schuler md website bio

Dr. Thomas Schuler

Spine Surgeon
Founder of VSI

Dr. Schuler’s personal journey AS A PATIENT:

Dr. Schuler understands firsthand the challenges of dealing with neck pain, as he has experienced it. His journey from struggling with debilitating symptoms to reclaiming an active life and sustaining a demanding career through customized surgery combining disc replacement and spinal fusion surgery fuels his dedication to helping patients find relief and regain their quality of life.

Dr. Schuler is named among America’s Top 50 Spine Surgeons and serves as the Chairman of the National Spine Health Foundation’s Medical and Scientific Board.

Dr. Schuler’s passion for his patients’ recoveries is fueled by his experience as a patient. Watch Dr. Schuler’s journey as he went from debilitating neck and arm symptoms back to an active life and physically demanding career as a result of the modern marvels of hybrid spine surgery

In 1992 Dr. Schuler founded Virginia Spine Institute to create a center of exceptional healthcare that did not exist in the Metro-DC region. This was necessary since the field of spine surgery was in its infancy. Today, his powerful vision has resulted in an internationally renowned institute. Through his leadership and medical innovations, Dr. Schuler has revolutionized spinal healthcare, thus transforming the lives of millions worldwide. 

Dr. Schuler is double-board certified and trained in neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery of the spine. He is a recognized international leader in the treatment of neck and lower back conditions. Dr. Schuler is noted among the 100 best spine surgeons and specialists in America. US News and World Report named him among the top 1% of physicians in his specialty nationwide. He serves as President of the National Spine Health Foundation and Chairman of its Medical and Scientific Board. His work with this national non-profit organization enables him to collaborate with his peers, the top spinal surgeons in the nation, to educate the world as to the most effective treatments in modern spinal healthcare. 

Not only is he a world-class surgeon, but Dr. Schuler has also been on the receiving end of spinal surgery. He suffered from severe neck pain, three-disc herniations, and nerve compression which resulted in him undergoing a cervical hybrid surgery. Interestingly, Dr. Schuler performed the first hybrid multilevel cervical artificial disc replacement and spinal fusion in the Nation only a few months before his surgery. His recovery further instilled in him greater empathy for his patients’ emotional and physical needs.


  • University of Notre Dame

Medical School

  • Indiana University School of Medicine


  • Orthopaedic Surgery, William Beaumont Hospital (Royal Oak, Michigan)


  • Spinal Surgery
  • Kerlan – Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic (Los Angeles, California)

Double-Board Certified

  • American Board of Spine Surgery
  • American Board of Orthopedic Surgery


  • Fellow, American College of Spine Surgery
  • Fellow, American College of Surgeons
  • Fellow, American College of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Chairman of the Medical and Scientific Board, National Spine Health Foundation
  • North American Spine Society
  • Young Presidents Organization (Past Chairman)
  • Eagle Scout

Dr. Thomas Schuler’s
Surgical Highlights

  • First Three-Level Cervical Disc Replacement in the Mid-Atlantic Region
  • First M6-C™ Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement In DC-Metro Region
  • First in the Mid-Atlantic region to utilize the Mazor X™ System for transformative robotic spine surgery
  • Nation’s first combined multi-level hybrid cervical disc replacement and fusion surgery
  • Introduced robotic spine surgery to the mid-Atlantic region
  • Introduced endoscopic and minimally invasive (micro) tubular fusions to the region
  • Developed minimally invasive fusion technology; meaning less trauma to the patients
  • Introduced Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement surgery to the Washington DC region
  • Introduced Lumbar Artificial Disc Replacement surgery to the Washington DC area
  • Initiated the first use of synthetic bioabsorbable implants in fusion technology
  • Obtained FDA approval for genetic engineering of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). This has revolutionized spinal fusions – it has made them more successful and less painful and has eradicated decades of failed surgeries
  • Developed genetic engineering of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) to improve spine surgery
  • Introduced the use of laser in spine surgery to the DC region
  • Developed single incision, minimally invasive lumbar spine fusion (TLIFs)
  • Established anterior and posterior combined spinal fusion procedures to treat disabling degenerative disc pain as a standard of care
  • 1992: Dr. Schuler is recognized as the first fellowship-trained spine surgeon in the region (trained in both orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery)


Cervical Hybrid Constructs Reduce Superior Adjacent Segment Burden Compared to Multilevel Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion.

Journal of Spine Surgery (2024)

Augmented Reality-Assisted Spine Surgery: An Early Experience Demonstrating Safety and Accuracy with 218 Screws.

Best Paper 2022 – Global Spine Journal, June 1, 2023.
Global Spine Journal. January 2022. 

90-Day Complication and Revision Surgery Rates Using Navigated Robotics in Thoracolumbar Spine Surgery

Best Paper 2023. “90-Day Complication and Revision Surgery Rates Using Navigated Robotics in Thoracolumbar Spine Surgery” Podium Presentation at the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery, San Francisco, California, June 1-3, 2023

Anterior Cervical Hybrid Constructs Reduce Upper Adjacent Segment Hypermobility Compared to Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion

Poster Presentation at the Global Spine Congress, Prague, Czech Republic, May 31st, 2023.

Intradiscal Injection of Autologous Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate Improves Low Back Pain at One Year

Poster Presentation at the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, Boston, MA, May 11th, 2022.

Opioid Use After Elective Spine Surgery: Do Spine Surgery Patients Consume Less than Prescribed Today?

North American Spine Society Journal. 23 November, 2022.

Opioid Utilization After Elective Spine Surgery: How Many Pills Are Leftover? 

Podium Presentation at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, Chicago, IL, March 26th, 2022.

What Patients Are Saying

Reputation Reviews

Dr. Schuler’s Resources

Empowering Patients with Knowledge and Hope for a Pain-Free Life


What to Ask your Doctor if you’ve been Prescribed Opioid Medications


Total Disc Replacement Beats Spinal Fusion to Keep Patients in Motion After Surgery


Advice From A Spine Surgeon: The Secret To A Healthier And Happier Life

Join the Patients We’ve Helped on the Road to Recovery