In most cases, nonoperative treatments provide sufficient relief from neck or back pain to allow patients to carry out daily functions and enjoy favorite activities. Options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, chiropractic care, acupuncture, nerve-blocking cortisone injections and physical therapy (PT), which is available from the orthopedics and sports therapy team at SOS. Nonoperative care is also available from one of SOS’ partners in care, New York Spine & Wellness Center.
“PT is a mainstay of spine care and is quite effective at treating most back problems,” says Richard DiStefano, MD, orthopedic surgeon at SOS. “It’s an advantage to have PT in our practice because it’s easy for physicians and therapists to collaborate to tailor therapy for patients.”
When conservative therapies prove ineffective, surgery may be appropriate. Large operations, such as cervical laminectomy, cervical fusion, cervical laminoplasty, and lumbar laminectomy and fusion, typically require hospitalizations of two or more days, and SOS spine surgeons perform these procedures at St. Joseph’s Health and Crouse Health.
Many spine surgeries do not require a hospital stay, and for these, SOS has a dedicated home: Specialists’ One-Day Surgery Center, located at 5801 East Taft Road in North Syracuse. There, surgeons perform anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, lumbar discectomy, and one-level laminectomy. Another outpatient procedure, sacroiliac joint fusion, may provide relief for individuals with sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Requiring just two small incisions in the buttocks, the procedure allows a spine surgeon to solidify the joint with a cage-like implant.
One of the most common procedures that Dr. DiStefano performs at the Specialists’ One-Day Surgery Center is spinal cord stimulator implantation. Spinal cord stimulation uses implanted electrodes and a small generator to deliver mild, pain-relieving electrical impulses to the cervical or lumbar spine. Candidates include individuals for whom back surgery did not provide relief or who have chronic back or leg pain, degenerative spine changes, reflex dystrophy in the foot or knee, or painful neuropathies in the feet or hands, according to Dr. DiStefano.
“Patients undergo a one-week trial using electrodes placed percutaneously and an external battery pack,” Dr. DiStefano says. “If that’s successful, we permanently implant the electrodes in the spine through a small incision in the upper or lower back. The wires are connected to a generator in the buttocks. Patients can adjust the strength of the electrical signal with a remote.”
The variety of outpatient spine procedures available at the Specialists’ One-Day Surgery Center is indicative of the sweeping nature of spine care at SOS.
“Ours is a comprehensive spine program,” Dr. DiStefano says. “We perform procedures on all parts of the spine in inpatient and outpatient settings, and we also offer a wide range of nonsurgical treatments. Patients get all-encompassing care at SOS.”
Telemedicine Appointments Available
Video visits played a crucial role in allowing Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists to continue caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine appointments through the SOS Virtual Visit App remains an option for initial and follow-up appointments, as appropriate, for patients who wish to see their orthopedic surgeon from the comfort of home. Learn more about virtual visit appointments with our spine doctors.