Chicago Back Institute

At the Chicago Back Institute, our physicians, therapists and staff understand and recognize your desire to regain control of your life as soon as possible.  With a strong focus on motion preservation procedures and techniques, we are dedicated to helping you restore stability while preserving natural motion. We take a collaborative, conservative approach to care, exploring less aggressive, rehabilitation-focused and complementary treatments — which have proven to be highly effective — before considering surgery.

The Chicago Back Institute is conveniently located on the campus of Swedish Covenant Hospital and Galter LifeCenter on Chicago's northwest side. This relationship and proximity means that Chicago Back Institute patients can benefit from all hospital and medical fitness service lines including complementary and alternative medicines, pain management and rehabilitation programs. 

The Chicago Back Institute's neurological surgeons are nationally recognized by their peers for their outstanding clinical skills, expertise and innovative approaches to surgical and non-surgical spinal care. Their goals are simple: 

  • To intervene only as necessary 
  • To facilitate your return to a quality and productive life 
  • To always adhere to sound protocols for effective, safe procedures 
  • To use the most advanced technologies and treatment options available
Request an appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >
Conditions we evaluate, diagnose and treat
The field of neurological surgery encompasses conditions affecting the spine, back, neck, arms and legs, and nervous system. The Chicago Back Institute specializes in diagnosing and treating patients with a variety of conditions and symptoms, including those listed below:

• Arteriovenous malformation of the spinal cord 
• Back pain 
• Brown-Sequard syndrome  
• Bulging disk  
• Carpal tunnel syndrome 
• Cauda equina syndrome  
• Cervical spinal stenosis  
• Disk disease  
• Diskitis  
• Disk space infection 
• Degenerative disease of the spine 
• Degenerative disk disease 
• Herniated disk (cervical, thoracic, lumbar)  
• Low back pain 
• Lumbar instability  
• Lumbar spinal stenosis  
• Lumbar spondylosis  
• Mid back pain  
• Myelopathy  
• Neck pain 
• Neurogenic claudication 
• Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL)  
• Pseudoclaudication  
• Radiculopathy (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) 
• Sciatica  
• Scoliosis 
• Spinal cord tumors (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) 
• Spinal instability 
• Spondylolisthesis 
• Spondylotic myelopathy 
• Spondylolysis (Pars defect) 
• Stenosis 
• Synovial cyst  
• Syringomyelia  
• Tarlov cyst

This list of terms and definitions is in place to help educate you about the different conditions you may face, so you can better understand how the Chicago Back Institute can treat you.

 If you experience any of these conditions or symptoms, please contact our licensed professionals for a diagnostic evaluation and the most effective treatments tailored to you.

At the Chicago Back Institute we not only treat back pain, but human beings.

The Chicago Back Institute is committed to using the most advanced technology available for treatments including alternative therapies, minimally invasive spine surgery, endoscopic spine surgery and fusion surgery.

Our neurological surgeons also specialize in motion-preservation technologies including total disk replacement and posterior stabilization, major spinal reconstruction and cancer surgery with reconstruction. 

Request an appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >
TESSYS — A minimally invasive herniated disk procedure
The Chicago Back Institute at Swedish Covenant Hospital is the only spine center in Chicago offering the TESSYS (transforaminal endoscopic surgical system) procedure, a minimally invasive approach to treating herniated disks. This endoscopic microdiscectomy is designed to preserve important back muscles so you can regain and maintain mobility, which allows you to recover — and get back to daily life — faster.

During the procedure, also known as the “keyhole” surgery, a specially trained neurological surgeon uses narrow endoscopic tools to remove the damaged disk area through a small, keyhole-sized (1-2 cm) incision in the patient’s side. Whereas traditional surgeries and many other minimally invasive procedures can cause damage to the muscles surrounding the spine, the keyhole technique avoids the muscles altogether and impacts only the damaged part of the disk.

After this surgery, many patients experience:

• Less pain and scarring
• A shortened hospital stay (many patients go home the day of surgery)
• Reduced risk of infection
• Faster recoveries overall
• A reduced risk of needing follow-up surgeries

Dr. Dan Laich, a neurological surgeon at the Chicago Back Institute, was the first American surgeon to be trained to provide this procedure. He traveled to Germany in 2006 to learn the technique and spent months perfecting his skills. Today, Dr. Laich is the only spine surgeon in Illinois consistently performing the surgery, and he trains other spine surgeons from across the United States and the world. Dr. Laich is also one of five surgeons chosen to collect data for a national clinical study measuring the effectiveness of minimally invasive spine surgery. Surgeons from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America recently attended an educational symposium about this procedure hosted at the Chicago Back Institute.

Watch this video to learn more from Dr. Laich about the TESSYS procedure and the symposium held at Swedish Covenant Hospital>>

Patient testimonials
Getting back to a ‘Nawlins lifestyle
Tom McCauley, 65, and his wife split their time between Aurora, Ill., and New Orleans, often making several trips back and forth every year.  Tom enjoys his active but laid-back lifestyle, filled with good food, good music and an occasional round of golf.  However, this lifestyle was recently threatened by a sudden bought of back pain which caused Tom to lose feeling in his left foot while on vacation. He immediately returned to Chicago and visited the Chicago Back Institute. Dr. Laich identified a herniated disk which could cause permanent nerve damage and recommended a TESSYS endoscopic microdiscectomy surgery. Less than an hour after the procedure, Tom had regained feeling in his foot and has since made a full recovery.

Even so, Tom returned to the Chicago Back Institute several months later for another surgery — but not for himself. His daughter, Kristin McCauley of the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, had injured her back while moving furniture, and by coincidence, also suffered a herniated disk. After trying to manage her pain through medication, physical therapy and chiropractic visits, Dr. Laich recommended the TESSYS procedure for her as well.  Like her father, she immediately felt relief after surgery and is now fully recovered and back to work and everyday life.

Aiding an international traveler
When Craig O’Brien, a 40-year-old from Naperville, hit the water slides with his kids on a family vacation, he had no idea how much suffering it would bring him and his career. A fluke injury caused two herniated disks that got progressively more painful and debilitating despite physical therapy and other conservative treatments.

The pain reached its worst just before a long-planned, crucial business trip to Hong Kong. Craig’s doctor said he needed surgery but Craig feared missing the trip would damage his career.

That’s when Dr. Dan Laich at the Chicago Back Institute told him about the TESSYS procedure, an innovative endoscopic microdiscectomy surgery in which the damaged disks are removed without damaging surrounding muscles or tissues. This allows for faster recovery than traditional or even other endoscopic procedures — meaning Craig could get the procedure and recover in time for the big trip.
Craig received the procedure in March and went home a few hours after his surgery — and was on his way to Hong Kong less than 10 days later, virtually pain free.

Request an Appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >

Has your doctor diagnosed you with SI Joint pain? We have a solution.

Eight-five percent of American adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. In about 25 percent of these cases, the sacroiliac (SI) joint is the source of that pain. And yet, many sufferers do not realize that the SI joint is the cause, and even more do not get the treatment they need.

At the Chicago Back Institute at Swedish Covenant Hospital, we are committed to reversing this trend and providing the best treatment options available for SI joints. The Chicago Back Institute is one of the few spine care centers in the nation offering SI Joint Stabilization, a minimally invasive surgical approach to treating pain in the lower back, pelvis and/or hips caused by SI joint dysfunction or injury.

This minimally invasive surgery alleviates pain in the lower back, hips and pelvis caused by instability in the sacroiliac (SI) joint. This approach is designed to reduce motion in the SI joint to provide stability for the lower back, while minimizing the size of the surgical incision, reducing risk of infection and shortening hospital stays.

To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >

How the SI joint works
The SI Joint is the point at which the sacrum (the bone surface between your spine and your tailbone) meets the Ilium (the upper hip bone). This is the largest axial joint in the body, which bears the bulk of your weight, absorbs shock and naturally moves very little to provide stability for your frame.

Lower back pain and the SI joint 
Complications can arise when the SI joint and surrounding ligaments loosen and move to a greater degree than normal. This motion can lead to:

• Pain in the lower back
• Pain in the buttock, pelvis or hips
• Numbness, tingling or pain in the legs (usually one or the other)
• Inability to sit comfortably with hips level 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the SI joint may be the source of your discomfort. 
Although the cause of the SI joint injury is not always clear, it could result from:

• Trauma (e.g. from a fall)
• Stress (e.g. from pregnancy)
• Prior lower back surgical fusions
• Degeneration over time 

Treating SI joint instability 
The SI joint is often overlooked in diagnoses of lower back pain because pain is not always easy for patients or physicians to pinpoint. Additionally, in the past, therapists, doctors and surgeons who identified the SI joint as a pain generator did not feel there was an effective treatment for the pain.  This trend is steadily changing in the spine care industry as research and education about the SI joint and its relationship to the lower back expand, and minimally invasive surgical technology advances.

Once the SI joint has been identified as a source of pain, stabilizing the joint is the primary treatment option. There are many methods for addressing SI Joint pain including physical therapy, chiropractic services, pelvic support belts, medications and injections. If these treatments do not fully address the pain and it continues for 3 months or more, a minimally invasive SI joint stabilization surgical procedure may be an option.

Traditional SI stabilization procedures involve a large incision, a long recovery period and high risk. Fortunately, recent advances in spine care technology have lead to an innovative minimally invasive SI joint stabilization procedure which effectively stabilizes the joint, reduces pain and speeds recoveries.

The procedure
The SI Joint Stabilization procedure is performed with either general or spinal anesthesia. During the procedure, a specially trained surgeon guides endoscope instruments into your back through a small incision (about the size of a pencil eraser) in the side of your buttock. These instruments allow the surgeon to insert stabilizing devices which will permanently stay in place after the surgery.  

Many patients experience immediate pain relief following the surgery. For others the pain gradually subsides over several days or weeks. Most patients go home the day after surgery.
In addition to patient treatment they have been extensively involved with the development and teaching of new, innovative procedures.

Jerrel Boyer, D.O., has nearly 20 years of experience and regional recognition as both an intracranial tumor surgeon and spine surgeon. He specializes in cranial, pain and nerve procedures, as well as minimally invasive spine surgery. He served as chief of the neurological surgery and neuroscience department at King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Kentucky, the most highly awarded hospital in Kentucky. Dr. Boyer is involved in medical mission trips to Nigeria, which he plans to coordinate at Swedish Covenant Hospital in the future. 

Daniel T. Laich, D.O., has nearly 25 years of experience in spine care and neurological surgery. He specializes in therapeutic and minimally invasive spine treatments, including endoscopic and arthroplasty surgeries, as well as spine reconstruction. He was a fellow when he started a study on the Charite artificial disk, and with Rick Fessler, M.D., Ph.D., as he pioneered minimally invasive spine surgery. He continues in his academic pursuits both in the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Laich has also traveled with medical mission trips to several African countries, including Nigeria with Dr. Boyer. He hopes to continue a developing relationship with the Cleveland Clinic's mission in Ghana and mission trips with Dr. Boyer and Carol Talisse, MMS, PA-C. His athletic lifestyle provides extra interest in caring for the injured athlete. 

Carol Talisse, MMS, PA-C, serves as a physician's assistant focused on compassionate spinal care. She has attended specialized neurological surgery and spine training across the country and has received numerable accolades from clinical staff, as well as her patients, thanking her for care beyond the confines of the office. She also has great interest in medical mission trips abroad. 

Request an appointment
To learn more or make an appointment at the Chicago Back Institute, please call 773-271-2225 or submit an appointment request form >

Call 773-271-2225 to see a Chicago Back Institute specialist. 

Chicago Back Institute Patient Stories

Read stories from patients who have found healing and compassion at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

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