Doctors Specializing in Spine Surgery and Scoliosis

John Toohey, M.D.(UT Medicine) Click for information

William H. Edwards Jr., M.D. (UT Medicine) Click for information

Christopher Chaput, M.D. (UT Medicine)

All Orthopaedic Clinic Locations

MARC - UT Health San Antonio Click for information

Audie L. Murphy Memorial Verterans Hospital (VA) Click for information

University Health Systems Trauma Clinic Click for information

Texas Diabetes Institute Click for information

Mays Cancer Center at UT Health  Click for information

Ruthe B. Cowl Rehabilitation Center, Laredo, TX  Click for information

Areas of Specialization - Spine surgery and scoliosis

Our approach to treating patients


Treatment for Back and Spine Disorders

Back pain and spinal disorders can be debilitating. Whether you are experiencing a simple injury or a herniated disc, congenital spinal deformities or spinal tumor, the Orthopaedic spine doctors from the UT Health Science Center can help get you back to a healthy, pain-free life.

We diagnose and coordinate personalized treatment plans for people with back pain, bone and muscle conditions, and spinal disorders.  A lot of back pain can be treated non-surgically.  If surgery is necessary you’ll be in good hands. The Orthopaedic doctors from UT Health San Antonio are part of a Level I Trauma Center at University Hospital (University Hospital which is home to the lead Level I Trauma Center for a 22-county region of South/Central Texas, an area that is geographically larger than 17 states in the U.S.)  Our orthopedic and neurosurgeons perform more than 800 spinal procedures each year. As a result, we can offer you more treatment options to improve your quality of life. 

Our quality assurance and safety measures ensure we provide the highest level of care to our patients. UT Health San Antonio orthopaedic surgeons working at UT Health Medical Arts & Research Center and University Hospital will provide the expert and compassionate care you expect from one of the nation’s top medical centers. 

Scoliosis Image


Spine Conditions and Treatments

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for health care visits. Fortunately, most back pain responds to conservative treatment.

For conditions that require surgery, UT Health San Antonio patients benefit from the experience of surgeons who perform thousands of procedures each year. The skilled surgeons at the UT Health San Antonio specialize in minimally invasive spinal surgery for the treatment of disc disease, tumors, spinal stenosis, or fracture.

Our patients come from all areas of Texas and even from around the world in order to experience the quality of medicine that UT Health San Antonio doctors deliver.  No matter your condition, your injury or condition will be approached with state-of-the-art medicine.


Tests and Diagnosis

Imaging Tests

Other tests which may help your doctor confirm your diagnosis include:

  • X-rays.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans.
  • Bone scan.
  • Bone density test.

Physical Therapist Sheri Huene treats back injury patient

Treatment Options

Nonsurgical Treatment

Medications.  Several medications may be used to help relieve your pain.

  • Aspirin or acetaminophen can relieve pain with few side effects.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling.
  • Narcotic pain medications, such as codeine or morphine, may help.
  • Steroids, taken either orally or injected into your spine, deliver a high dose of anti-inflammatory medicine.

Physical medicine. Low back pain can be disabling. Medications and therapeutic treatments combined often relieve pain enough for you to do all the things you want to do.

  • Physical therapy
  • Braces
  • Manipulation therapy
  • Traction
  • Other exercise-based programs

Surgical Treatment

Surgery for low back pain should only be considered when nonsurgical treatment options have been tried and have failed. It is best to try nonsurgical options for 6 months to a year before considering surgery. In addition, surgery should only be considered if you doctor can pinpoint the source of your pain. Some types of chronic low back pain simply can not be treated with surgery.

Spinal Fusion - This is essentially a "welding" process. The basic idea is to fuse together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone. 

Disc Replacement - This procedure involves removing the disk and replacing it with artificial parts, similar to replacements of the hip or knee. The goal of disk replacement is to allow the spinal segment to keep some flexibility and maintain more normal motion. 


Having a healthy lifestyle is a good start.  It may not be possible to prevent all lower back pain. We cannot avoid the normal wear and tear on our spines that goes along with aging. There are things we can do to lessen the impact of low back problems. 

  • Exercise - Combine aerobic exercise, like walking or swimming, with specific exercises to keep the muscles in your back and abdomen strong and flexible.
  • Proper Lifting - Be sure to lift heavy items with your legs, not your back. Do not bend over to pick something up. Keep your back straight and bend at your knees.
  • Weight - Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts added stress on your lower back.
  • Avoid Smoking - Both the smoke and the nicotine cause your spine to age faster than normal.
  • Proper Posture - Good posture is important for avoiding future problems. A therapist can teach you how to safely stand, sit, and lift.

Regardless of your age or symptoms, if your back pain does not get better within a few weeks, or is associated with chills, fever, or unexpected weight loss, you should contact your doctor.

The following is a list of conditions we treat:

  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Basilar invagination (cranial settling)
  • Cervical and lumbar herniated discs
  • Chordoma
  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD) and other degenerative conditions
  • Facet joint osteoarthritis
  • Kyphosis
  • Low back pain
  • Myelopathy
  • Neck pain
  • Platybasia
  • Primary and metastatic spinal column (bony) tumors
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Spinal cord tumors
  • Spinal dysraphism
  • Spinal fractures
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylosis
  • Thoracic discs


The following is a list of treatments we offer:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion
  • Cervical and lumbar disc replacement
  • Cervical foraminotomy
  • Complex spinal reconstruction
  • Comprehensive physical therapy programs
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Facet injections
  • Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty
  • Lumbar microdiscectomy
  • Minimally invasive spine surgery
  • Nerve blocks
  • Pain pumps
  • Spinal cord stimulators
  • Spinal deformity correction
  • Spinal fusion
  • Spinal radiosurgery


Orthopaedic Spine

Dr. John Toohey, MD

John Toohey, MD

Dr. Christopher Chaput, MD

Christopher Chaput, MD

Dr.William Edwards, MD

William Edwards, MD

Denise Norton, MD

Denise Norton, MD






Material and links provided by UT Health San Antonio are for informational purposes only. Health information provided is not meant to take the place of advice and care from your personal physician. For help with specific health problems you may be experiencing, please contact your physician who can properly evaluate your medical condition.