Spine Disorders

The spine, or backbone, is made up of 26 bone discs called vertebrae, which protect your spinal cord and allow you to stand and bend. Many things can change the structure of the spine or damage the vertebrae and surrounding tissue, including birth defects, infections, injuries, tumors, conditions commonly caused by aging such as spinal stenosis and herniated disks, and diseases such as scoliosis and transverse myelitis.

Spine disorders often cause pain and/or limit movement when bone changes put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Treating these conditions can involve multiple medical specialists including neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat physicians, or ENTs), plastic surgeons, vascular surgeons, neuroanesthesiologists, and critical care specialists. Treatments vary depending on many things but can include various types of traditional surgery as well as minimally invasive procedures that require only a few small incisions (cuts). The treatment plan also may include physical therapy, targeted medications and injections, back braces, and lifestyle changes such as stress management.

The UAB Medicine Department of Neurosurgery provides comprehensive treatment plans and advanced surgical care for a wide range of spine disorders and injuries. Our spinal neurosurgeons work with a team of experts in interventional neuroradiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical therapy, orthopaedics, and neuro-trauma to deliver the most effective care possible to each patient, and they use the most advanced diagnostic, treatment, and monitoring technology. Many of the surgical procedures they perform can be accomplished using minimally invasive techniques, often resulting in less post-operative pain and shorter hospital stays. In addition to the main clinic on the UAB Medicine campus, UAB Medicine Neurosurgery operates a clinic conveniently located just off U.S. Highway 280 in the Greystone community. The results our patients experience are better than the national average.

The department is consistently ranked among the top 50 programs of its kind in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. UAB Medicine’s spinal neurosurgeons are board-certified or board-eligible and have completed fellowships in spinal surgery, and they are active in teaching other surgeons across the nation though courses and meetings. As leaders in their field, they have devoted their careers to studying and researching spinal conditions and treatments. They have written guidelines for spine care that are in use nationwide, and they contribute to scientific advances in spine surgery through cutting-edge research. UAB strives to provide the highest quality evidence-based spine care to our community. The information listed in this report provides data on key performance measures that reflect our commitment to excellent care.

In 2015, UAB Medicine launched one of the world’s only clinics devoted to treating transverse myelitis – a rare spinal condition similar to multiple sclerosis that causes the loss of motor function or paralysis. This clinic combines UAB Medicine’s expertise in several areas, including rehabilitation, neurology, neurosurgery, urology, and pain management, along with access to physical, occupational, and speech rehabilitation therapists and specialists in orthotics (cushioned medical devices for the feet).

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