By: 19 July 2022
Surgeon in Focus – Nick Jain

Nick Jain is a fellowship-trained, board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon whose compassionate, individualised approach to adult degenerative spinal care comes through in his minimally invasive techniques and motion preservation surgeries.

Actively involved in clinical research and emerging technologies, he is skilled in leading-edge, minimally invasive treatments like basivertebral nerve ablation (Intracept), which is often a game-changer for chronic low back pain sufferers. He recently joined the team at DISC Sports & Spine Center in the USA.


SSN: What drove you to choose surgery as a career – and orthopaedic surgery in particular?

NJ: Medicine is constantly evolving. During my training, I knew that I did not want to be involved in making people live longer, but I wanted to dedicate my life to making people live BETTER. In that sense, improving function, decreasing pain, and getting people back to the activities that give them enjoyment and happiness were paramount. Because of that, orthopaedic surgery was a natural fit as that is the sole focus of the profession.


SSN: It is clear that the healthcare industry has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, what has been the greatest impact for you within the orthopaedic industry?

NJ: The pandemic has really put life in perspective for many patients. People have suddenly realised that life is short, and living life to the fullest, pursuing their passions, hobbies and dreams, and chasing those precious few moments with their loved ones are more important than materialistic objects and titles. Because of this shift in our national psyche, people are realising that their health and physical function are ever-more important. This has led to an increase in surgical volume in the orthopaedic and spine world, as people are prioritising their health and physical function over other obligations in order to live fuller lives.


SSN: What’s the best part of your job?

NJ: A thank you from a patient’s family member telling me how much better THEIR life is after surgery on a patient.


SSN: … and the worst?

NJ: Aside from paperwork, bureaucracy and insurance companies denying essential treatment for patients – telling a patient and their family about an adverse outcome and failing to help them improve their quality of life.


SSN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

NJ: Having a previously healthy patient walk in, acutely myelopathic, barely able to stand upright or walk, and being able to perform surgery and have them walk out of the hospital.


SSN: Are you currently involved in any research or work with emerging technologies?

NJ: Absolutely. I am one of the earliest adopters on the West Coast of a novel technology called basivertebral nerve ablation (Intracept) –- a game changer for people with chronic low back pain due to degenerative disc disease and vertebrogenic low back pain — and I educate physicians across the country on this new technique. Additionally, I actively pursue clinical research on questions important to my patients and surgeons alike, and I am engaged with professional societies on committees such as the North American Spine Society, collaborating with spine surgeons throughout the world specifically on topics such as robotic spine surgery, navigation and minimally invasive spine surgery.


SSN: Please can you tell us more about the research and what it could mean to patient experience and outcomes?

NJ: My research interests have always been clinical outcomes, data research and new technologies. All of the research projects that I have been involved with are related to these topics – whether it be robotic spine surgery outcomes, the effects of Covid-19 on clinical practice, or how spine surgery affects one’s golfing ability – my patients are the crux of my clinical research interest.


SSN: You recently joined DISC Sports & Spine Centre, how do you plan to redefine what’s possible in pain management within clinical practice and spinal surgery?

NJ: My goal is to continue to push the envelope on minimally invasive spine care and provide patients with the least invasive options that may improve their quality of life.


SSN: Are you planning to attend any orthopaedic or spinal events this year?

NJ: NASS annual meeting 2022 and the Society of minimally invasive surgeons meeting 2022.


SSN: If you weren’t a spinal surgeon, what would you be?

NJ: Car magazine reviewer and test driver or travel blogger. Entrepreneur.


SSN: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?

NJ: Recycle more. Have more fun. Take risks. Buy Tesla and Apple stock.


SSN: If you were Health Minister for the day, what changes would you implement?

NJ: Transparent healthcare pricing with a free-market approach like all other industries with a social safety net. Or a single-payor healthcare system. I don’t know the right answer to this question and vacillate from one extreme to the next. If there was a single, clear solution, I think we’d have it in place already.


SSN: Away from the clinic and operating theatre – what do you do to relax?

NJ: I love to spend time with family and friends sitting outside or going on a hike. Traveling, eating, drinking, snowboarding and golfing are up there as well.


SSN: How do you think the future looks in the field of orthopaedic and spinal surgery and what are your predictions for 2023 and the next decade?

NJ: For 2023, I think we will see an increase in lumbar disc arthroplasty as technology improves, as well as advances in endoscopic spine surgery and basivertebral nerve ablation, as the push for non-fusion surgery for neuroforaminal stenosis, lumbar degenerative disc disease and vertebrogenic low back pain continues. Over the next decade, I believe regenerative medicine will gain strong traction with improved clinical outcomes at reversing the or halting the natural degenerative cascade.