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Information for patients – spinal

The spinal service at the Countess of Chester Hospital was set up and run by Mr Braithwaite in 1996, seeing patients not only from Chester but also from North Wales, the Wirral and much of rural Cheshire. His large private patient practice in that period was based at the Nuffield Hospital in Chester.

The NHS service closed in April 2013 and Mr Braithwaite now sees patients only at the Grosvenor Nuffield Hospital in Chester. He sees insured and self-pay patients.

He sees large numbers of patients with problems in all areas of the spine and all types of pathologies. He is part of a large regional network for more complex problems. He works closely with physiotherapists and rehabilitation experts, pain specialists and psychiatrists, and with other spinal surgeons. He is a member of the North West Spine Society and of the British Association of Spinal Surgeons.

Pathologies of the spine that Mr Braithwaite assesses:

  • Neck pain
  • Whiplash injury
  • Arthritis in the neck
  • Brachial neuritis (trapped nerve) and mimicking conditions
  • Thoracic spine pain and radiating nerve pain
  • Low back pain
  • Disc degeneration
  • Facet arthritis
  • Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis
  • Fractures
  • Scoliosis and other deformity
  • Tumours
  • Spinal stenosis (leg pain coming from nerve compression)
  • Sciatica and disc prolapses
  • Coccyx pain
  • Sacro-iliac joint pain
  • Stress fractures

Most patients presenting to Mr Braithwaite require an MRI scan to complete the assessment. Sometimes other tests are needed, such a blood tests, CT scan, isotope scan, etc.

Only rarely is surgery required for spinal problems. Sometimes just a diagnosis with advice and reassurance are all that is needed. Many patients are referred back to their GP for better pain control, though several outstanding pain specialists work at the Grosvenor Nuffield Hospital. Injections can sometimes help. Mr Braithwaite undertakes some injections, and the pain specialists and interventional radiologists can offer other injections such as epidurals and nerve root injections.

If physiotherapy is needed the Grosvenor Nuffield Hospital has an excellent department that can also offer ongoing gym-based rehabilitation and pilates, and there may be other excellent services nearer your home if you do not live in Chester. Sometimes osteopathy/chiropractic treatment can be recommended, and acupuncture and other alternative treatments can be of benefit.

Occasionally surgery is suggested, though you should bear in mind that spinal surgery is inherently risky. Because Mr Braithwaite no longer undertakes open spinal surgery you can be assured that he has no vested interest in suggesting surgery, but if needed he will refer you to the best surgeon for your particular requirement from a selection of colleagues around the region.

During consultations Mr Braithwaite will normally dictate his letter so that you can hear (and correct) what he is saying. The letter is typed and usually faxed to your GP within a few days. You can be sent a copy if you wish.

If you have a scan or other investigations normally you will be able to have a copy of the scan on a disc and the radiologist’s report.