Top Spine Surgery in NJ

What Is Spine Surgery?

Spine surgery is a procedure that is performed in order to alleviate pain due to spinal disorders. This is done by changing a patient’s anatomy, such as removing or fusing parts of the spine. Spine surgery is only considered after non-surgical treatment options have failed and pain has not subsided. Types of spine surgery range from minimally invasive to complex.

At Princeton Neurological Surgery, we offer excellence in minimally invasive and complex spine surgery to patients in New Jersey. Dr. Lipani is a board certified, fellowship-trained top spine surgery specialist. He most commonly performs spinal fusion surgery, laminectomy, and microdiscectomy. Dr. Lipani also treats patients who require revision spinal surgery and those who are considered too challenging to be treated at other institutions.

Spine Surgery Testimonial

Candidates for Spine Surgery

Spine Surgery | Princeton Neurological Surgery | Hamilton, NJ

It may be comforting to learn that the majority of back pain sufferers do not require spine surgery. Most back pain results from muscle strain or spasm. Other common diagnoses include chronic degenerative arthritic changes that affect the spinal column and intervertebral discs.

Deciding whether to undergo spine surgery can be a big decision for an individual. However, not all spine surgery is elective. If your spinal cord is compromised, urgent spinal surgery may be recommended in an effort to preserve function.

Symptoms That Lead to Spine Surgery

Typical symptoms that may require urgent spinal surgery include:

  • Sudden onset of arm or leg weakness
  • Numbness in the trunk
  • A difficulty with fine hand motor control
  • Gait clumsiness
  • Spastic gait
  • Bowel and/or bladder dysfunction
  • Perianal numbness.
  • Debilitating back pain that does not respond to medication

Spinal Surgery | Princeton Neurological Surgery | Princeton NJIf I Don’t Have Surgery, Can Permanent Damage Occur?

Delaying spine surgery in severe cases may result in irreversible nerve damage. Additionally, non-urgent spinal conditions may develop into urgent conditions that gradually or suddenly compromise neurologic function. In rare cases of spinal stenosis, permanent nerve damage can occur because of the pressure being applied to the nerve roots. If this happens, the patient can develop permanent numbness and/or weakness in the area served by the nerve. This can lead to problems with balance and incontinence.

Common Spine Conditions

There are many spinal conditions that patients can suffer from in which spinal surgery is necessary. The following are some of the most frequently experienced spinal conditions.

How Do I Know Which Spine Surgery Is Best For Me?

There are many options for spine surgery. Dr. Lipani will discuss your condition and the appropriate procedures with you. In some cases, such as when treating stenosis, surgery may not alleviate all of the pain. In every case, except for severe pain and urgent conditions, patients should explore conservative treatments prior to having surgery.

Types of Spine Surgery

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is a procedure performed when the spinal column becomes dangerously unstable and requires stabilization. During surgery, Dr. Lipani joins together two or more vertebrae in the spine so there is no longer movement between them. This is done by placing bone or bone-like material between the vertebrae. In addition, plates, screws, and rods can be added for extra support. After healing, the vertebrae heal together into one unit and any pain from spine movement is now gone.

Spinal Stenosis Surgery

For patients experiencing spinal stenosis, surgery relieves pressure on the spinal cord while also maintaining the integrity of the site. Dr. Lipani performs procedures such as a laminectomy or spinal fusion to return the damaged bone back to its normal state. While spinal fusion joins together vertebra, a laminectomy involves the removal of the lamina, vertebra, and ligaments to make room for nerves.

Herniated Disc Surgery

A herniated disc is a condition that occurs when the disc, located between the bones, or vertebrae of the spine becomes damaged. There are several surgical solutions for patients that have a herniated disc depending on the severity of the condition. These treatments can include arthroplasty, which involves resurfacing the bones, or spinal fusion. Additionally,  patients can undergo a discectomy, removal of a portion of the herniated disc, or laminotomy, partial removal of the lamina. All procedures aim to alleviate pressure from the damaged disc.

Spine Surgery Recovery

Recovery time from spine surgery, as you would expect, depends on what type of surgery you undergo along with the degree of your symptoms before surgery. No matter what surgery, recovery is complicated and involved. Dr. Lipani will discuss what to expect for your particular surgery during your consultation. As a baseline, healing time takes about 6 weeks for herniated disc surgery, 12 weeks for a laminectomy or discectomy, and 6 months for spinal fusion.

With any spine surgery, you’ll be in the hospital for at least 1-3 days. Some patients start physical therapy as soon as 24 hours after surgery, focusing on range-of-motion exercises. It is important that after going home that patients do not lay on the couch for hours. It is better to sit upright, keep your back straight, and avoid twisting the spine. This will need to be your mindset, even when you start driving and return to work. Additionally, any type of lifting is prohibited for at least 6 weeks. Patients will have follow-up appointments with Dr. Lipani to assess the progress of your healing.

“Princeton Neurological Surgery is highly recommended. I received top notch care from the moment I walked into the office. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable. Kathy handled all my insurance pre-certifications and made sure that no aspect was a stress to me. Dr. Lipani is the absolute best. He takes the time to fully explain and answers questions, has a great bedside manner, and saw me every day of my hospital stay after surgery, even on a holiday. I wouldn’t let any other neurosurgeon but Dr. Lipani and his staff treat me. The best in the area.” -Christina S.

Risks of Spine Surgery

Spinal surgery risks depend on the type of surgery. The biggest risk with any type of spine surgery is not being sure the surgery will successfully alleviate your pain. Spinal surgery complications are rare but can include:

  • Nerve root damage
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leak from a dural sac breach
  • Unsuccessful fusion
  • Hardware problems
  • Failing or migrating cages and grafts
  • Instability from removing bone to relieve pressure
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia

Conservative Treatments Before Spine Surgery

We want our potential spine surgery patients to first explore all other avenues before deciding they need surgery. Unless surgical intervention is urgent, Dr. Lipani usually has patients come in for a consultation and then wait for at least six weeks before proceeding with surgery. This allows the exploration of various conservative, non-surgical treatments to see if they can alleviate the pain the patient is experiencing. After all, only around five percent of back and spine problems eventually require surgery. Some conservative treatment options include:

  • Pain medication
  • Heat or ice
  • Manipulation
  • Massage 
  • Exercise 
  • Changing sedentary behavior
  • Epidural steroid injections

Schedule a Consultation

Our top expert spine surgeon, Dr. John Lipani, is capable of providing you with the advice, recommendations, and spine surgery procedures to assist you in living a full and comfortable life again. For more information about Dr. John Lipani or to learn more about our spine surgery procedures, contact one of our New Jersey locations!

Learn More About the Anatomy of the Spine


If you would like more information about our services or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at 609-890-3400.

Hear what our Patients are Saying

I was working construction when I suddenly experienced neck pain that ran down my left arm and into my fingers. I also had numbness and tingling in my left hand. I thought ……Read More »
Richard, 36Cervical Disc Herniation Patient

View All Testimonials


What’s New

Revision Spine Surgery: Can It Be Avoided?

All surgical procedures carry some degree of risk. Due to the complex nature of spinal surgery, associated risks may be compounded compared to surgical procedures ... read more

What is Myelopathy?

Myelopathy | Princeton Neurological Surgery | Princeton NJ
Myelopathy is a spinal condition in which the spinal cord suffers significant compression. Pressure on the spinal cord should not be mistaken for compression on ... read more

Trigeminal Neuralgia May Be the Cause of Facial Pain

Trigeminal Neuralgia | Princeton Neurological Surgery | Princeton NJ
If a gentle touch to the cheek sends shockwaves of pain through the face, there is a problem worth exploring. Such an experience can be ... read more

Ask Dr. Lipani

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.