Know Your Options: Nonoperative Management of Spinal Disorders

The USC Spine Center at Keck Medicine of USC is devoted to offering patients appropriate care for their spinal disorders.

Patients can visit multiple clinics around greater Los Angeles to ensure they have easy access to appropriate and individualized spine care. Multiple specialists working in one location provide patients with a rapid evaluation of their condition to begin treatment right away.

We welcome and evaluate patients who are at any stage in their treatment for spinal disorders. Patients don’t need to have a prior MRI to be referred to us. Patients with a prior failed surgery or prior failed injection are welcomed. When necessary, patients can be co-managed with surgical and nonoperative care and transition smoothly between the specialties at the USC Spine Center.

The symptoms and signs:

  • Progressive pain
  • Weakness
  • Progressive weakness

When evaluating patients for a possible spinal disorder, physicians at the USC Spine Center use their expertise to obtain an accurate diagnosis. We realize pain that presents in the spinal area can have different origins, including a neurologic, arthritic or muscular origin, and we perform a full evaluation of non-spinal causes of the pain and dysfunction.

Call for an Appointment
(800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273)

Treatment options

The USC Spine Center considers all available modes of treatment for the nonoperative management of spinal disorders. Spinal pain of an arthritic origin can often be treated successfully with physical therapy and steroid injections. Radicular pain can often be treated successfully with epidural steroid injections and physical therapy. Myofascial pain can often be treated successfully with physical therapy and an injection of local anesthetic in trigger points.

Physicians are well versed in treating patients with a prior failed spine surgery using nonoperative methods, including spinal cord stimulators. Surgery to provide spinal decompression can lead to nerve damage, so physicians at the USC Spine Center will perform nerve conduction studies on each patient to determine if the nerves are functional.

If a patient is a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator, they will undergo a two-phase implantation. In phase one, electrodes are placed around the spine and connected to the stimulator, which is worn for one week. This trial phase allows the surgeons to evaluate any anatomic considerations for the permanent spinal cord stimulation and the patient’s response to electrode placement and stimulation. In phase two, the patient returns to have the permanent leads, the stimulator and the battery implanted. As the tissues heal following surgery, the patient is reevaluated periodically to determine if the stimulation program should be adjusted to provide better pain management.

To complement their clinical expertise, physicians at the USC Spine Center are conducting research into new methods for the nonoperative management of spinal disorders. One area that is of particular interest to our physicians is the use of new injectable materials to treat spinal disorders, including stem cells and platelet-rich plasma.

The mission

The mission of the USC Spine Center is to deliver appropriate spine care to each patient. To achieve this, we tailor the treatment paradigm and pain management paradigm to each patient’s diagnosis. We work diligently to identify those patients who would likely benefit from a particular procedure and minimize the use of unnecessary diagnostic or therapeutic procedures.

Clinicians in the multidisciplinary USC Spine Center educate patients about their spinal conditions to help them understand their body and how they can adapt their current activities to minimize any discomfort. Close collaboration among a team of clinicians ensures that patients receive a thorough assessment and are treated by the appropriate provider. Our team recognizes when the patient could benefit from being evaluated by a spine surgeon.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and have back pain, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting