minimally invasive procedure, our spine specialists deliver an injection of corticosteroid and numbing agent into the epidural space of the spine, between bony vertebrae. The injection can quickly relieve neck, arm, back and leg pain caused by inflamed spinal nerves due to conditions like spinal stenosis or a herniated disc.

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This safe, noninvasive therapy uses high energy acoustic waves to treat conditions such as chronic pain and reduced mobility in the lower back, hips and neck. Shockwave therapy helps increase blood flow and break up scar tissue in injured areas.

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TENS, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a painless, noninvasive treatment for acute back pain that uses low voltage electric current. We offer portable, battery-powered TENS units that attach to a belt for home use.

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Fluid may be removed from the space immediately around vertebrae using a needle and syringe as a means of diagnosis or to relieve pressure, along with associated pain. The procedure is completed under a local anesthetic.

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After a vertebra fracture or dislocation, bone fragments can damage or pinch the spinal cord or nerves, resulting in pain and limited mobility. Our spine specialists can accurately diagnose your injury and provide effective team-based care that includes immobilization, medication, physical therapy, pain management and other techniques.

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Inform yourself to make the best choices for your health and care with UW Medicine patient education resources.

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Our highly trained orthopedic and neurological spine surgeons provide state-of-the-art, minimally invasive treatment for a variety of spine conditions, including spinal arthritis, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, fractures, along with advanced treatment for conditions of the brain, spine and peripheral nerves. We work closely with other specialists to evaluate your condition and develop a comprehensive treatment and recovery plan.

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A herniated disc refers to the degeneration of spinal discs that act as cushions for each vertebra. From conservative management to physical therapy or surgery, your care team will work with you to diagnose the severity of the condition and create a customized treatment plan.

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Know when and where to seek help.

If you experience significant changes in your physical or mental functions and fear you have a serious, life-threatening illness or injury that could require emergency medical, surgical or psychiatric attention, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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You can also go to urgent care for non-life-threatening illnesses and conditions.

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Health News You Can Use

Condition Spotlight

Lower back pain

Overview

Low back pain can range from mild, dull pain to persistent, disabling pain in the lower back. Pain in the lower back can restrict mobility and interfere with normal functioning. Low back pain is classified as acute (or short term) and chronic.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include discomfort or pain in the lower back that is aching, burning, stabbing, sharp or dull. The pain may radiate into the thigh or hip area.

Risk factors

Aging and genetics may play a role in back pain. Occupational hazards, such as any job requiring repetitive bending and lifting, may also cause low back pain. Sedentary lifestyle and excess weight are also risk factors.

Diagnosis

Along with a complete medical history and physical exam, tests for low back pain may include imaging tests (X-ray, CT scan, MRI), a radionuclide bone scan and an electromyogram (EMG). Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment may include: activity modification, medicine, physical rehabilitation, therapy, osteopathic manipulation, occupational therapy, weight loss, smoking cessation or surgery. If rehabilitation is recommended, there are generally three phases that include reducing pain, returning to daily activities and increasing strength.

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