About World Spine Care

World Spine Care (WSC) is a multinational not-for-profit, charitable organization. It is a collection of three healthcare-focused charitable entities registered in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. World Spine Care was founded in 2008 by Scott Haldeman MD, PhD, DC, a leading figure in the assessment and treatment of spinal conditions. It was launched to fill the profound gap in the evidence-based treatment of musculoskeletal and especially spinal conditions found in under-serviced areas around the world.

Our Mission

To improve lives in underserved communities through sustainable, integrated, evidence-based, spine care.

Our Vision

A world in which everyone has access to the highest quality spine care possible.

Our Values


Empower local governments and communities to assume control of their spine care programs in collaboration with WSC.

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Entrenching sustainable clinics in the communities in which we work is a fundamental principle of World Spine Care. While developing a model of care for spinal conditions is a primary focus of World Spine Care, it is equally important to WSC that our clinics are embedded in the local health care system, creating not only a sustainable model of care, but also one that can be expanded throughout the country, with full cooperation of the host government.

The ongoing sustainability of World Spine Care is realized through:

1. Health worker training: for the on-site training of local front-line healthcare practitioners in the screening, assessment, and emergency management of non-surgical spinal conditions.

2. Medical doctor training: in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal disorders

3. Train-the-Trainer program: aimed at enabling practitioners to pass on their skills to others to expand present levels of care and, over time, to begin to address the chronic issue of health worker shortages.

4. Community education: on the risk factors for spinal conditions and early stage treatment to avoid the risk of chronicity, which will reduce the impact of spinal conditions on the communities.

5. Academic scholarships: for qualified residents to attain professional credentials in primary spine care through supported educational programs. These opportunities are conditional on a commitment to return to supervise the WSC clinics.

6. Fellowships: in advanced spine surgery and appropriate medical specialties: WSC will facilitate these advanced training programs at major spine centers.

7. Long-term partnership: with local Ministries of Health and applicable regional health system managers to establish the structures and processes required to plan, implement, and deliver spinal and musculoskeletal care on a permanent basis. The host Ministries of Health will eventually take over ownership, management, expansion, and sustainability of each project with continued WSC support.

Evidence Based

Emphasis is on evidenced-based, integrative care.

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Our evidence-based approach includes:

1. Evidence-based examination, treatment and education
2. Universal documentation – the WSC documentation has been developed based on evidence-based care and has been created to address several unique issues.

• Each patient may be seen by multiple practitioners. The documentation must facilitate seamless continuity of care for the patient. Each patient, once trained in the documentation will be able to quickly learn all the important information about the patient, how they have been treated and what was the outcome to treatment.

• Each clinic must use the same documentation. This will facilitate comparison of outcomes, patient demographics, cultural differences and statistics.

• Each clinic is a research site. The data collected from patients is used on ongoing clinical research including treatment outcomes and other epidemiological studies. Data collection and data storage is consistent across all the WSC clinics.


Educating the community and local health professionals.

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World Spine Care is building local capacity at each of our clinics in the following ways:

1. Patient education – patients are education on prevention and management of spinal and musculoskeletal disorders, including physical and psychosocial risk factors.

2. Community education – several community programs have been developed/implemented by WSC including the Straighten Up program, scoliosis screening and yoga teacher training program. Local representatives are trained to deliver these programs in the local language and cultural context.

3. Local health care workers education – Education programs are implemented to help increase the knowledge and skills in the evaluation and management of spinal disorders.

• Presentations – on spinal and health related issues
• Workshops – one-da workshops on various spine related topics.
• Conferences – first spine care conference was held in Mahalapye, Botswana in 2013 that brought experts from the fields of surgery, conservative care, radiology, epidemiology, and evidence-based care.

4. Student scholarships – WSC offers full scholarships through participating institutions for local students to train as spine care specialists and eventually take over the management of the spine care projects.


Add to the body of knowledge of spine care.


Bring access to spine care, without barriers, to under served communities around the world.


Sensitive to the local customs and culture of the communities in which we operate.

The Global Burden of Spinal Disorders

Many people commonly work and play in cramped, awkward, or slouched postures and perform repetitive actions and heavy work. The resulting pandemic of chronic spinal conditions compromises the quality of our lives. Every year spinal conditions and back pain result in the loss of billions of dollars worldwide through health care costs, diminished individual income and loss of productivity. When a family member cannot work or provide support due to back, neck or other musculoskeletal disability, the result may be a catastrophic chain of events for a family struggling to eke out an existence. The Global Burden of Disease report was published in Lancet in December 2012 (Murray et al, Vos et al, 2012). In this report, the following information regarding spinal conditions was reported:

  • Low back pain is the leading cause of disability.
  • Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability.
  • Low back pain and neck pain affect 1 billion people worldwide.
  • Spinal pain contributes more to the global burden of disease (including death and disability) than: HIV, diabetes, malaria, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, breast and lung cancer combined, traffic injuries, and lower respiratory infections.

By far the most common spinal conditions are back and neck pain, an affliction that affects the majority of the adult population in both the developed and developing nations of the world. Over the course of a year, as much as 72% of the population worldwide will have a bout of back pain. At any given time, the percentage of people with back pain has been identified as high as 59% (Louw et al, 2007), the implications of which can be particularly devastating for populations that depend on manual labor for survival.

Populations in under-serviced areas of the world, especially rural populations, often have limited access to conventional healthcare resources to care for spinal conditions. Most are currently treated by traditional healers or in hospitals where they receive pain/anti-inflammatory medication only. There are no comprehensive protocols or models of care available to enable health care workers to treat the spectrum of spinal conditions common in underserviced areas of the world. The result is that individuals have to contend with pain and disability which affects their daily lives in many cases making manual tasks impossible, thus reducing their productivity and even their ability to maintain their standard of life.

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