Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD's portrait
Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD
Professor of Neurosurgery
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

Low and Lower Back Pain Center

Low and lower back pain can vary from dull pain that develops gradually to sudden, sharp or persistent pain felt below the waist.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Video: Surgery for Degenerative Disc Disease

Dr. Richard Fessler, a neurosurgeon and proponent of minimally invasive surgery, discusses the various types of surgeries.

Pre-operative Steps to Spinal Surgery

In this article, you will learn about the pre-operative steps to help you prepare for your procedure.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Stinging Nettle

It has been used for hundreds of years to treat eczema, gout, anemia, arthritis, and rheumatism (joint inflammation and pain).

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is used to treat psoriasis. This herb may also protect the liver from acetaminophen, a non-aspirin pain reliever.


Licorice derivatives have been used to cleanse the colon, relieve bronchitis (increase fluidity of mucus), kill staph and strep infections and control candida.

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract is an herbal preparation made from grapes. The extract contains oligomeric proanthocyandin (OPC), an important antioxidant.


Goldenseal may cleanse the body, counter infection, and strengthen the immune system. It may help to relieve cold/flu symptoms (sore throat, earaches),and improve digestion.


Feverfew has a wide variety of uses. For starters, it is an herbal remedy that can help alleviate migraine.


Comfrey is used to treat the following: bedsores, stings, bruises, burns, dry skin, dermatitis, leg ulcers, rashes, and sunburn.

Chamomile: German and Roman (English)

Chamomile stimulates appetite, is used as a nerve tonic, and to aid sleep. It may be used as a mouthwash for minor mouth and gum infections.


Supplemental L-tyrosine has been used for stress reduction, and may be helpful in treating chronic fatigue and narcolepsy.


Sulfur is an acid-forming mineral. It is used to treat diaper rash, eczema, itchy rashes, and hemorrhoids.


Although phosphorus is found abundantly in food sources, deficiencies can occur. Symptoms of phosphorus deficiency include weight loss, anemia, bone pain and fatigue.


Phenylalanine may be used to treat depression, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, and cancer (melanoma, tumor growth).

Lipase (Pancreatic Lipase)

Pancreatic lipase may be beneficial in treating autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and some food allergies.


Iron, a common metallic element, is important to the body's production of hemoglobin and myoglobin.

Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil may reduce the pain, inflammation and swelling of arthritis. It may also lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels

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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

Research Support
Consultant/Independent Contractor
Medtronic, Stryker