Neck and Back Surgery and Other Treatments for Back and Neck Pain

Surgery or other nonsurgical treatments of the back and neck could be needed for multiple reasons including trauma, back or neck pain, spinal disorders, infections, failure of previous surgeries, deformity or tumors.

Golfers teeing off with no neck or back pain thanks to expert treatment | Muir Orthopaedic Specialists | Walnut Creek, CA

The spine, also known as the back and neck, is a structure made up of bones, muscles, nerves, tendons and ligaments. The small bones in the spine are called vertebrae. The spine houses the spinal cord, which relays brain messages that control all body parts.

Muir Orthopaedic Specialists takes a multi-faceted approach to back and neck pain, conditions and treatments. We offer a range of treatments and always look to nonsurgical options first. But when patients need surgery, they can be confident that our orthopedic spine surgeons are board certified, highly trained, experienced and have undergone residency, fellowship and continuing education focusing on the neck and back.

Comprehensive spine center

Muir Orthopaedic Specialists is home to a state-of-the-art spinal care and pain management treatment center. Our specialists provide diagnostic testing, surgical services, physical therapy and physiatry, as well as pain psychology and management options.

Common problems we treat that cause back and neck pain

Learn more about back pain

Nonsurgical orthopedic treatments for neck and back pain

Treatments for neck or back pain vary depending on the cause and symptoms. Pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs can be a great first step to ease mild pain and inflammation. Heat and ice can also be helpful and is best used when alternating the two temperatures.

The following are various treatment options to consider with your orthopedic specialist.

Chiropractic manipulation

A doctor may recommend manual manipulation by a chiropractor. This can help relieve spinal pain by reducing pressure on sensitive structures, improve blood flow, increase flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can help patients exercise weak points in the spine and regain strength that may have been lost. This option can be used as an initial treatment or as a post-surgery treatment to help regain strength, flexibility and movement. Each program will be tailored to an individual’s condition and pain level.


Another common treatment we consider prior to surgery is injections. We offer a range of injections to reduce or eliminate spine pain. These are temporary pain relievers and have yet to show permanent relief.

  • Steroid injections. The specific steroid injections we offer are epidural steroid injections and sacroiliac joint injections.
  • Medial branch blocks. This anesthetic injection is primarily used to diagnose the cause of the pain but can also be used as a short-term treatment.
  • Medial branch radio frequency ablation. This treatment uses heat that is placed on the spine through a needle to disrupt the nerve’s ability to send pain signals to the brain.

Learn more about injections for spine pain

Neck and back surgery options

If the patient’s back or neck symptoms do not respond to one of the nonsurgical treatments listed above or if the extent of the injuries is severe, a doctor may recommend surgery. These procedures can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, such as decompression and fusion procedures, or by using open techniques.

Below is a list of our most common back and neck surgeries.


Microdiscectomies, also known as microdecompression, is a common minimally invasive spine surgery whose goal is to take pressure off the nerves to relieve back pain and leg pain. This treatment used to be performed as an open surgery and was called a discectomy.

Spinal fusion (arthrodesis)

A spinal fusion is a surgery that fuses two or more vertebrae to eliminate painful motion or restore stability to the spine. This surgery takes several hours. These procedures can be done from the front or back part of the spine. In principle, bone graft from the pelvic bone or a bone bank is used to make a bridge between the vertebrae, which will allow new bone to grow. Screws and rods or plates hold the segment in place until the fusion heals.

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIS) and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) are common fusion procedures in our practice.

Artificial disc replacement

Artificial disc replacement is a procedure to remove and replace a degenerating spinal disc with an implant in order to help the spine retain its natural flexibility. These are performed in the cervical and lumbar spine.

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty surgeries are frequently done together. This is also called a balloon vertebroplasty. A kyphoplasty uses a balloon that is inflated in the spine to make room between the vertebrae. Then the vertebroplasty part of the procedure injects a cement mixture into the bone to give it strength. This is a common treatment for vertebral compression fractures.

Scoliosis treatment, adult and pediatric

At times spinal surgery is needed for severe or rapidly worsening scoliosis. Surgery for scoliosis includes inserting two metal rods with screws and hooks to hold the spine in place until the bone heals together.

Our center specializes in these complex procedures. A multidisciplinary approach is taken to the deformities. Patient optimization and pre-operative detailed planning are key to a successful outcome.

Tumor removal

If a tumor can be removed with minimal risk of nerve damage, the doctor may recommend surgery. New technology and techniques have expanded the number of tumors that can be removed that were once considered inoperable.


A laminectomy surgery removes the laminae (the thin bony plate) in the vertebra to increase space within the spinal canal and relieve pressure.

Cervical laminoplasty

A laminoplasty is a spinal canal expansive procedure which retains the outer covering of the spinal canal. This elegant procedure is performed most commonly for multiple level cervical stenosis in the neck.


A laminotomy removes a portion of the lamina (vertebrae arch) that covers the spinal canal. This removes less bone than a laminectomy but also decompresses the neural elements to relieve pressure.


A foraminotomy removes the bone or tissue in the neuroforamen, or the passageway, where the nerve roots branch off the spinal cord and exit the spinal column.

Risks of surgery

As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with spinal surgeries. Prior to surgery, a Muir Orthopaedic Specialists surgeon will go over the specific risks related to your surgery.

Possible risks of spinal surgery include infection, complications from anesthesia, nerve damage, bleeding and stiffness.

Meet our spine specialists

Dr. Abid Qureshi, Muir Orthopaedic Specialists

Abid Qureshi, M.D.

Clinical Interest:

Spinal Surgery & Orthopedic Trauma Surgery
Dr. David Nelles | Muir Orthopaedic Specialists

David Nelles, M.D.

Clinical Interest:

Spine Surgery, Spinal Disorders, Neck & Back Conditions
Dr. Steven Lee, Muir Orthopaedic Specialists

Steven Lee, M.D.

Clinical Interest:

Spine Surgery, Spinal Disorders & Treatment of Neck & Back Conditions
Dr. Michael Chang, Muir Orthopaedic Specialists

Michael Chang, D.O.

Clinical Interest:

Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation, Spine & Musculoskeletal System, Pain Management & Physiatry
Dr. Joseph Narloch, Muir Orthopaedic Specialists

Joseph Narloch, M.D.

Clinical Interest:

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Electrodiagnostic Medicine