Back pain is one of the most common reasons for a doctor's visit. UC San Diego Health System has some of the nation's top spine surgeons, physiatrists and anesthesiologists.
Skilled in therapeutic and diagnostic care, our multidisciplinary team will help you overcome your spine condition using the most advanced surgical and nonsurgical treatment options available.
Developing improved treatments for addressing spine conditions is a cornerstone of our work. Through our research programs, we explore advanced procedures, technologies, devices and medications, and provide patients access to clinical trials of new therapies.
Spinal conditions our specialists treat include:
Most spinal conditions don’t require surgery. Our team will work with you to utilize nonsurgical solutions when possible (e.g., therapeutic exercise, injection therapy and medications). Read more about our Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation program.
Back pain that occurs along the spine can often be treated without surgery.
Common nonsurgical treatments include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications (over-the-counter or prescription)
- Short-term bed rest (two to five days)
- Activity alteration
- Minimally invasive spinal injections (for patients who are not a candidate for surgery)
By combining non-operative therapeutic methods with a customized physical therapy program, our physiatrists are able to treat patients' specific conditions such as herniated discs, arthritis, musculoskeletal injuries, and low back and neck pain.
Patients who need surgery are in good hands at UC San Diego, as we have some of the most accomplished spine surgeons in the world.
Our spine specialists have expertise in:
- Minimally invasive surgical procedures for vertebral fractures
- Lateral minimally invasive approaches for anterior lumbar interbody fusions (XLIF or DLIF) for degenerative conditions scoliosis and trauma
- Cervical, thoracic, lumbar and lumbosacral intervertebral disc removal
- Spinal cord injuries
- Vertebral hemangiomas
- Spinal tumors
- Spinal stenosis
Read more about treatments for spinal conditions.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
The field of spinal surgery is being transformed by minimally invasive surgical techniques. We are at the forefront of innovations in minimally invasive spinal surgery, providing a broad range of therapies for spinal disorders and injuries.
Minimally invasive procedures include:
- Endoscopic surgery for disc disease and spine motion preservation
- Decompressive techniques
Using specialized instruments to decrease the size of the incision and reduce injury to surrounding tissue, spinal disorders treated by our spine surgeons results in less pain, quicker recovery, and improved functioning.
Patients who are candidates for minimally invasive treatment include those with:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal fractures
Read more about minimally invasive spinal surgery at UC San Diego's Neurological Institute.
Open Spine Surgery
Some spinal conditions require open or traditional surgery to give the surgeon appropriate access to the spine.
Conditions that may require open surgery include:
UC San Diego spine surgeon reunites with NBA Hall of Famer.
Advances in computer and imaging technologies provide our surgeons with the ability to have extended vision of the patient's spine during surgery. This helps guide the surgeons to critical areas of the spine, minimizing disruption of nearby muscles, tissues, nerves and blood vessels.
Total Disc Replacement
During total disc replacement, a degenerative disc is replaced with an artificial disc.
Advantages of total disc replacement over a conventional spinal fusion:
- Shorter recovery time
- Reduced postoperative discomfort
- Most patients can return to normal and full-motion activities within six weeks (compared to 3-6 months after a fusion procedure)
UC San Diego spine surgeons have been directly involved with the development of some of these surgical techniques, as well as many FDA clinical trials.