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Spine Center

Back pain and spine problems can require the combined expertise of clinicians and support specialists from many fields. Our multidisciplinary team approach utilizes the latest technologies and medical breakthroughs to treat patients from the relatively straightforward evaluation and treatment of common conditions like herniated discs, neck pain, and low back pain to complex management strategies for problems like spinal tumors, scoliosis, and fractures. The Medical University of South Carolina is South Carolina's only comprehensive academic medical center. The Spine Center at MUSC Health is changing what's possible in spine care through our ongoing mission to provide excellence in patient care, teaching, and research.

  • Extensive experience with complex surgery revisions, reconstruction, and deformity correction
  • Minimally invasive spine treatments for fractures and tumors of the spine
  • Advanced treatment options for spinal cancers in conjunction with the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Advanced diagnostic testing
  • Access to cutting-edge research and clinical trials

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Spine Treatments Available

While most spine problems can be treated without surgery, we offer an extensive array of advanced surgical and non-surgical options for patients. Please visit our patient education library at the links below to learn more about the treatment options, or call now to schedule an appointment with the MUSC Spine Center.

Surgical Treatments:

  • Endoscopic Surgery
  • SI Joint Fusion
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) including MIS Fusion and MIS Tumor Surgery
  • Cervical (Neck) Fusion:
    • Anterior Cervical Fusion (ACF)
    • Posterior Cervical Fusion (PCF)
  • Thoracic Spine Surgery
  • Lumbar Fusion:
    • Transpsoas/Lateral Interbody Fusion
    • Transforaminal Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
    • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
  • 360° Fusion (Anterior and Posterior)
  • Fusion Alternatives
  • Lumbar Total Disc Replacement (TDR)
  • Cervical Total Disc Replacement (TDR)
  • Dynamic Stabilization
  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)
  • Vertebral Fracture Repair
  • Scoliosis and Kyphosis Surgery
  • Sacroiliac Fusion
  • Spinal Navigation
  • Other Surgical Procedures

Pain management therapies including:

Non-surgical treatments including:

  • Multidisciplinary approached to chronic pain management and non-opioid management
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy
  • Medication
  • Exercise plans
  • Interventional pain management
  • Patient education
  • Cognitive therapies
  • Biofeedback
     

Therapy treatment of the spine encompasses many different aspects.  At MUSC, you have the benefit of one on one expertise provided by your therapist at every visit.  Starting with your initial visit, we will determine a plan of care based upon your symptoms or condition.  Together, we set realistic goals to aid in your return to your prior level of function. 

We use various evidence-based treatment methods such as manual therapy, specific exercise for strengthening and/or stretching of core and lower extremity muscles, postural training and body mechanics training, gait training, and anti-inflammatory modalities to accomplish your goals.  Our most important goal is to educate you in techniques to manage your symptoms independently and thus reduce your chances of recurrence of spinal pain. 

Common Spinal Conditions Treated:

  • Neck, mid back, pelvic, or lower back pain
  • Sacroiliac pain
  • Disc pathology with or without radicular pain (referred leg pain)
  • Pre and post-operative spinal conditions
  • Whiplash
  • Stenosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Spine-related sports or work injuries

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Locations

The MUSC Health Spine Center team sees patients in downtown Charleston, West Ashley, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Murrells Inlet, and Orangeburg. Please see the list below to find a location near you.

Downtown Charleston, SC

Rutledge Tower
135 Rutledge Avenue
Charleston, SC 29425

Hollings Cancer Center
86 Jonathan Lucas Street
Charleston, SC 29425

Mount Pleasant, SC

East Cooper Medical Pavilion
1600 Midtown Avenue, 2nd floor
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Murrells Inlet, SC

MUSC Health Neurosurgery
4367 Riverwood Drive
Murrells Inlet, SC  29576

North Charleston, SC

North Charleston Medical Pavilion
8992 University Boulevard
North Charleston, SC 29406

West Ashley, SC

West Ashley Medical Pavilion
2125 Charlie Hall Boulevard
Charleston, SC 29414

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Our Team

The Spine Center team takes a collaborative approach to ensure patients receive the best care and have the best possible outcomes. Our providers include specialists in spine surgery, neurointervention, neuromodulation, physical medicine, rehabilitation and pain management.

Additional Care Team Members

Gayle Wadford, RN | Spine Center Program Manager

Our multidisciplinary team also includes providers from the following disciplines:

  • Advanced Practice Providers from Neurosurgery and Orthopaedics
  • Neurodiagnostic EMG
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Weight Management
  • Behavioral Health
  • Intraoperative Neuromonitoring

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Patient Education & Testimonials

Learn more about back health and spinal disorders. Take a quiz, read an article, watch a video, or listen to a podcast to learn more.
 

Health Library Articles:

Neck and back wellness

Patient Education Videos:

Lumbar Disk Disease

Lumbar Disk Disease video

  
Spinal Stenosis

Spinal Stenosis video

  
Cervical Disk Rupture

Cervical Disk Rupture video

 
Exercises for a Healthy Back

Exercises for a Healthy Back video

  
Podcasts:

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Take a Quiz:

Anatomy

Patient Videos: MUSC' Spine Center is Changing Lives 

Nancy's Story

Nancy Lamb is energized to overcome a debilitating paralysis caused by a rare disease called Cauda Equina Syndrome. Once a very active woman who enjoyed weekly cookouts and socializing with friends in the neighborhood, she became paralyzed from the waist down. “I had worked and been independent for so many years,” Nancy said. “I was devastated when I just woke up one day and couldn’t walk. When I met with Dr. Varma at MUSC Health, I knew I had a shot at getting better and that I was in great hands.” 

Nancy underwent multiple surgeries at MUSC under the care of Dr. Abhay Varma. “Mrs. Lamb had severely pinched nerves in her lower back that significantly affected her legs, bladder and bowel function,” he said. “She was not able to walk independently and take care of herself. The disease was so extensive that she had to undergo more than one surgery, but eventually she significantly benefited from the treatment and is now able to walk on her own. The pain and numbness in her legs has also significantly improved.” 

Nancy felt very at ease with Dr. Varma and all of her providers at MUSC Health. “Dr. Varma was very compassionate. He never approached my surgery negatively and always made sure I understood everything. He got me walking again! I am so thankful to him and his physician assistant, Patricia Mathias, for always responding so quickly to my questions, and all of the MUSC Health providers who made the process as well as the procedures so comforting to me.”  


Steve's Story

Last year, Steve Dye thought he might lose the ability to walk after a thoracic disk ruptured, putting extreme pressure on his spinal cord. Dye was using a cane to get around when a doctor told him he needed specialized surgery. Dye chose the MUSC Spine Center. 

Steve Dye

Five months later, he was able to rejoin his softball team for a game that had an ending that could have come straight from a movie. “I find myself standing in the softball field all by myself,” Dye wrote in a testimonial to the doctors at the MUSC Health Spine Center. “My team was with me seconds ago, but they have all run off the field.”

Then he heard clapping. It was his fellow softball players. They knew he’d gone from being afraid that he’d end up paralyzed to being able to walk normally again.

“As I fight back tears, I realize the applause is for me,” Dye wrote. “I must pass it on to the doctors, nurses, friends and family who made it possible for me to be standing on that field.”

Dye’s surgeon, Stephen Kalhorn, M.D., said that’s the kind of story that makes him love coming to work each morning. “It reaffirms our cause,” the complex spine surgeon said. “We take on the most challenging of cases, the most advanced spinal issues that come from across South Carolina and the Southeast United States. The reward for this is seeing your patients doing well.”

Dye, whose thoracic spine surgery turned him into a “walking medical miracle,” as his friends call him, wants other people with spine problems to know that there is hope. 

It’s often not a one-stop fix. Dye struggled with back problems for years and is still not able to do everything he’d like to do. “Although I have now ‘mastered’ walking, I still have a goal to be able to run again,” he writes. “Would somebody please tell me I can't do it! It will motivate me to make it happen. I will run again!”

Kalhorn said he should be able to. “I think Mr. Dye is doing great.”
 

Mandy's Story

Working out daily in the gym, playing tennis and beach walking put Mandy McKenzie in an enviable place at 49. “I was feeling healthy and in great shape,” she enthuses.
 
Mandy McKenzie, spine center patientFew in mid-life can boast her vitality, but it all came to a halt suddenly. Working out at the gym, she felt an acute pull. By evening, a sharp pain was coursing down her leg and her lower back throbbed. A few days in, the pain was debilitating.
 
Mandy surrendered and booked an appointment with her primary care doctor, who referred her to Charles Reitman, MD, co-director of MUSC’s Spine Center. Preferring to avoid surgery if possible, Dr. Reitman referred her to Dr. Emily Darr, MD, a pain management specialist.
 
Mandy and Dr. Darr agreed to try injections. “I was grateful Dr. Reitman didn’t push surgery on me,” she recalls. Two days post-injection, she was “blown away” when the surgeon called to check on her. “From a customer service standpoint, that meant a lot,” she says. It also gave her a chance to let him know the pain was still intense.
 
After discussing her options, together they decided to schedule Mandy for a minimally invasive procedure just two days later. In surgery for just over an hour, Mandy’s pain was 80% improved immediately. Within six weeks, she was back in the gym.
 
She credits Dr. Reitman and MUSC for understanding her needs, and responding swiftly. Meanwhile, Dr. Reitman says Mandy was a star patient: “She was motivated, and wanted to return to activity as soon as possible. Once it became clear that surgery was her best option, a minimally invasive procedure allowed her to achieve her goals.”

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Quality Recognition

Beckers Named MUSC as one of the top 100 hospitals in neurosurgery and spine care.


Designated BlueDistinction Center©

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Blue Distinction Centers (BDC) met overall quality measures for patient safety and outcomes, developed with input from the medical community. A Local Blue Plan may require additional criteria for facilities located in its own service area; for details, contact your Local Blue Plan. Blue Distinction Centers+ (BDC+) also met cost measures that address consumers' need for affordable healthcare. Each facility's cost of care is evaluated using data from its Local Blue Plan.

Magnet

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The MUSC Medical Center is a Magnet-recognized hospital. The ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® is viewed around the world as the ultimate seal of quality and confidence. Magnet organizations are recognized for superior nursing processes and quality patient care, which lead to the highest levels of safety, quality, and patient satisfaction.

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