Spine center in Savannah, Georgia

The spine is crucial to key movements in our daily lives. Whether we are moving, bending, lifting, working or playing, our spine makes it possible. If the spine becomes injured, it can have a significant effect on our quality of life.

Memorial Health Spine Center in Savannah, Georgia, is staffed by spine doctors and surgeons who are committed to restoring patients' spine health. The team offers surgical and non-surgical treatment options to care for patients with all types of spinal conditions.

To schedule an appointment or speak with a spine specialist, please call the Memorial Health Spine Center at (912) 350-2646.

Comprehensive spine care

If a patient's back or neck pain has become severe enough to limit their quality of life and prevent them from participating in everyday activities, it is time to seek orthopedic treatment. Our expert spine doctors provide non-surgical and surgical treatment options tailored to each patient's needs.

Spinal cord injury program

Our spine clinic offers a dedicated outpatient spinal cord injury program. The program provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment approach that addresses patients medical, physical and psychological needs.

The team at the spine center provides education and training to meet the needs of our patients' families and caretakers. A spine expert can also recommend modifications for home and work areas to make these places more accessible.

The spinal cord injury program is especially beneficial for patients with:

  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Lou Gehrig's disease, also referred to as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Non-traumatic spinal cord injury, such as a spinal cord infarction or aneurysm
  • Post-polio syndrome
  • Spinal tumor
  • Traumatic spinal cord injury

Patients participating in the program benefit from a range of spinal injury treatment options, including:

  • Family conferences, involvement and counseling
  • Home assessments, as needed, to recommend adaptive equipment and placement of ramps and railings
  • Home exercise program
  • Independent living skills training
  • Physical therapy for improving strength, endurance and mobility
  • Referral to driving therapy program for evaluation and re-training
  • Referral to vocational rehabilitation services
  • Retraining in cooking, cleaning and housekeeping
  • Strengthening and conditioning exercises in a pool
  • Training to overcome or compensate for speech, language and/or cognitive difficulties
  • Treatment for swallowing disorders

Dedicated spinal cord injury team

The spinal cord injury team is led by a spine doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Spine specialists work closely with patients and their families to develop plans that help them return to active and productive lives.

Non-surgical spine treatments

Not every spine condition requires surgery. Only about 10 to 15 percent of people experiencing back and neck problems are candidates for spine surgery. Many people are able to find successful relief from their pain through non-surgical treatments.

To treat pain, the first step is to identify what is generating the pain. Bones, joints, muscles, discs and nerves can all cause chronic pain. Once the source is identified, the spine team partners with pain management experts to determine the best treatment.

Non-surgical treatments may include:

  • Lumbar discography—This is used to treat persistent low back pain and sometimes to prepare for upcoming back surgery. The procedure uses X-rays to gain a clear image of the inner workings of each disc in the lower spine.
  • Peripheral joint injection—These injections are given in the hip to identify if pain is originating from the hip or the back.
  • Peripheral nerve block—These injections are given to control pain that is coming from a nerve.
  • Spinal cord stimulator—This implanted device sends electrical impulses to the nerves in order to interrupt pain signals, preventing them from reaching the brain.
  • Spinal injection—These may include diagnostic injections, used to locate the pain generator and diagnose the problem. We also offer trigger point injections to treat extremely tight, sensitive muscles when other treatment methods haven't been effective.
  • Spinal joint block—These injections are given to block pain signals that occur in specific locations. We perform several types of injections, including: epidural steroid injections, medial branch blocks, sacroiliac (SI) joint injections, facet injections and lumbar sympathetic blocks.

Many patients also find relief from back pain with massage therapy and body movement therapies, such as tai chi or yoga.

Spine surgery

There are a number of reasons that spine surgery may be necessary, such as an injury or a spinal deformity. Our spine surgeons perform a range of spine procedures, including:

  • Open discectomy—This procedure removes all parts of a damaged spinal disc to relieve pressure being put on the spine and nerves.
  • Microdiscectomy—This procedure takes a minimally invasive approach to a discectomy and allows the surgeon to use an endoscope and specialized surgical instruments to remove the disc with smaller incisions.
  • Disc replacement—This procedure replaces a damaged disc with an artificial version. The new disc restores the disc height and movement between the vertebrae.
  • Laminectomy—This procedure removes all or part of the bone around the spinal cord to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Kyphoplasty—This procedure recreates bone height by using a specialized type of X-ray technology, called a fluoroscope. The fluoroscope is used to insert a balloon into a fractured vertebra, which is then inflated and cemented to stabilize the fracture.
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint fusion—This procedure is minimally invasive and stabilizes and fuses the SI joint. Small titanium implants are inserted across the joint to maximize post-surgical stability and weight-bearing capacity.

Surgeons have access to minimally invasive and robotic surgical techniques when possible to offer patients a faster recovery time and decreased risk for surgical complications.

Multidisciplinary surgical team

For certain spinal conditions, surgery is the most effective, long-term treatment option. The spine surgeons at Memorial Health ensure every patient undergoing spine surgery has a clear understanding of the surgical process prior to their procedure. Patients have access to pre-surgical classes to prepare for surgery and meet the interdisciplinary care team, which includes:

  • Care coordinator
  • Case managers
  • Dietitians
  • Pharmacists
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Specially trained nurses
  • Surgical team
To learn more about our pre-surgical classes, please call (912) 350-0186. Classes are held every Monday at 2:00 pm and every Wednesday and Friday at 10:00 am.

What to expect from spine surgery

The surgical team at the spine center is here to make sure every patient's surgical experience is as comfortable as possible.

Prior to surgery

Before surgery, patients are asked to attend a pre-surgical education course with a family member or caregiver. This class prepares patients for surgery, introduces them to the spine team and provides an opportunity to ask questions.

Arrival and check-in

Patients coming to the hospital for surgery should enter through the Day Surgery entrance. This entrance offers free valet parking. Patients are also welcome to park in Parking Deck B. Upon arrival, a member of the spine team will gather contact information and walk patients through the check-in process.

During surgery

Patients are first taken to the pre-anesthesia care unit where simple tests are performed and surgical preparation takes place. Patients will be asked to remove their clothing and change into a surgical gown. Personal belongings will be given to friends and/or family in the waiting area.

Patients are then taken to the surgical suite and given anesthesia. Surgery may last one to three hours, depending on the procedure. Family members are able to track their loved one's progress on an electronic patient tracking screen in the waiting area.

Waking up after surgery

Patients will wake up after surgery in the post-anesthesia care unit. They will spend approximately one to two hours here for their initial recovery. Nurses provide constant monitoring to make sure there are no problems, such as severe discomfort. Once patients are fully awake, they are transferred to the dedicated spine unit, located within the surgical care unit on the first floor of the hospital.

Post-surgical recovery and going home

After surgery, patients are cared for in the dedicated spine surgery unit, monitored by specially trained nurses. Spine specialists assist with pain management following surgery and encourage patients to move around, eat and use the restroom, as needed. All of these things will aid the body on its road to recovery.

The length of a hospital stay is dependent upon the type of surgery performed. Many patients are able to return home within 24 hours. If a longer stay is needed, patients will be notified by their physician and informed about an approximate length of stay.

A spine surgery coordinator will visit after surgery and provide educational information. They will also be available to answer any questions about recovery and going home.

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