Spine Surgeon in King of Prussia

Dr. Steven Valentino is a fellowship trained spine surgeon with offices in King of Prussia, PA an Sewell, NJ.
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Steven Valentino, D.O.

Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon
Fellowship-trained in Spine Surgery

Dr. Steven Valentino is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship-trained in spine, which is the highest level of medical education possible in the United States.

The difference between a M.D. degree (Medical Doctor) and D.O. Degree (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) is that osteopathic doctors have additional training in the structure of the musculoskeletal system, including how movement or manipulation can in some cases relieve pain symptoms. Both M.D.s and D.O.s can prescribe medicine, and orthopedic surgeon M.D.s and D.O.s perform the same surgeries. Fellowship-training related to spine surgery is typically identical between both MD and DO degrees.

Dr. Valentino has practiced orthopedic surgery specializing in spine in the Philadelphia and South Jersey region for more than 25 years. Over that period, he has performed more than 5,000 successful spine surgeries. He was one of the first surgeons in the Philadelphia / South Jersey region to be trained in minimally invasive spine surgery and artificial disc replacement surgery.

Dr. Valentino completed his year-long spine fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – Presbyterian in Philadelphia. Before that, he completed a residency in orthopedic surgery where he was named “Chief Resident.” During his hospital internship, he was named the “Intern of the Year.”

His Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree was received in 1982 from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a graduate of LaSalle College and Bishop Neumann High School, both in Philadelphia.

In addition to being a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Valentino is also Board-Certified by the American Academy of Disability Evaluating Physicians, and Board-Certified by the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners. He is trained to perform Independent Medical Examinations and to provide Impairment Ratings related to on-the-job injury.

He has written dozens of professional papers and presentations for publication on the subjects of back and neck pain; back injury in the workplace; back injury in sports; non-surgical spine care options and spine surgery.

He is licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

He is on the medical staff at the following hospitals:

  • MainLine Health
  • Bryn Mawr Hospital
  • Lankneau Hospital
  • Mercy Suburban Hospital
  • Kennedy Hospital in Washington Township, NJ

Back Pain FAQs

Dr. Steven Valentino receives many question each day from back pain patients. Here are some of the most common questions about back pain.

Back pain is very common issue, especially for active people. The spine is a complex structure composed of bones, muscles, nerves, and joints. When pain in the back gradually increases, most likely the patient has something defective in their musculoskeletal spine. With that said, back and neck pain can be misdiagnosed as there can be great variation among spine doctors and their training. Dr. Steven Valentino is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine care. Dr. Valentino has had an active spine specialty practice in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years. Fellowship-training is the highest level of medical education possible in the United States.

Most often back pain develops from a disruption to the normal functioning of muscles, ligaments, cartilage or a pinched nerve. Back pain caused by damage or disease to your spine will most likely require surgical intervention to cure the problem. Those who work in labor intensive jobs in Michigan can be at higher risk of back pain.

Back pain is most common in the lumbar (lower back) region, although it can be felt anywhere along your spine, from your neck down to your hips. The lower back (lumbar spine) area is the most frequently reported area of pain. The neck (cervical spine) is another common pain area. The middle (thoracic spine) area is least reported due to the rib cage and sternum providing structural support of the spine, usually resulting in less problems and pain in the middle region. Back pain symptoms can include pain that runs down your legs or arms, muscle ache and spasms, and limited range of motion.

Some of the common back problems include bulging or herniated disc, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, and degenerative disc disease. The only way to correctly diagnose the cause of your back or neck pain is with specialized diagnostic tests. Dr. Steven Valentino uses X-rays and MRI diagnostic tests to reveal disc herniations. Dr. Valentino also uses spinal injections as both a therapeutic and diagnostic procedure. Spinal injections can not only relieve pain symptoms from a herniated disc, but more importantly, confirm the exact disc level that is responding to pain medication, or NOT responding. By confirming the exact disc level, this ensures Dr. Valentino that he has identified the pain generator. This also ensures a successful surgery by Dr. Valentino if surgery is indeed necessary.

All four cases occur when discs become weakened over time and part of a disc is sticking out between the bony parts of the vertebra.

While someone may argue that the two words are different, that a sprain is a more serious injury than a strain, in reality, sprain and strain have evolved to mean essentially the same things to doctors and lawyers. Both words relate to an overworked muscle, ligament or tendon that is overstretched. Some may argue that strain relates to stretching or tearing of muscles or tendons, while sprain relates to tearing of ligaments or tissues in a joint area. For example, if bones in a joint are forced beyond a comfortable range of motion, the joint may be sprained. Another word that you may hear is “muscle spasm,” where a muscle locks up in an excruciating, hard lump.

Most people erroneously think that the more excruciating the pain, the more likely that you herniated a disc. That is not the case at all. In some cases a back spasm can knock you down to your knees. A person can have excruciating pain, but if it is mostly in the low back, it’s probably not a herniated disc. Typically, a herniated disc in your back will radiate pain down into your leg, or pain will radiate down your arm if you have a blown disc in your neck. In this sense, Dr. Valentino emphasizes to patients that pain is not a good indicator of when it’s crucial to see a spine surgeon. Dr. Valentino notes that weakness and numbness in a foot or hand are the real emergency symptoms that need to be seen within a couple days to prevent permanent paralysis of those nerves.

Types of diagnostics include:

  • X-rays show bones and the space between bones. Although X-rays are of limited value to muscle-related back pain cases, the spine surgeon at Ann Arbor Spine Care may conduct X-rays to detect possible fractured vertebrae or narrowing of disc space.
  • MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CT scans provide images of soft tissues and nerves in the spine, including discs and joints. This is valuable information to your physician in determining the cause of your pain. These tests provide a medical photograph of your body and are painless.
  • Myelograms can reveal the amount of damage in the spine. They are used to determine if surgery is necessary. If it is, myelograms provide a surgeon with key information to ensure the success of surgery.

A natural byproduct of aging is the loss of resiliency in spinal discs and a greater tendency for them to herniate, especially when placed under a weighty load, like when we lift heavy objects. Additionally, some people have a family history of degenerative disc disease, which increases their own risk of developing it. When a natural disc herniates or becomes badly degenerated, it loses its shock-absorbing ability, which can narrow the space between vertebrae.

There is a tremendous amount of spine surgery in the United States. Consequently, Dr. Valentino believes it can be a good idea to get a second opinion for spine surgery from a physician who is fellowship-trained in spine surgery. During a second opinion, the fellowship-trained spine surgeon will look at your previous diagnostic studies and your medical history to make sure non-surgical treatment options have been exhausted. Also a second opinion can reveal if you really need a spinal fusion or if you qualify for a less invasive minimally invasive spine surgery. Ann Arbor Spine Care does a large number of second opinions related to back surgery.

Osteoporosis can have extremely serious consequences on the spine. Because osteoporosis often progresses undetected, the first indication could be as disastrous as a bone fracture. These fractures typically strike an area of the body that carries the most stress, such as the spine, wrists or hips. Spinal fractures can occur without notice, as vertebrae simply compress. Compression fractures can be very painful and may lead to stooped posture, loss of height and risk of serious neurological damage to spinal nerves.

Non-surgical treatments for chronic back pain can include physical therapy, acupuncture, spinal injections, nerve blocks, and specialized spine therapy. Dr. Steven Valentino emphasizes non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery.

Prevention is the best strategy for coping with back pain and can save a great deal of time and agony. Become an educated health care consumer by learning about effective prevention methods.

Home remedies for back pain include:

  • Stretch before and after strenuous activity.
  • Use good posture at all times, and do not slouch.
  • When standing, keep your weight balanced on both feet rather than shifting it back and forth.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress.
  • When sitting for long periods of time, take frequent breaks.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and try to avoid weight gain, especially around the mid-section, which can take a toll on the low back.
  • Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy for you. When lifting, use the strength in your legs more than the back.
  • Avoid smoking, which accelerates degeneration in the spine.

With age, our bones and muscles lose tone and elasticity. They become less able to properly cushion the vertebrae and more likely to spasm or break. When a spinal disc ruptures or bulges, it places pressure on the surrounding nerves and results in pain signals traveling to the brain. Other factors such as smoking, obesity, poor posture and lack of sleep can also contribute to back pain.

  • Applying ergonomics can help prevent repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly if you are constantly working at a computer. Use a headset for lengthy or frequent telephone work.
  • A footrest should be used if, after adjusting the height of the chair, feet do not rest flat on the floor.
  • When performing daily tasks, alternate between sitting and standing or take small walking breaks throughout the day.
  • Position the computer monitor directly in front to avoid excessive twisting of the neck. When typing, press the keys gently; do not bang them or hold them down for long periods. Keep your shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers relaxed.

Comprehensive Spine Care

With offices in King of Prussia, PA and Sewell, NJ, the spine and orthopedic practice of Dr. Steven Valentino is a resource for patients, employers and case managers in the Philadelphia and South Jersey region.

At some point in their lives, 80% of Americans will have an attack of back pain or neck pain. Worse, once you have your first back pain attack, you are four times more likely to have a recurrence. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, back pain or neck pain symptoms will go away on their own in a week or so. Other times, when the pain symptoms persist for longer than a week, most of these cases will also improve with some customized stretches that restore movement to inflamed ligaments and muscles, anti-inflammatories or spinal injections that relieve pain long enough to get moving again.

The root issue, however, is that for common acute back pain symptoms that do not involve nerve damage (numbness, weakness or pain in an arm or leg) physicians don’t know for sure which patients will respond to non-surgical treatment options, and which problems require more “invasive” treatment, such as spine surgery. Consequently, the best spine care exhausts non-surgical treatment options for back and neck pain before spine surgery is considered.

With back and neck pain so widespread, often those with back pain symptoms end up making a pilgrimage to multiple locations, from a chiropractor office, to their family practice physician, to then a referral to a spine specialist for an MRI and other diagnostics. For the person with an aching back, the journey to multiple locations to suffer through a variety of conflicting opinions and treatment plans can be a major headache on top of a backache.

Thankfully, for those in Philadelphia and South Jersey, we are positioned to help.

Liberty Spine Care includes the expertise of a fellowship-trained spine surgeon, along with affiliated non-surgical spine MDs, experienced in spine and on-the-job injury, and affiliated spine-specialized physical therapists.

A non-surgical approach to back and neck pain

What makes Liberty Spine Care unique is its emphasis on non-surgical treatment options for back and neck problems. Additionally, Liberty Spine Care also recognizes the role played by chiropractors in providing patients another nonsurgical treatment option before surgery is considered.

The Liberty Spine Care caring physician and staff have successfully helped many patients return to an active lifestyle with conservative care options. Dr. Valentino excels in designing patient specific treatment options. Surgery is recommended as a last resort when non surgical options have failed to resolve symptoms.

Unfortunately, there can be a lack of coordination among the different specialists treating back and neck conditions. Sadly, health insurance medical directors often complain that a single back pain patient can see 10 different doctors and receive 10 different diagnoses and 10 different treatment recommendations.

Because these spine specialists are often spread across towns or regions, there is typically no communication between them about a specific patient. This means that a patient will often travel from doctors office to doctors office, having to start from scratch with his or her story to build a new medical chart from scratch.

Thirdly, because non-surgical treatment options are poorly designed, it predestines the patient to failure of conservative non-surgical care. And when non-surgical options fail, this forces the patient to resort to surgery, in many cases, unnecessarily. An unnecessary spine surgery can unfortunately just create a bigger nightmare for the person, as scarring around a nerve root from surgery can create “failed back surgery syndrome” which is worse than any original pain symptom.

Liberty Spine Care emphasizes nonsurgical treatment options like spinal injections that can relieve the symptoms of a herniated or bulging disc. Through the use of an epidural steroid injection, the spine specialist is able to reduce inflammation around a nerve root. This in turn can relieve the symptoms of radiating pain into a leg or arm, or deficit (weakness or numbness in a hand or foot).

Because Liberty Spine Care develops comprehensive treatment plans for each patient, this helps prevent redundancy or duplication of effort.

Dr. Steven Valentino works closely with outside specialists in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, pain management anesthesiologists and spine specialist therapists who also provide complementary and multi-disciplinary treatment options for patients. The physicians involved communicate and blend their expertise for the benefit of the patient. As a result, these spine specialists are often able to help many patients resolve their back or neck pain symptoms without the need for spine surgery.

When spine surgery is necessary

When all nonsurgical treatment options fail to provide relief of symptoms, we emphasize minimally invasive spine surgery which shortens the incision, reduces time in the hospital, lessens pain during rehab, and speeds the return to activity and one’s work. Dr. Valentino prefers to use a minimally invasive surgery technique when it is appropriate for the patient — for the benefit of the patient.

Sometimes, spine surgery is the right treatment. This may occur because symptoms of radiating pain have not responded to non-surgical treatment options like injection therapy or customized spine physical therapy. In other cases, some symptoms like weakness or numbness in a leg or hand, or loss of control of bowel or bladder, represent emergency symptoms where back or neck surgery must be done quickly to prevent permanent paralysis of the nerves that relate to these muscles or extremities.

If your back or neck problem requires surgery, Liberty Spine Care includes a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon who is already referred complex surgical cases from across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

These spine surgery cases can include herniated discs, spinal fractures, degenerative disc disease, facet joint problems and other complex spine problems.

Pain relief through a focus on function

Pain is a signal from the body to the brain that something is wrong. Either the back is too weak, too inflexible, something lifted was too heavy or the wrong body mechanics were used. And, unfortunately, those doctors who focus exclusively on pain symptoms often recommend a course of treatment that is the exact opposite of what the individual needs to recover from the back problem.

Years ago, for example, doctors treated back pain with bed rest and heavy drugs to mask the discomfort. It was found, however, that this type of treatment was actually damaging to the back, because it caused muscles in the back to get weaker, in turn, causing more strain and pain. Patients became more dependent on drugs and grew more inactive and disabled.

In fact, pain relief actually can come through movement. Low-impact sports like walking and swimming are the best way to make the back feel better and stronger. Liberty Spine Care uses written clinical protocols to improve care and reduce treatment variation — the essence of true quality management. This enables us to make sure the right thing is done at the right time, every time. This also makes sure that every nonsurgical option has been explored — such as therapy and injections — before spine surgery is considered.

While others talk about quality, we measure outcomes with patient severity data at intake and functional status post treatment. Lastly, we audit patient satisfaction so we can continually improve, because that’s what quality is all about.

Testimonials

five star rating image for the corresponding spine center testimonial

I saw Dr. Valentino for some neck pain. He was very thorough in our initial meeting, and recommended an epidural injection. I was scheduled within 2 weeks and his staff was very helpful with managing the timing of my procedure. Dr. Valentino’s bedside manner is exactly what a patient needs: reassuring and considerate. I would happily recommend Dr. Valentino.

Bryn
five star rating image for the corresponding spine center testimonial

Definitely would recommend Dr. Valentino. Explained the condition in detail. Required all testing prior to recommending the best course of action to proceed. After having all test results he advised the best course of action to take. Made me feel very confident about his ability to correct my condition.

LC
five star rating image for the corresponding spine center testimonial

Amazing Doctor. I have recommended him to many. He is the best Ortho around. I will never go to anyone else. Great bedside manner.

Catherine
five star rating image for the corresponding spine center testimonial

Dr. Valentino was the first doctor to take the time and effort to seek out the cause of my problem instead of masking it with an injection. Thanks to Dr. Valentino’s care and concern for me, I now live pain free without injections.

Elmer
five star rating image for the corresponding spine center testimonial
Dr Valentino is a very kind and compassionate Doctor.His office is well run, cutting edge and very professional. The staff were always very sympathetic and lifted my spirits every time I went there… Would highly recommend Dr Valentino to anyone seeking a knowledgeable orthopedic surgeon.
Alaun

Contact Us

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ADDRESS

  • King of Prussia
    Merion Building, Suite 110
    700 S Henderson Rd
    King of Prussia, PA 19406

  • Sewell
    556 Egg Harbor Rd
    RFB Surgical Plus, Suite A
    Sewell, NJ 08080

PHONE

  • (610) 265-5795

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    Dr. Steven J. Valentino specializes in the treatment of back and neck pain in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area. Dr. Valentino is fellowship-trained in spine — the highest level of medical training in the U.S.

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