Dr. David McCord is a native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky where he graduated as Valedictorian.  He completed his undergraduate training at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee summa cum laude before attending medical school at Cornell University in New York City.  He did a surgical internship and orthopaedic residency at Duke University, finishing as Chief Resident his last year.  Dr. McCord continued his training in Baltimore, Maryland with world-renowned spine surgeon, Dr. Paul McAfee, formally of Johns Hopkins University.


Dr. McCord is board certified and has practiced as a Failed Back Surgery Specialist in Nashville, Tennessee since 1991, pioneering new hardware, techniques, and diagnostics.  Over half of his patients have had at least one failed back surgery.



Up to a 40% failure rate for back surgery was unacceptable to Dr. McCord, and in 1991 he took on the challenge of improving outcomes.  Specializing in the most difficult cases of failed back surgery, he found several key factors that reduced the failure rate of back surgery from up to 40% to a mere 3%.

Improved Hardware

Disc cages for treating failed back surgery syndrome

Instead of trimming away damaged discs as a temporary band-aid, Dr. McCord sought to rebuild and restore disc function with carbon-fiber disc cages, which he co-developed in the 1990s.  Acting as shock absorbers and restoring the curve of the spine, the cages enabled patients to be more active and flexible, usually holding strong for the patient's life.

Improved Techniques

Laparoscopic Back Surgery Reduces Recovery Time

In the past, back surgery could take months to recover from, with complications and possibly being worse off. Dr. McCord was the first to pioneer some minimally invasive laparoscopic tools for small incision surgery.  Through continual improvements and upgrades in the surgical process, his patients typically recover quickly, walk soon after surgery, and get back to work in as little as three weeks.

Improved Diagnostics

Weight-bearing Upright MRI Reveals Pressure Pain

Dr. McCord realized some patients were turned down by other doctors who could not find the source of pain in the spine. Traditional MRI machines require the patient to lie down in a resting, recumbent position. Without gravity's pressure on the injured area, sometimes issues are missed. Without diagnostic confirmation, surgeons may think patients' pain is "all in their head."

Dr. McCord was the first to bring open, upright MRI imagery to the southeast, increasing diagnostic accuracy for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome patients.

Improved Bedside Manner

Bedside Manner Improves Back Surgery Outcomes

The worst part of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is the emotional toll it takes on patients and their families. Many times pain management becomes a way of life with legal drug addition, leading to a hopeless, sedentary, drugged-up existence. Some patients even attempt to end their lives.  Dr. McCord works to understand how back and neck pain affects marriages, employment, finances, and family involvement.

When other doctors turn down patients because they are afraid of the liability, Dr. McCord offers hope when they hear the words, “I won’t give up.  I’ll find out what’s wrong.”