One of the leading surgeons in the country for the treatment of spinal disorders, Dr. Roth is a founder of New Jersey Brain and Spine. He also serves as chair of the Hackensack University Medical Center Neurosurgery Department and is the founding chair of neurosurgery at the Seton Hall School of Medicine. Dr. Roth is the author of two books and numerous articles.
With a focus on the promotion of health rather than the treatment of disease, Dr. Roth embraces a holistic approach to back, neck, arm, and leg pain. His treatment recommendations are based on an understanding of each patient’s activities and personal goals.
Q: What is your approach when you meet a new patient?
Dr. Roth: I look at each patient as a puzzle: they have a problem they want me to solve and I try to solve it from their perspective. I believe that if I approach their care by prioritizing their needs, I’ll do the right thing.
My job is to educate the patient, and the patient’s job is to decide the treatment approach. I think the key is to listen to patients, speak honestly about their care, and let them know that they’ll have plenty of time to think about what we discuss afterwards. I never tell patients that they need surgery that’s not appropriate. Instead, I might suggest that they might want to consider surgery, but only if the pros outweigh the cons.
Q: How would you describe your treatment philosophy?
Dr. Roth: As a resident, I was obsessed with honing my craft, finding ways to accomplish a task by disrupting as little normal tissue as possible. As I evolved, I became more holistic in my approach to pain related to the spine.
With back or neck pain, the pain generator is not always obvious, so, in addition to MRIs and CAT scans, I use some interesting techniques. I consider how the patient’s spine is functioning through its range of motion. I also look for inflammation by tracking by tracking bone turnover. Combining these studies with MRIs helps me find the source of the pain.
Most of the time, we can treat the pain without surgery.
Q: What motivated you to write books on pain and treatment?
Dr. Roth: Due to a personal experience with back pain, I became very interested in pain management solutions. In addition to strengthening the back with exercise, I discovered by accident the benefits of strengthening “the hidden core.” People don’t know how to exercise this part of their body, but when they do, it can be really effective at eliminating back and neck pain. My first book is about that.
My second book is on neurobehavioral cognitive therapy: harnessing the synergy between brain and body. Among the techniques are diversion, relaxation, and reframing. For example, framing a medical condition in terms of narratives, which helps patients contextualize it. This helps change the brain’s judicial function, which can help reduce pain.
Q: To what do you attribute the excellent reputation of North Jersey Brain & Spine Center?
Dr. Roth: When I talk with people in the community, whenever one of my partners is mentioned, it’s always positive. I believe that’s because each doctor is carefully selected, and each has exceeded my expectations.
In addition to the excellence of our neurosurgeons, we’ve built the practice on a model of diversified sub-specialization. There is no incentive for a partner to keep a patient if another doctor in the practice could better serve them. If someone comes to me to remove their brain tumor, I’ll say, “No, my partner is the better fit, because this type of treatment is all he focuses on.” Then, I’ll refer the patient to that partner.
Our patients can rest assured that they’ll receive treatment from the physician with the most experience, training, and skill that aligns with their unique needs and characteristics.
Dr. Roth Quick Facts:
• Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
• Residency: Tufts University
• Board-certified by the American Board of Neurosurgery
“I never tell patients that they need surgery that’s not appropriate. Instead, I might suggest that they might want to consider surgery, but only if the pros outweigh the cons.”