What is really exciting about modern spinal healthcare is the great advances that have really happened over the past decade, especially even over the past 5 years. When you think of old spinal treatments, everybody gets scared and they’re afraid they’re not going to get better. But, with the modern care, we get everybody back to their life. The interesting thing is when you look at the robotic surgery, the stem cell therapies, minimally invasive procedures, people are getting better faster, spending less time in the hospital, and getting back to their lives — and that’s what’s important. But of all these great advances the one that excites me the most are the disc replacements in the neck.
When we take a look at cervical artificial discs, or cervical arthroplasty, this is a way for us to treat severe neck and arm problems without having to fuse the neck. 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 getting better faster and doing better short-term as well as long-term and this is really exciting. It’s extremely important to me because I’ve got bad neck problems — in fact 4 years ago I had surgery on my neck because of the problems I was having. It was 2 disc replacements I had put in my neck and I’m so excited because now 4 years later I’m back to being a surgeon, I’m an active father, I’m playing golf, playing tennis, playing football with my kids, doing so many things that in the old days would have been more of a problem. So, I’m excited about these advances not only for myself, but for my patients because they can get back to their lives like I did.
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.