Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD's portrait
Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery
Rush University Medical School
Chicago, IL

About Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD

Dr. Richard G. Fessler is a Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery at Rush University Medical School in Chicago.

Dr. Fessler completed his Medical Doctorate with honors, and he did surgical and neurosurgical residencies at the University of Chicago. In addition to surgical training, Dr. Fessler completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Pharmacology and Physiology, and a Masters of Science in Psychology. Continuing education after earning doctoral degrees, Dr. Fessler held research fellowships at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Neurological Surgery and Psychiatry. The Chicago Surgical Society honored Dr. Fessler with the Excellence in Surgical Research award.

Dr. Fessler has made significant contributions to endoscopic and microendoscopic surgical developments. The Kambin Foundation awarded Dr. Fessler the annual research award for his research in the field of minimal invasive spinal surgery.

Dr. Fessler is a member of the International Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, Lumbar Spine Study Group, Neurosurgical Society of America, and Selby Spine Society.

A prolific author, Dr. Fessler has written books and contributed book chapters to medical texts. He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented numerous papers at peer-reviewed symposiums. He is frequently invited for speaking engagements and visiting professorships worldwide.


Articles Written by Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treated Using Minimally Invasive Microsurgical Techniques

Read this article from spine surgeons on microendoscopic laminectomy, a minimally invasive spine surgery option for spinal stenosis. Should you have it, or open spine surgery?

Common Terms for Degenerative Disc Disease

Dr. Richard Fessler, a neurosurgeon, reviews several common terms you may hear your doctor use when talking about degenerative disc disease. This short video will help you be an informed patient and more fully understand your condition.

Lumbar Discectomy: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

This article gives a step-by-step overview of what happens during lumbar microdiscectomy surgery, which is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure used to treat herniated discs.

Lumbar Discectomy: Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Back pain and sciatica may result from a herniated disc. Learn what happens when a disc ruptures and what non-surgical and surgical treatments are available.

Pre-operative Steps to Spinal Surgery

Most patients who undergo spinal surgery have weeks or months to prepare for their procedure. It's important to learn as much as you can about your spine surgery. In this article, you will learn about the pre-operative steps to help you prepare for your procedure.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: Lumbar Discectomy

Post operative care and what to expect at home following a Micro Endoscopic Discectomy (MED) procedure for treatment of a herniated disc.

Vertebroplasty: A Case Study

Compression fractures (osteoporosis) may be treated using a procedure called vertebroplasty. This article helps patients to know what to expect and includes a case study.

Low Back Pain Diagnosis

5 steps to a lower back pain diagnosis: What will the doctor do to find out what's causing your pain? Article written and reviewed by spine surgeons.

Lower Back Pain Treatments

Lower back pain treatments overview from a spine specialist: medications, physical therapy, and spine surgery. What will help with your low back pain?

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-linolenic acid is the parent substance of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which helps to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting, heart rate, blood vessel dilation, immune response, and the break down of fats.

Video: Microendoscopic Spinal Surgery

Dr. Richard Fessler, a pioneer in minimally invasive spine surgery, explains the various techniques. He discusses microendoscopic spinal surgery in this video.

Case Studies Presented by Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD

Severe Back Pain with Radiation Around Right Abdomen

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD
Spine case from Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon: The patient is a 39-year-old male who presents with severe back pain that radiates around right abdomen to just below the navel.

Left C5-C6 Foraminal Disc Herniation

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD
The patient is a male over 60 years of age, who reports that he had an episode of extremely severe right arm and hand pain beginning approximately 3 months ago. That pain was initially treated with a collar and pain medication but, with no relief. Epidural injections were then attempted and did provide temporary pain relief.

Neck Pain with Radiation into Right Radial Arm

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

How would you treat this? The patient is a 43-year-old female with neck pain with radiation into the right radial arm, thumb and first finger, and ulnar forearm into small and ring finger. Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD, presents this spine surgery case.

Foreign Diplomat with Neck Pain and Right C6 and C7 Radiculopathies

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

A 59-year-old male who is a foreign diplomat presents with neck pain and right C6 and C7 radiculopathies.

T5 Burst Fracture from MVA

Can the patient ever return to farming?
Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

The patient is a 52-year-old female. Six months before presenting in the clinic, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA). She now can’t work her farm because of her back pain.

Lumbar Degenerative Scoliosis in a 69-year-old Female

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

The patient is a 69-year-old Asian female who presents with progressively more severe low back pain.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease in a Basketball Player

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

This young man's chances for a professional career as a basketball player is jeopardized by low back pain.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease in a 37-year-old Male

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

The patient previously underwent lumbar microendoscopic discectomy two years ago and was doing very well until he fell down a flight of stairs.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: History of Low Back Pain

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

The patient is a 62-year-old make with a three year history of low back pain that prevents normal activities. Although leg pain is minimal, it is increased with activity and decreases when lying down

Constant, Nonradiating Low Back Pain

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

Although the patient has reported intermittent low back pain during years past, now her pain has become constant but does not radiate.

Competitive Equestrienne: Incapacitating Low Back Pain

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

Case about a 32-year-old female equestrienne with incapacitating low back pain unresponsive to non-surgical care.

Cervical Radiculopathy: Classic Case?

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

The patient is a 45-year-old male with a 3-month history of neck, shoulder and arm pain.

Cervical Degenerative Disease

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

This 67-year-old male presented with neck pain with mild radiation into both shoulders. He had slight difficulty with tandem gait.

Gait and Balance Difficulties in a 76-Year-old Male

Presented by: R. Fessler MD, PhD

The patient is a 76-year-old male whose gait is broad-based and unsteady; he cannot tandem walk.

Articles Reviewed by Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD

Charité Artificial Disc and Degenerative Disc Disease

Although conventional treatment for a severely degenerated disc is spinal fusion, artificial disc replacement is becoming an alternative option.

Are You Ready for Surgery?

You need to prepare for surgery just as much as your surgeon does. You are about to enter one of the most important athletic contests of your life. Dr. McLaughlin explores how you can prepare for your spinal surgery.

Lipase (Pancreatic Lipase)

Lipase helps your body digest fats to be used more easily. Lipase can be used to treat digestive problems.


Licorice is an herbal remedy known to cleanse the colon, relieve bronchitis (increase fluidity of mucus), kill staph and strep infections, control Candida, relieve rheumatism and arthritis (inflammatory disorders), and promote adrenal gland function.


Goldenseal as an herbal remedy cleanses the body, counters infection, and strengthens the immune system.

Grape Seed Extract

Grape Seed Extract is an herbal remedy known to reduce swelling, improve blood circulation, protect the body physically and mentally.


Feverfew is an herbal remedy that can help alleviate migraine, stimulate appetite,increase the fluidity of lung and bronchial mucus, pain, muscle tension, menstrual difficulties, and rheumatic diseases.


Comfrey is an herbal remedy that can be used to help with bedsores, stings, bruises, burns, dry skin, dermatitis, leg ulcers, rashes, and sunburn.


Black Cohosh is an herbal remedy that can help in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and is helpful for circulatory and women's health.


Bilberry is an herbal remedy that can be used to improve circulation,treat hemmorroids and varicose veins and can help control blood clots.


Sulfur is a naturally occurring mineral used to treat red, itchy rashes and also helps to protect your body from toxins in the environment. People with arthritis may find pain relief from sulfur baths.


Phosphorus helps the body to utilize vitamins and functions to convert food into energy.


Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that you need to get from food because your body cannot make enough of it. Learn all about phenylalanine, its uses, and what foods provide it for you.


Iron delivers oxygen from the lungs to all parts of your body, helps your muscles work, and helps break down substances that can cause damage to your body. If you don't get enough iron you can get anemia.

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil is an omega-3 fatty acid. It is an essential fatty acid in the breakdown of fats and in making brain and nerve tissue. Learn all about flaxseed oil and how a supplement could benefit you.

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Author's Statement

I, or an immediate family member, have a financial interest(s) or affiliation(s) with the following commercial companies whose products and / or services may be mentioned in the materials I have authored, edited or reviewed for presentation on Vertical Health, LLC’s websites.

Disclosed Relationships

Grants/Research Support
Medtronic, Stryker