Schedule: 614-293-2225

The Comprehensive Spine Center at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has multiple specialists, diagnostic tools and treatment options in one center to care for your spine.

Spine Conditions

Spine Conditions

Spine Conditions

Lumbar and Thoracic Instability We offer multiple treatment options for instability of the spine.

For instability of the spine, a general term for abnormal movement between vertebrae, we can explore nonoperative options, such as physical therapy and medication, as well as surgery when needed.

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Spinal Surgery Complications Our team works together with you to formulate an individualized treatment plan.

If you’re experiencing ongoing pain from an unsuccessful surgery for back pain, or a “failed spinal surgery,” we can explore newer treatment options. The cause of failed spinal surgery may include:

  • Post-surgical complications
  • Recurrence of original cause
  • Nerve root compression or irritation
  • Scar tissue
  • Nerve damage or abnormal regeneration
  • Improper, inadequate or incomplete rehabilitation

Thoracic Spinal Stenosis We determine the source of your pain, accurately diagnose the severity of your condition and choose the least-invasive treatment.

After diagnosing you with a physical exam and imaging tests, we can offer medication, physical therapy, braces and/or surgery to relieve pressure and pain from thoracic spinal stenosis, a rare degenerative condition in which the spinal canal is narrowed in the upper middle back.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

Our physicians recognize and understand the pain characteristics of back conditions. This helps us develop an effective, personalized treatment plan for you. Your treatment most likely will include several options, and you will be the primary decision-maker.

At Ohio State, we exhaust all nonsurgical options first before recommending a more invasive procedure. 

Nonsurgical Treatments

One of Ohio State’s strengths is our physical therapy program, with therapists who specialize in complex, degenerative spine conditions. Following an examination of posture, back mobility, strength and flexibility, our physical therapists customize a plan for you, which takes into account any impairments or functional limitations you have. Typically, you will work one on one with a therapist on pain-relieving movement strategies and on improvements in strength and flexibility.

Additional nonsurgical treatments include: 

  • Education on back care and recommendations for specific needs (such as job demands, recreational activities, home activities)
  • Real-time ultrasound imaging (RUSI) of movement in the spine area to re-train the deep stabilizing musculature of your spine (a highly researched, evidence-based intervention)
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Weight loss guidance emphasizing healthier eating and exercise to ease pressure on the spine
  • Pilates, yoga and aquatic therapy to strengthen back muscles
  • Acupuncture (provided at the Comprehensive Spine Center) or dry needling for pain control through Ohio State’s Center for Integrative Medicine
  • Biofeedback and behavior modification

Advanced Nonsurgical Options

When conservative treatments have been unsuccessful, we can offer:

  • Spinal injections, such as epidurals or nerve blocks, directed toward areas where pain originates, with the aim of eliminating or relieving pain.
  • Spine orthobiologics, also known as stem cell therapy, activates the body’s natural healing process through injections of the body’s own healthy cells into the injured area to stimulate tissue regeneration and natural healing.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (also called radiofrequency neurotomy) to help with chronic pain that cannot be resolved with the short-term relief provided by nerve blocks and spinal injections. Information from these treatments, however, helps us pinpoint where the pain originates along the spine. During an ablation procedure, our spine specialists are guided by X-rays to visualize the spinal joint causing pain. We use a probe to deliver heat generated by radio waves to disable nerves that are causing pain and to interfere with their ability to transmit pain signals. The procedure offers you long-term pain relief and does not harm nerves that control movement or sensation in the legs.
  • Spinal cord stimulation in the Center for Neuromodulation provides an option when surgery is not indicated or desired. A device similar to a pacemaker, usually implanted under the skin in your abdomen or upper buttock, sends mild electrical impulses. You use a transmitter that controls the signal, which changes pain messages before they reach the brain. Instead of pain, you feel a soothing, tingling sensation.

Surgical Treatments

When other treatment options have failed, surgery can benefit you under certain circumstances:

  • Lumbar discectomy: the surgical removal of low back herniated disc, to relieve pressure and pain.
  • Osteotomy (including triplane osteotomy): a surgical realignment procedure, to correct spinal deformity and curvature.
  • Spinal stenosis surgery: relieves pressure on spinal cord or nerve roots as an option for patients who do not respond to nonoperative treatments.
  • Total disc arthroplasty of the cervical spine: involves the replacement of a degenerated disc with an artificial disc, to provide an alternative to traditional fusion surgery.



Our diagnostic process includes a physical examination and neurologic exam, which may include the use of lights or reflex hammers to assess motor, sensory and reflex skills.

Your doctor may order further testing, if necessary, including additional X-rays, MRI, CT scan, EMG, myelogram and/or bone density. These imaging reports give your physician detailed images of any deterioration or abnormality in your bones or soft tissues.

Available testing includes:

  • EMG: Tiny electrodes to send signals to your muscles, and it records their response. This test helps your doctor evaluate the health of your muscles and nerve cells. 
  • Myelogram: Contrast dye further highlights areas of concern. 
  • Bone density test: This painless scan that measures calcium and minerals in your bone to detect for osteoporosis.

Why Choose OSU

Why choose Ohio State’s Comprehensive Spine Center for your treatment

  • You will have the insights and expertise of an entire clinical team available to diagnose the source of your pain and help you achieve the highest level of function possible with the least-invasive treatment.
  • If you need surgery, our fellowship-trained surgeons perform more complex spine surgeries than any other medical center in central Ohio.
  • Our physical therapists specialize in spine disorders and injuries to restore you to maximum function. 
  • We can predict whether a job or activity could injure your spine using our biomechanical testing (studying the action of external and internal forces on the body). We’re also developing unique programs to analyze how activities and movements can put stress on the spine.
  • You have the opportunity to participate in groundbreaking research and clinical trials through our associations with national and international spine organizations.
  • Through Ohio State’s Comprehensive Spine Center registry, we track our patients’ outcomes, including physical function and quality of life, and compare these to national and international results to help us select the most effective treatment methods.

Patient Stories

Patient Stories

Getting her life back after spine surgery

Before Beth had surgery to correct her degenerative disc disease, her days revolved around controlling her back pain. Since having artificial disc replacement surgery with Francis Farhadi, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon specializing in spine disorders, Beth's days are focused on what she enjoys, like being active and spending time with her family.

Back to normal

For years, Dick suffered from severe pain in his back and legs. He decided to visit Safdar Khan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Ohio State. Dr. Khan diagnosed him with severe spinal stenosis and recommended surgery to reduce his pain. Today, Dick is pain-free and back to normal.

Sarah's experience with spinal fusion

Until she met Safdar Khan, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Ohio State, Sarah struggled with severe back pain. She could no longer garden, travel or even walk her dog. Sarah had spinal stenosis. She underwent spinal fusion surgery with Dr. Khan. Now Sarah is pain-free, active and back to doing the things she loves.

Andrew's back to pain-free

Andrew's degenerative spine disorder caused pinched nerves and severe back pain. Non-surgical treatments did not relieve his pain, so he had a minimally-invasive surgical procedure with Francis Farhadi, MD, PhD, a spine neurosurgeon at Ohio State, to relieve pressure. Now Andrew’s back to pain-free .

Pam's journey with scoliosis

Born with scoliosis, Pam's spinal deformity became so debilitating, she could hardly move. She found herself walking bent over with difficulty breathing. Finally, Pam visited Stephanus Viljoen, MD, a spine neurosurgeon at Ohio State, who performed a surgical procedure to straighten her spine. Today, Pam is finally walking tall and pain-free.

Cindy's story of spinal stenosis

For years Cindy suffered from severe back pain. She was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which causes pressure on the nerves of the spine.Once she visited Stephanus Viljoen, MD, a neurosurgeon specializing in spine disorders at Ohio State, Cindy has new lease on life.

Susan shares her experience

Susan had severe osteoarthritis and scoliosis; her spinal deformity was making it difficult to breathe and stand up straight. Following years of back pain and multiple surgeries, Susan visited Francis Farhadi, MD, PhD, a spine neurosurgeon at Ohio State. He performed a surgical procedure to re-align her spine. Now Susan is living her life to the fullest.

Ruth's back to pain-free

Before Ruth visited the Comprehensive Spine Center at Ohio State, she had difficulty walking and her days were spent in pain. Francis Farhadi, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon specializing in spine disorders, performed a surgery procedure to correct her spine and relieve pressure. Now, she's found relief and is actively enjoying her life again.

Our Spine Providers

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