Meet the orthopaedics and spinal team at Nuffield Health Bristol who can help.

If you have been suffering with back pain, the spinal team at Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital takes a multi-disciplinary approach to ensure they find the right treatment pathway for each individual patient. Incorporating pain management, psychological support and physiotherapy, surgical intervention is considered a last resort, and if surgery is required, the surgical team includes both orthopaedic spinal surgeons and spinal neurosurgeons.

We meet two members of Nuffield Health’s expert spinal team in Bristol, Consultant Spinal Neurosurgeon Mr Nitin Patel and Pain Management Consultant Dr Gareth Greenslade.

Mr Nith Patel, Consutlant SPinal Neurosurgeon

Mr Nitin Patel, Consultant Spinal Neurosurgeon

What made you decide to specialise in spinal surgery?
I really enjoy the technical and practical challenges of spinal practice, both in terms of seeking a diagnosis and in delivering the right treatment, whether it’s non-surgical or surgical. Above all, it is immensely gratifying to see patients return to a normal lifestyle having previously been hindered by weakness or pain, which in some cases can be extremely debilitating.

What’s the most important quality for a spinal surgeon?
Listening to the patient, not just in terms of the symptoms they are experiencing but also understanding their anxieties, expectations, and how they perceive their condition. In many ways, this provides a much better understanding of how to tailor specific treatments that are suitable for that particular individual.

What do you enjoy most about being a spinal surgeon?
Working with a great team that understands how everyone, from the receptionist to the nurse, has a part to play in ensuring that the patient has a positive healthcare experience. For this, I am grateful to be working with a fantastic team at Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering coming to see you?
If you are concerned about spinal symptoms that are limiting your activities, a specialist consultation with advanced investigations such as MRI scanning can provide insight into the underlying cause and guide treatment options. Fortunately, the majority of patients with spinal conditions will improve with relatively simple treatments, whilst a few may benefit from surgery.

If you weren’t a surgeon, what would you like to do instead?
I enjoy technical and creative activities and one of my passions is photography, so I would love to hone my photography skills further and see more of the great outdoors for a living – although I’m not sure my skills as a photographer would be good enough to pay the mortgage!

Dr Gareth Greenslade, Pain Management Consultant

Dr Gareth Greenslade, Pain Management Consultant

What made you decide to specialise in pain management?
I was a medical officer in the Royal Navy in the 1980s and became interested in patients who were unable to return to duty because they had persistent pain, following injuries. The navy responded in their usual way, by sending me on a course at the Walton Pain Institute in Liverpool. From that time, I have never looked back!

What’s the most important quality for a pain management consultant?
You have to look at the whole patient and realise that persistent pain is just the tip of the iceberg in many cases. So the most important quality is probably the ability to listen carefully and respectfully to what the patient has to say and give them time to express themselves.

What do you enjoy most about being a pain management consultant?
Meeting a lot of interesting people from all walks of life. Also, the unique blend of hi-tech procedures, getting the medication right and seeing the results. The other thing is the need to be a skilled diagnostician to be sure that this is “just” pain and not something needing a different approach. This is easier with experience (the first 30 years were the worst!).

What advice would you give to someone who is considering coming to see you?
Come with an open mind. Complete the diagrams and questions we will send to you, including a note of any questions you want to ask me. Be prepared to take an active role in your treatment and recovery. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic in your expectations.

If you weren’t a doctor, what would you like to do instead?
If I had a sudden rush of talent, I would like to be a concert pianist.

For more information, call 0117 911 5339 or visit nuffieldhealth.com/hospitals/bristol