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The Spine Institute

We have five of the finest spine and pain management specialists in the Hudson Valley. Drs. William Barrick, Richard Perkins, Nicholas Renaldo, Richard Dentico, and Vishal Rekhala have highly-specialized training in the latest diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for the treatment of spinal disorders, including back and neck pain, herniated discs, vertebral compression fractures, scoliosis, and spinal instability.

Our advantage over other orthopedic practices in the Hudson Valley Region is that we work together as a team to select the best treatment for each patient, considering individual needs and setting goals to achieve the best possible outcome. For difficult cases, we consider multiple paths when deciding how to achieve optimum solutions for our patients’ needs.

Millions of Americans suffer from back pain. It can make daily activities difficult and sometimes unbearable. The specialists that make up our Spine Team are fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopedic surgeons, physical medicine specialists, and non-surgical spine specialists. We offer a full spectrum of non-surgical and surgical treatment of spinal disorders, encompassing trauma, degenerative, and deformity conditions. Should surgery be necessary, our Spine Team offers minimally invasive procedures such as microdiscectomy, kyphoplasty, and spine fusion.

In the Hudson Valley, we are fortunate to have five of the finest spine specialists right here at Orthopedic Associates of Dutchess County. Dr. William T. Barrick, Dr. Richard B. Perkins, Dr. Nicholas Renaldo, Dr. Richard Dentico and Dr. Vishal Rekhala have highly specialized training in the latest diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for the treatment of spine disorders including herniated discs, back and neck pain, vertebral compression fractures, scoliosis, and spinal instability.

Meet Our Team

The Spine Institute
William Barrick, M.D.
Richard Dentico, M.D.
Richard B. Perkins, M.D
Vishal P. Rekhala, D.O.
Nicholas Renaldo, M.D.
Stephen Lebitsch, FNP-BC


“Degenerative disc disease” is a misnomer as a degenerated spinal disc is not a disease, but rather part of the normal aging process of the spine. When a disc degenerates, it loses the ability to function efficiently as a part of the spinal joint. This, in turn, may lead to pain in the neck or back, sometimes with radiating pain and weakness in the extremities.

DDD is the most common cause of Lower back pain and neck pain from ages 10 -50. DDD is a primarily genetic condition caused by defective collagen cross linking which results in faster wear and tear on the spinal discs. The discs act like shock absorbers to support the spine yet allow motion. Many patients with DDD have a close relative(s) with the condition. The other 30 % of DDD is felt to be due to environmental factors such as normal aging, injuries, poor body mechanics such as improper bending and twisting, obesity ( only a minor risk factor ) and nicotine use /smoking. Nicotine and smoking are the number one reversible cause of DDD progression. Nicotine and cigarettes damage the capillary blood vessels which supply the vertebral endplates.

The Discs in the spine get their nutrition and oxygen from diffusion through the endplates because the discs do not have their own direct blood supply. Over time, if the blood supply to the vertebral endplates is damaged, then the discs are starved of oxygen and nutrients and cannot repair and maintain the strength of the disc. Stopping smoking and nicotine use is the best way to protect the healing power of the discs and slow progression of DDD.

As a disc degenerates, the soft inner gel of the disc can leak back into the spinal canal. This is known as a disc herniation. Once inside the spinal canal, the herniated disc material puts pressure on the nerve, causing pain to radiate down the nerve. This may lead to sciatica or leg pain the case of a herniated lumbar disc, or arm pain in the case of a herniated cervical disc.

Osteoporosis is a condition which causes thinning of the bones. This may result in vertebral compression fractures, deformity (kyphosis), or even death. Osteoporosis and related spinal fractures are largely preventable or treatable with medications, calcium intake, and kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty surgery.


Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of back and neck pain after age 50. Osteoarthritis is caused by the progression of DDD and involves the formation of bone spurs at the edges of the disc space from loss of disc fluid. The disc space and motion segment become unstable and shift suddenly, causing the back or neck to “go out.” From this repetitive abnormal shifting of the vertebrae, the body responds by forming bone spurs to try to restabilize the spine and protect the nerves. When the disc wears out, stress is also transferred to the paired “facet” joints in the back of the spine, causing them to wear out their articular cartilage (same type of cartilage as in the knee and hip joint). The facet joints then also form bone spurs as the body tries to re-stabilize the spine. The friction caused by the loss of the smooth gliding surface in the facet joints also causes back and neck pain.

If the Bone spurs and ligaments enlarge from the chronic instability or “shifting” caused by DDD, the nerves can eventually become pinched by the bone spurs both from the discs in front and the facets in back. The bone spurs and ligaments which buckle in and thicken due to loss in disc height and instability both narrow the spinal canal and can use pain, numbness, tingling or weakness radiating down into the arms or legs. When this happens, the condition is called Spinal Stenosis. Spinal Stenosis is a complication of Osteoarthritis of the Spine.

The sacroiliac joint connects the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine (the sacrum) with the pelvis. If its normal motion is disturbed, it may be a source of low back or leg pain. More specifically, sacroiliac joint pain may be caused by too much or too little movement.

SIJ pain is often seen in patients with previous lumbar spine fusion because of stress transfer to the SI joints. It is also seen in patients with trauma to the SI joints from car accidents or falls onto the buttock region which can cause a shear stress across the joint and damaging the cartilage inside the joint.
Scoliosis means that there is an abnormal curvature, or bend in the spine. This would be a curvature in the spine when viewed from the front or back. The human spine normally is curved as viewed from the side.

There are many types of scoliosis. Sometimes young people develop it in preteen or teenage years. Much more commonly it occurs over time due to aging and arthritis.

Scoliosis can cause pain and dysfunction but not always. There are many treatments for scoliosis.


Non-Surgical Treatment Options

MLS Laser Therapy is an FDA-cleared treatment for pain that uses concentrated light energy to stimulate the body’s own healing process. Laser therapy minimizes pain and inflammation as an alternative to prescriptions and surgery. It reduces recovery times, which is especially important post-surgery, so patients can quickly return to a higher quality of life. MLS (multi-wave locked system) technology in specific delivers two therapeutic wavelengths – the 808nm (anti-edemic and anti-inflammatory) and the 905nm (analgesic). The combination of these wavelengths produces greater pain-relieving effects than either can produce on their own, while also minimizing the risk of thermal damage. It is this unique combination and synchronization of continuous and pulsed emissions that characterizes MLS and distinguishes it from other Class IV lasers.
There are numerous bracing options. Limiting the motion of the spine enhances the healing process and may also decrease the patient’s pain and discomfort. Two types of braces commonly used to limit motion of the spine are rigid and corset braces. A provider may recommend a particular brace and bracing schedule based on factors specific to that individual, such as location or degree of spinal curvature. Compliance with the brace is vital to the success of this type of treatment.
A highly-trained physical therapist evaluates and creates a treatment plan to meet your individual needs and goals. This includes exercises, manual techniques, stretching, soft tissue techniques and other treatment methods to effectively improve your condition.
Epidural steroid injections are frequently used for relief of low back and leg pain. This treatment involves injection of a steroidal anti-inflammatory medication into the epidural space of the spine to effectively reduce the inflammation that may be caused by disc herniation, spinal stenosis or spinal arthritis.
The facet joints are the small joints at each segment of the spine. They provide stability and help to guide motion. They can become painful due to arthritis, a back injury, or mechanical stress to the spine. A facet joint block is an injection of local anesthetic into one or more of the joints located along the side of each vertebrae on both sides of the spine in the lower portion of the back.
A selective nerve root block is primarily used to diagnose the specific source of nerve root pain and for therapeutic relief of low back and/or leg pain. This procedure involves an injection of a small amount of steroid and numbing medications around a very specific nerve root/spinal nerve as it exits out of the spinal cord.

Surgical Treatment Options

A cervical herniated disc can be removed through an anterior approach to relieve spinal cord or nerve root pressure with corresponding pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling. After the disc is removed, a bone graft is inserted to fuse together the bones above and below the disc space.
Artificial disc replacement surgery involves replacing a painful disc with an artificial disc. Artificial disc surgery may be performed on the lumbar or cervical spine. These discs are designed to mimic the form and function of a natural disc.

Younger patients in their 30-40s without bone spurs and soft disc hernations at one single disc space are the best candidates for ADR /TDR.

(aka Spinal Arthrodesis ) refers to joining two vertebrae together permanently using a variety of different approaches and techniques. The most common reason the spine is fused is from Spinal Instability due to conditions such as spondylolisthesis , fractures, tumors, infections and from planned instability caused by having the remove the facets joints in patients with severe spinal stenosis to decompress the nerves. The Spine Institute at Orthopedic Associates work with our patients to select the best technique for each patients unique situation.

The spine can be fused from different directions or approaches i.e Anterior, Lateral, Posterior. The most common performed Fusion is a Posterior Lumbar Fusion where the low back is fused from an incision in the back. The sides of the vertebrae and facets joints are exposed and decorticated (the outer surface of the bone is removed allowing bone to grow outwards)

A bone graft is obtained from the patients own bone removed to decompress the pinched nerves (local bone graft ), from the patients pelvis ( iliac crest auto bone graft) , cadaver bone (allograft) , patients own bone marrow (aspirate) , synthetic bone graft, or sometimes a hormone which causes bone formation (Bone Morphogenic protein) . The choice of bone graft is part of the decision making process between the patient and the surgeon and all have risks and benefits. The bone graft is placed on the exposed spine surfaces and the graft grows the spine together over a period of several months to years. When the bone grows together, the excess motion which causes pain is eliminated and the pain is often reduced. Sometimes in order to improve healing rates of the fusion, the disc is removed from the front of the spine (Anterior/ALIF), the Side of the spine (Lateral or XLIF) or from the posterolateral region (TLIF or PLIF) and bone graft usually in a supportive device made from plastic, titanium or cadaver bone called a Cage is placed to maintain or restore the disc height and allow the bone to grow through one vertebrae into another. Often, titanium Screws and rods or plates are used to stabilize the spine to reduce pain and to decrease motion and allow a greater chance of the fusion healing, this is called spinal instrumentation. The instrumentation we use is MRI compatible.

More recently, Lumbar Fusion surgery is being done more often using X-ray image guidance or computer guided navigation in carefully selected patients through smaller incisions with less blood loss, less muscle trauma and quicker recoveries. This is called Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MISS)or Minimal Access Surgery. (MAS)

The Spine Institute at Orthopedic Associates Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Spine Surgeons were the first in our area to perform MISS/MAS spine surgery and have been doing this for over 15 years in the Hudson Valley region.

An artificial disc like Mobi-C is an option instead of a fusion that will also be placed inside the disc space to restore height and remove pressure on the pinched nerves. However, the Mobi-C device is designed to allow the neck to maintain normal motion and potentially prevent the adjacent levels from degenerating, possibly preventing future surgeries.

The M6-C artificial cervical disc is a next-generation artificial disc developed to replace a vertebral disc damaged by cervical disc degeneration. The M6-C disc is designed to help restore motion to the spine and is an option for patients needing artificial disc replacement as an alternative to cervical fusion. By allowing your spine to move naturally, the M6-C artificial disc is designed to potentially minimize the stress to adjacent discs and other vertebral structures.

During kyphoplasty surgery, a small incision is made in the back through which the doctor places a narrow tube. Using fluoroscopy to guide it to the correct position, the tube creates a path through the back into the fractured area through the pedicle of the involved vertebrae.

Using X-ray images, the doctor inserts a special balloon through the tube and into the vertebrae, then gently and carefully inflates it. As the balloon inflates, it elevates the fracture, returning the pieces to a more normal position. It also compacts the soft inner bone to create a cavity inside the vertebrae.

The balloon is removed and the doctor uses specially designed instruments under low pressure to fill the cavity with a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). After being injected, the pasty material hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.



Posted in on January, 2022