The spine is your body’s central support system. It is a complex structure made up of bones (vertebrae), discs, nerves and the spinal cord. The spine connects different parts of your musculoskeletal system, supporting your body as you walk, twist and move.
You may experience pain or difficulty moving because of a back injury or another issue. At Weill Cornell Medicine, we understand that any spinal condition can negatively impact your quality of life, making it difficult to enjoy the active life you want.
The spine specialists at Weill Cornell Medicine are here to help. With our compassionate care, you can live fully.
Our spine specialists aim to improve your quality of life using a holistic, empathetic and patient-centric approach. We collaborate with you to understand your goals — and then individualize all treatment to help you achieve optimal health and well-being. All of our interventional spine physicians are board-certified and fellowship trained in interventional spine procedures.
Contact your physician or go to the ER immediately if you have been injured and are experiencing low back pain with fever, chills, leg weakness or sudden bowel and/or urinary incontinence. This may be a sign of more serious conditions that need prompt care.
Individualized, non-surgical spine care: Our expert and compassionate team of rehabilitation medicine specialists are here to help you achieve the functional health you want to pursue a full and vibrant life. Our doctors prioritize listening to you, understanding your condition and goals.
Our patients include children, adolescents and adults of all ages and activity levels. We care for all types of spine pain by creating an individualized treatment plan to improve each patient’s quality of life, mobility and range of motion.
Focus on empowering our patients: We are passionate about educating our patients. We empower you with information, exercises and other tools so that you can manage and improve your spine health, as well as make confident decisions about your care.
Multidisciplinary care from leading experts: When you choose Weill Cornell Medicine, you have access to a network of doctors and specialists. Our experts specialize in diagnosing the conditions that can lead to spine pain.
Our team approach includes physiatrists — physicians who help patients restore movement and alleviate pain — as well as nurses, physical therapists, who work together to provide comprehensive and expert care. Some of our physiatrists have advanced trainining in interventional spine procedures, providing a minimally invasive option for pain that does not respond to medications or exercise, but which does not require surgery.
Weill Cornell Medicine partners with NewYork-Presbyterian, the #1 hospital in New York and one of the top hospital systems in the U.S.
About back and neck pain: The spine (or backbone) is your body’s central support system. It is made up of bones (vertebrae), discs, nerves and the spinal cord. The top seven vertebrae in your neck comprise the cervical spine; they support the weight of the head and enable smooth movement. The rest of the spine is divided into the thoracic spine (mid-back), lumbar spine (low back) and sacrum/coccyx (tailbone) areas.
Back and neck pain refers to any discomfort as a result of injuries or conditions affecting the muscles, ligaments, nerves and bones of the spine. Thankfully, most types of back and neck pain are not life-threatening and can be alleviated with expert care.
Our team helps diagnose and treat all causes of back and neck pain, including:
● Back or neck pain caused by muscle strain, trauma, spine infections or tumors
● Persistent spine pain
● Spinal nerve injuries: The nerves in your spine can become damaged in several ways, causing spinal stenosis, sciatica or a pinched nerve. Spinal nerve injuries can cause uncomfortable tingling, pain, weakness or numbness.
● Bone spur on the spine: A bone spur (osteophyte) is a bony growth extending from the vertebrae. It can cause pain, pressure and wear on nearby parts of the body.
● Arthritis or degeneration of the spine: Arthritis that occurs in the spine can cause pain, stiffness or swelling in the back, buttocks, or neck. It can limit mobility significantly.
● Herniated disc: In-between the bones (vertebrae) that form the spine are the discs containing a jelly-like substance in the center, which function as shock absorbers for the spine. They help keep the spine flexible and mobile. A herniated disc is a damaged disc that has bulged or broken open. Sometimes this is called a “slipped disc,” or “ruptured disc.” When this material pushes on one or more of the nerves coming from the spine, it is known as “radiculopathy,” sometimes also called a “pinched nerve” or “sciatica”.
● Lumbar spondylosis: This condition is often called “degenerative disc disease.” As the body ages, the discs in the back can degenerate, causing stiffness and pain coming from the neighboring joints of the spine.
● Curvatures of the spine: No one’s spine is perfectly straight, but some people have an abnormal curve to their spine. Sometimes, these curves can be severe enough to cause pain or difficulty breathing. Scoliosis is among the most common types of spine curvature conditions, and can occur in adults, as well as children and adolescents.
● Compression fractures: This type of fracture is a small break in the bones of the spine that occurs because of the spine being compressed or pressed together. This compression can occur as a result of osteoporosis or other diseases that weaken the bones in the spine.
At Weill Cornell Medicine, our team offers the most advanced and comprehensive interventional spine treatments available, in addition to partnerning with physical therapy at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and other affiliates, to improve the functional health of your spine and medications for pain management. Interventional spine treatment options include:
● Epidural steroid injection: This treatment treats spinal nerve injuries. During this procedure, a rehabilitation medicine specialist administers medication (corticosteroid) to the outer part of the spinal canal, the epidural space, as close as possible to the affected nerves. This injection takes about 20 minutes and typically alleviates pain for several months or longer.
● Medial branch block: This injection helps to determine if the facet joint is causing the neck or back pain.
● Radiofrequency ablation: Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment option for lumbar spondylosis or facet arthritis. During this procedure, the physician guides a thin needle to the spinal area. A high-frequency electrical current is carried through the needle, delivering heat. This heat destroys the small nerve branches that are causing pain. This can help alleviate pain for up to a year or more.
● Spinal cord stimulator: This minimally invasive procedure is sometimes referred to as a “pacemaker for pain.” A small device that produces low currents of electrical stimulation is implanted into the spine. This blocks pain signals from traveling to the brain.
● Sacroiliac joint injection: During this minimally invasive procedure, a steroid medication is injected into the joint linking the lower spine to the pelvis (sacroiliac joint).
● Regenerative Medicine procedures for the spine and discs.
Whether you visit us virtually through a video visit or you see us in person, you can be assured that we will deliver the highest standards of care with compassion.
The spine care specialists at the Weill Cornell Department of Rehabilitation Medicine offer patients the highest level of safety and care. As a top-ranked academic medical center, you have access to our extensive network of specialists who provide seamless care throughout your treatment — to promote long-term physical and mental health.