The Center for Spine Health

The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics includes a team of physicians, nurse practitioners and physical therapists working together to provide comprehensive treatment of spinal disorders in adults and children. Our clinical team has specialized expertise in the management of spinal pain, disc herniations, stenosis, tumors, trauma and scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine). Our spine specialists at University Orthopedics include:

The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics

The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics includes a team of physicians, nurse practitioners and physical therapists working together to provide comprehensive treatment of spinal disorders in adults and children. Our clinical team has specialized expertise in the management of spinal pain, disc herniations, stenosis, tumors, trauma and scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine).

To make an appointment with the University Orthopedics Spine Center, please call (401) 402-1030.


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Improving care of back & neck pain with a team of complementary specialists, outcomes tracking & an informed patient

Four out of five Americans will have an attack of back pain during their lifetime. Research studies document that 33% of on-the-job injuries relate to back or neck pain. It is the second-most common reason for days off work behind the common cold. In the United States, $50 billion is spent annually on the management of back pain. Many of these unproven treatments (e.g. belts, magnets, etc..) are a waste of time and money.

A work in progress

The good news is that 80% of the time, a simple episode of back and neck pain will go away on its own. The bad news is that the other 20% of people may have a more serious spine problem such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis. For these individuals the symptoms can go on for years and may produce permanent disability.

Even a simple muscle strain can plague a person for life. That’s because once you have your first back pain attack, you are four times more likely to have a recurrence. This can happen because many patients don’t address the underlying cause of back or neck pain, which can include lifting something too heavy, or lifting it incorrectly, or having a back that is not flexible and not strong enough to resist strain.

spine center rhode island, spine surgeon rhode islandThe Center for Spine Health approach to back and neck pain

Recognizing the national trend toward a Center of Excellence approach for complex health problems, University Orthopedics takes a “spine center approach” to back and neck pain. This includes a team composed of four fellowship-trained spine surgeons, along with an occupational health physician, a nurse practitioner and physical therapists who specialize in the nonsurgical management of back and neck pain.

The University Orthopedics Spine Center is a work in progress. We continue to expand our clinical team in order to meet the needs of our patients with spinal problems. In the coming years, we will be adding additional nonoperative care specialists with expertise in musculoskeletal disorders and pain management. We have begun the process of tracking clinical results and will soon be able to publish a clinical outcome report for employers and health insurance providers.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a Center of Excellence for spine care in the Rhode Island region. We already receive referrals from across Southern New England. These patients with spinal problems travel great distances to University Orthopedics in search of pain relief and for help in getting their lives back.

Multidisciplinary, team approach

The problem with spine care is that care is highly fragmented. Too many times, the patient receives a treatment recommendation that is biased to the type of physician providing the treatment. Patients, employers and health insurance companies desire and deserve a team of clinicians (non-surgeons, physical therapists and surgeons) working together under one roof. We have installed a spine center approach where patients exhaust their non-surgical options before surgery is considered.

Part of this spine center approach is a commitment to patient education. We have a 36 page Home Remedy Book that we provide to patients. This is also the core component of our recommended Home Exercise Program. Ideally we want every person coming through The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics to receive a copy of this book so they understand their exercises and what symptoms need to be evaluated quickly by a spine specialist.

spine surgeon rhode island, spine center rhode islandMany patients, for example, don’t understand the significance of arm or leg weakness caused by a spinal problem. While it may be appropriate to use nonoperative measures and watchfully wait for arm or leg pain to resolve, loss of strength in the extremity may need to be treated more quickly and aggressively. In some cases, delaying treatment for a serious neurologic deficit may result in permanent loss of strength and/or sensation.

The University Orthopedics Spine Center has developed a content-rich Internet presence to help our patients understand their specific problem. The educational material on our website includes print, pictorial and narrated video content. There is information on spinal conditions and treatments, an anatomy library, an exercise library, symptom charts and a description of home remedies. This Internet presence represents a virtual encyclopedia on spine care.

Advanced surgical techniques

spine surgeon rhode island, spine center rhode islandIf and when spine surgery becomes necessary, the surgeons at University Orthopedics are trained in the latest minimally invasive techniques. In this type of surgery, smaller incisions are used with less disruption of muscle and soft tissue. These less invasive procedures usually enable a patient to be discharged sooner and recover more quickly with less pain when compared to traditional procedures.

For patients with cervical degenerative disc disease, spine surgeons at University Orthopedics also perform artificial disc replacement surgery in select cases. The artificial disc is one of the most significant advances in the field of spine. The mechanical disc replicates the function of the normal healthy disc.

Spine Navigation and 3D Imaging now at University Orthopedics in Rhode Island

spine navigation technology for spine surgery in rhode island, 3d imaging used by spine surgeons during surgery
Image below shows pedicle screw planning.
Image used courtesy Stryker® Corporation.
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Most people who have watched a 3D movie on a big screen, will agree that it is a pretty cool technology. When it comes to 3D imaging for spine navigation to asist with complex spine surgeries, physicians and patients would both agree that this technology is a welcome addition to the operating room as well.

Dr. Mark Palumbo, Dr. Craig Eberson and Dr. Phillip Lucas at the University Orthopedics Spine Center in Rhode Island now apply the power of navigation technology to spine surgery. The Spine Navigation System places the spine surgeons at University Orthopedics at the forefront of computer assisted surgery for spine in the nation. Read more here.