Spine FAQ's

Below are commonly asked questions about Northside's Spine Center. To view the answer to any of the questions, click on the question to jump to the answer. 

What does the Spine Center do?

The Northside Hospital Spine Center was created to allow patients to receive spine care without having to go directly to the surgeon. We will sit down with you and discuss your condition in detail (a "history"). Next, we will perform a comprehensive physical examination of your spine and recommend appropriate diagnostic studies and treatment options. Only about 10% of our patients require surgical intervention, while approximately 1/3 of our patients require pain interventions such as injections.


What conditions does the Spine Center treat?

We treat new onset symptoms and undiagnosed spine complaints. We may also provide additional opinions on spine care that has been recommended.

Common conditions seen in the Spine Center


What do I need to bring for my initial consultation?

Any recent MRI, CT or X-rays that have been done. Please bring the CD or actual films with you. Any medical records that you can easily obtain that list prior spine surgeries, injections, etc. And, of course, please bring your insurance card and photo identification.


If I come to the Spine Center, will I have an MRI?

An MRI is performed only if necessary. An MRI is a test. It is very good at viewing nerves, discs, joints and bones of the spine. An MRI is recommended only after a history and physical examination and as appropriate.


Can I have an MRI if I'm pregnant?

Only if absolutely necessary, typically not. No radiation is involved, but still not generally recommended. If a condition is life- or limb-threatening, MRI may be performed.


Can I have a CT scan if I'm pregnant?

Because radiation is involved, almost always, no.


If I'm evaluated by a surgeon, does that mean I'm going to have surgery?

No, the surgeon will see you in consultation to discuss options that may include surgery.


Do you ever prescribe steroids at the Spine Center?

We use multiple therapeutic modalities that may include oral or injectable steroids. Steroids may be taken by mouth, injected into a muscle or injected into a joint or epidural space (around the nerves).


How long will I have relief after an epidural injection?

Everyone is different. Some people get complete relief with one injection. Others require 2 or 3 injections to achieve full benefit. Some patients receive very little benefit and may require surgical intervention for their condition.


What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy is functional assessment of your condition followed by direct intervention. The intervention may include stretching or strengthening exercises, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or traction. Therapists are highly trained to provide detailed interventions for your specific condition.


How does traction work?

Traction can be applied to the cervical spine (neck) or lumbar spine. Both approaches "pull" on the spine to give the nerves more room to function.


Are neck and back problems part of the normal aging process?

Spine degeneration is part of the normal aging process, but pain is not. Pain can come from arthritis of the spine. Pain can also come from compression of the nerves by discs or bone spurs.


What are the consequences if I delay surgery?

If there is significant pressure on the nerves or spinal cord, delaying surgery can result in permanent loss of function. Sometimes, even with severe pressure on the nerves, conservative options may be tried first.


Is spine surgery successful?

Spine surgery is very successful if done for the right reasons. You should try all conservative measures available before considering surgery. This is, of course, unless there is severe compromise or pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. There are many types of spine surgery, depending on the condition being treated. If you need surgery, we will recommend the most minimally invasive surgery for your condition.


What are the possible complications of spine surgery?

Spine surgery is very safe. The risk of complications is extremely small. Complications can occur with any medical procedure. Because there are many types of spine surgery, it's best to speak to the surgeon regarding the risk of complication for your specific surgery.



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Appointments: (404) 459-1809
Fax- (404) 459-1840
Patients will be seen in 24-48 hours whenever possible 

Medical Tower at Northside-Atlanta

5670 Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd.
Suite 950
Atlanta, GA 30342

Northside Hospital - Forsyth

Medical Office Building
1100 Northside-Forsyth Dr.
Suite 400
Cumming, GA 30041

Northside Hospital - Cherokee

New Location- call (404) 459-1838 for directions
120 Oakside Ct.
Canton GA 30114


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