I have been a Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon since February 1999 performing over 3000 spinal operations over twenty years for a range of conditions including spinal trauma, infection and degenerative disc disease and disc prolapse. In recent years I have been performing less surgery and focusing more on assessment and investigation of patients with spinal pain and functional restoration and rehabilitation.
My major area of interest currently is the non-surgical management of spinal pain in benign conditions using functional re-habilitation, exercise, acupuncture and cognitive behavioural therapy. I have a core network of specialists including physiotherapists, pilates instructors, acupuncturists and cognitive behavioral therapists who can assist in the multidisciplinary approach in the management of non-specific spinal pain.
Since leaving the NHS in December 2014 I have stopped performing complex spinal surgery and spinal instrumentation, but I continue to perform spinal injections, lumbar discectomy and decompression for patients with sciatica. I usually perform one hundred lumbar discectomies and decompressions a year.
I have a close working relationship with my NHS and Private colleagues, both in Belfast and London and the small number of patients who require spinal procedures such as cervical surgery or spinal fusion can have this performed in the Ulster Clinic in Belfast by my consultant colleague, Mr Eugene Verzin, who previously was my registrar and trained with me in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Patients requiring more complex spinal procedures including scoliosis surgery, anterior spinal surgery or lumbar or cervical disc replacement can be referred to my colleagues in the Wellington Hospital in London which has high dependency and intensive care facilities not available in any of the private hospitals in Northern Ireland.
Below I have outlined my personal thoughts on spinal pain and degenerative spinal conditions. This is not meant to be comprehensive but is a reflection of my experience and interpretation of the spinal literature.