The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics | Spine Center Network
Spine orthopedic clinic

The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics combines the expertise of   four fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeons; a fellowship-trained pediatric scoliosis specialist; a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation specialist who is fellowship-trained in interventional spine care; and four physicians who specialize in nonsurgical treatment of back and neck problems. In addition, the spine center includes on-site nurse practitioners and spine physical therapists working together to provide comprehensive treatment of spinal disorders in adults and children. The clinical team has specialized expertise in the management of spinal pain, disc herniations, stenosis, tumors, trauma and scoliosis. The Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics provides advanced spine care through several offices across Rhode Island including:

  • Middletown, Rhode Island
  • East-Greenwich,  Rhode Island
  • Providence,  Rhode Island
  • Barrington,  Rhode Island
  • Kettle Point,  Rhode Island
  • West Warwick,  Rhode Island
  • East Bay,  Rhode Island
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The Center for Spine Health approach to back and neck pain 

Recognizing the national trend toward a Center of Excellence approach for complex health problems, University Orthopedics created several subspecialty centers targeting various orthopedic problems, including a Joint Replacement Center; the Extremity Care Center and a Sports Medicine Center among others. The Center for Spine Health was created by the spine specialists within the large orthopedic group to improve the care of back and neck pain for those in the Rhode Island area.  

The problem with spine care is that care is highly fragmented. Too many times, the patient receives a treatment recommendation that is biased to the type of physician providing the treatment. Patients, employers and health insurance companies desire and deserve a team of clinicians (non-surgeons, physical therapists and surgeons) working together under one roof. We have installed a spine center approach where patients exhaust their non-surgical options before surgery is considered.

The Center for Spine Health has a commitment to patient education. It produces a 36 page Home Remedy Book that is distributed to all patients along with referral sources. This is also the core component of the spine center's recommended Home Exercise Program. Through this book patients learn the importance of exercise for prevention of recurrent problems, and what symptoms need to be evaluated quickly by a spine specialist.

Many patients, for example, don’t understand the significance of arm or leg weakness caused by a spinal problem. While it may be appropriate to use nonoperative measures and watchfully wait for arm or leg pain to resolve, loss of strength in the extremity may need to be treated more quickly and aggressively. In some cases, delaying treatment for a serious neurologic deficit may result in permanent loss of strength and/or sensation.

University Orthopedics also invested in a content-rich Internet presence to help patients understand their specific problem. There is information on spinal conditions and treatments, an anatomy library, an exercise library, symptom charts and a description of home remedies. This Internet presence represents a virtual encyclopedia on spine care.

Advanced surgical techniques

spine surgeon rhode island, spine center rhode islandIf and when spine surgery becomes necessary, the surgeons at University Orthopedics are trained in the latest minimally invasive techniques. In this type of surgery, smaller incisions are used with less disruption of muscle and soft tissue. These less invasive procedures usually enable a patient to be discharged sooner and recover more quickly with less pain when compared to traditional procedures.

For patients with cervical degenerative disc disease, spine surgeons at the Center for Spine Health at University Orthopedics also perform artificial disc replacement surgery in select cases. The artificial disc is one of the most significant advances in the field of spine. The mechanical disc replicates the function of the normal healthy disc.

Spine Navigation and 3D Imaging 

spine navigation technology for spine surgery in rhode island, 3d imaging used by spine surgeons during surgery
Image below shows pedicle screw planning. 
Image used courtesy Stryker® Corporation. 
All rights reserved.

Most people who have watched a 3D movie on a big screen, will agree that it is a pretty cool technology. When it comes to 3D imaging for spine navigation to asist with complex spine surgeries, physicians and patients would both agree that this technology is a welcome addition to the operating room as well. 

Dr. Mark Palumbo, Dr. Craig Eberson and Dr. Phillip Lucas at the Center for Spine Health now use the power of navigation technology for spine surgery. The Spine Navigation System places the spine surgeons at the forefront of computer assisted surgery for spine in the nation.


The Spine Program at University Orthopedics


As a free community service, this Spine Center of Excellence mails out Home Remedy Books on a limited basis to residents in the region. Home remedy books include information about the spine center, instruction on how to use the exercise book, various exercises to help alleviate back and neck pain, and other home remedies.



For those back and neck pain sufferers who have exhausted nonsurgical treatment options, spine surgery may be the next step in resolving a spine problem. Because spine surgery is a serious decision, it is a good idea to obtain a second opinion from a board-certified and fellowship-trained spine surgeon before undergoing surgery.