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Dispelling a Common Myth About Spine Surgery

Authored by Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS. February 23, 2022

When people have a back injury, they’re often concerned they won’t ever get better. But I’m here to tell you that modern spinal healthcare is one of the great advances over the past decade. Whether it’s through robotic surgery, stem cell therapies or minimally invasive procedures, people are getting better faster, spending less time in the hospital, and getting back to their lives more quickly.

One of the greatest advances that really excites me is disc replacements in the neck. Now we can treat severe neck and arm problems without having to fuse the neck. When we take a look at cervical artificial discs, or cervical arthroplasty, we put in a device that preserves the motion at the affected level, rather than putting a bone graft in to make it rigid. This means more motion through the affected levels, but also no stress on the adjacent levels. With this we see patients recovering more quickly and doing better short-term as well as long-term. As a spine surgeon, this is really exciting.

This is also extremely important to me because I’ve experienced major neck problems myself. In fact after suffering from severe neck pain, disc herniations, and nerve compression, I underwent a cervical hybrid procedure to treat four levels of my neck, and I also had low back surgery. So I now know personally what it feels like to undergo these procedures and I also know that full, pain-free recoveries aren’t just possible — they are the norm. These advances really are changing lives.

I say this not only as a spine surgeon — but as a patient too.


Dr. Thomas Schuler is a world-renowned, double board certified spine surgeon; trained in both neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery of the spine. He founded Virginia Spine Institute in 1992 and is a recognized international leader in the treatment of neck and lower back conditions. Dr. Schuler is noted among the 100 best spine surgeons in America, and serves as President of the National Spine Health Foundation as well as Chairman of its Medical and Scientific Board. Learn more about Dr. Schuler.

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About The Author

Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS

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