Spine Specialist In Singapore

Dr Poh Seng Yew, with 18 years of experience in orthopaedic surgery, specialises in treating various orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions including spine complications. His approach integrates current surgical techniques, including arthroscopic, minimally invasive, and open surgical methods, to offer a range of treatment options tailored to each specific case.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to spine complications, consider a consultation with our MOH-accredited spine specialist for a thorough diagnosis and a personalised treatment approach.

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Dr Poh Seng Yew



MMED (Ortho)



Common Spine Conditions

Spine conditions can vary widely in terms of their nature and impact on individuals. These conditions often involve discomfort or pain and may affect mobility and quality of life.

  • Neck Pain - This condition is often a result of factors like poor posture, muscle strain, or injury, leading to stiffness, soreness, or tension in the neck. Symptoms may include headaches, shoulder pain, and arm numbness.
  • Neck Sprain - Neck sprains are often caused by poor posture, heavy lifting, or sudden, awkward movements. They may be sudden and severe (acute) or ongoing (chronic). Symptoms include stiffness, tightness in neck muscles, and potential radiating pain.
  • Cervical Spondylosis - This refers to age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal discs in the neck. It can cause neck pain, stiffness, and in some cases, numbness or weakness in the arms and hands.
  • Cervical Myelopathy - This condition, stemming from pressure on the spinal cord in the neck region, can result in pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness, affecting fine motor skills and balance.
  • Disc Herniation - Known as a slipped or ruptured disc, this condition involves the protrusion of disc material, which can press on nearby nerves. Symptoms vary but often include pain, numbness, and tingling sensations.
  • Lumbar Spondylolisthesis - Occurring when a vertebra in the lower back slips forward, this condition can cause lower back pain and numbness or tingling in the legs or feet.
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Characterised by the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back, it often results in chronic back pain, leg discomfort, and weakness.

Common Causes Of Spine Conditions

The development of spine conditions can be attributed to various factors:

  • Age-Related Degeneration
    The natural ageing process can lead to the degeneration of spinal structures. Conditions like cervical spondylosis and lumbar spinal stenosis are often a result of the wear and tear that spinal discs and joints undergo over time.
  • Poor Posture and Ergonomics
    Consistently maintaining an improper posture, especially during sedentary activities such as desk work or the extensive use of mobile devices, can exert undue stress on the spine. This prolonged strain can contribute to conditions like neck sprain or chronic back pain.
  • Traumatic Injury
    Physical impacts from accidents, sports, or falls can cause acute injuries like neck sprains, disc herniations, or more severe spinal trauma. These incidents can lead to immediate pain or contribute to long-term spinal health issues.
  • Repetitive Strain and Overuse
    Engaging in activities that put consistent strain on the spine, such as heavy lifting, repetitive bending, or twisting, can lead to conditions like disc herniation or muscle strain. Occupational hazards are often a factor in these cases.
  • Genetic Predisposition
    Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible to certain spine conditions. This can include congenital spinal anomalies or inherited tendencies towards conditions like disc degeneration.
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle Factors
    Habits such as smoking can contribute to spinal disc degeneration due to reduced blood supply to the spine. Lack of regular exercise can also weaken the muscles supporting the spine, increasing the risk of injury and degenerative conditions.
  • Underlying Medical Conditions
    Certain diseases such as osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis can affect spinal health. Osteoporosis can weaken bones, making fractures more likely, while inflammatory conditions like arthritis can cause joint deterioration and pain.

Symptoms and Signs

Recognising the symptoms and signs of spine conditions can aid early detection and treatment.

  • Pain and Discomfort: Varies from mild aches to severe pain, potentially localised or radiating to other body parts like arms or legs.
  • Stiffness: Limited flexibility or movement in the neck or back, often felt upon waking or after prolonged inactivity.
  • Numbness or Tingling: Sensations of numbness, tingling, or ‘pins and needles’, particularly in the arms or legs, suggesting nerve involvement.
  • Muscle Weakness Decreased strength in the muscles of the arms or legs, possibly affecting the ability to grasp objects or walk.
  • Changes in Reflex Responses: Altered or diminished reflex responses, indicating nerve compression.
  • Changes in Posture: Noticeable changes in posture or difficulty maintaining a straight posture due to pain or muscle imbalance.
  • Headaches: In conditions like neck sprain, headaches may occur, often originating from the neck region.
  • Difficulty in Walking: Difficulty in walking or changes in walking patterns, particularly in conditions affecting the lumbar region.


The diagnostic process for spine conditions includes:

Medical History and Symptom Assessment

This initial stage involves a thorough discussion of the patient’s symptoms, including its nature, duration, and severity. Information about prior injuries, medical conditions, and certain lifestyle factors may also be collected.

Physical Examination

A detailed physical examination is performed to assess the spine’s range of motion, muscle strength, and nerve function. This helps to identify specific areas of tenderness, pain, or weakness and to observe any postural abnormalities.

Imaging Studies

X-rays are often used to assess bone structures and alignment, while MRIs provide detailed images of soft tissues, including discs and nerves. CT scans may also be used to obtain cross-sectional images of the spine, offering insights into the condition of the spinal bones and surrounding tissues.

Nerve Function Tests

In cases where nerve involvement is suspected, EMG (Electromyography) and nerve conduction studies may be conducted. These tests measure the electrical activity of muscles and the speed of nerve signal transmission, aiding in the detection of nerve damage or compression.

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Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatments play a role in managing spine conditions, focusing on pain relief, improving function, and preventing further complications.

Activity and Lifestyle Modifications

In the early stages of spine pain, the spine specialist may suggest modifying or avoiding any activities that exacerbate symptoms. Ergonomic changes at work and home can also help reduce strain on the spine.

Bracing or Support Devices

In certain cases, braces or collars may be used to support the spine and limit movement, allowing the affected area to heal.

Physical Therapy

Customised exercise programs are developed to strengthen back and neck muscles, improve flexibility, and correct posture. Physical therapy also includes techniques to alleviate pain and enhance mobility.

Pain Medications

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants are often prescribed for pain relief and reducing inflammation. In some cases, neuropathic pain medications are used for nerve-related pain.

Surgical Treatment Options

In certain cases where non-surgical treatments are insufficient, surgical options may be considered. The choice of surgical procedure depends on the specific spine condition, its severity, the patient’s overall health, and the expected outcome of the surgery.

  • Endoscopic Surgery
    This is a less invasive option usually used for less severe spinal conditions. It involves smaller incisions and typically results in quicker recovery times.
  • Microdiscectomy
    This minimally invasive surgery involves the removal of a small portion of the herniated disc to relieve nerve pressure. It is often effective for disc herniation causing nerve compression.
  • Laminectomy
    This procedure involves removing a portion of the vertebra (lamina) to create more space in the spinal canal. It relieves pressure on the nerves and is commonly used in spinal stenosis.
  • Spinal Fusion
    In cases of spinal instability or severe degeneration, spinal fusion surgery fuses two or more vertebrae to stabilise the spine and reduce pain.
  • Artificial Disc Replacement
    In cases of disc degeneration, an artificial disc may be implanted to replace the damaged disc. This helps maintain spine mobility.
  • Foraminotomy
    This surgery enlarges the openings where nerve roots exit the spinal canal. It is used in conditions like foraminal stenosis to alleviate nerve compression.

Preventing Spine Complications

Several measures can reduce the risk of developing or exacerbating spine conditions.

  • Regular Exercise and Physical Activity: Engaging in activities that strengthen back and core muscles can help support the spine. Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga are beneficial.
  • Maintaining Proper Posture: Maintaining a good posture while sitting, standing, and lifting objects can help prevent undue strain on the spine.
  • Ergonomic Modifications to Reduce Stress on the Spine: Setting up an ergonomic workspace, including supportive seating and proper positioning of computer screens and keyboards, reduces stress on the spine during prolonged work periods.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the load on the spine, decreasing the risk of degenerative spine conditions.
  • Avoiding Tobacco and Smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of spinal degeneration and slower healing. Quitting smoking can improve spinal health.

Dr Poh Seng Yew



MMED (Ortho)


With over 20 years of experience, Dr Poh Seng Yew is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery, sports medicine, and trauma surgery.

  • Former Director of Sports Service, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital
  • Clinical Hip and Sports Medicine Fellow, Orthopädische Chirurgie München (OCM), Germany
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, FRCSEd (Orthopaedic Surgery)
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), National University of Singapore
  • Member, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCSEd)
  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), National University of Singapore



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Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
Singapore 329563

Weekdays: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturdays: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Sundays and Public Holidays: Closed

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    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
    38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
    Singapore 329563

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Can Spine Pain Go Away on Its Own?

    While some mild spine pain may resolve with self-care and rest, persistent or worsening pain warrants a medical intervention. Reach out to our spine specialist for prompt attention and personalised care.

    What Happens If Spine Pain Is Left Untreated?

    Ignoring spine pain can lead to worsening symptoms and potentially chronic conditions. Early evaluation by a spine specialist can help prevent such complications, through effective treatment options and management strategies.

    When Should I Consider Spine Surgery?

    Surgery is considered when conservative treatments have not provided relief, or if the condition is severe and affects quality of life. A discussion with the spine specialist can determine if surgery is the appropriate course of action for you.

    What Should I Avoid When I Have Spine Pain?

    Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain, such as heavy lifting, prolonged sitting, or poor posture. A spine specialist can offer tailored guidance on activities to avoid and suggest appropriate ergonomic adjustments.

    How Long Does It Take to Recover from Spine Pain?

    Recovery time varies depending on the condition and treatment. Some conditions require longer periods of physical therapy and lifestyle adjustments, while others may resolve more quickly with proper care.