Michael J. DePalma, MD

Michael J. DePalma, MD

Dr. DePalma specializes in interventional spine care.

Dr. DePalma, MD offers these procedures:

  • Interventional spine care
  • Neuropathies and nerve pain
  • Physiatry
  • Physical therapy


Dr. DePalma has authored or co-authored over 80 articles and abstracts in peer-reviewed journals, eight textbook chapters, and has edited a 49-chapter textbook on interventional spine care, comprised of contributions from international experts in the fields of spine biomechanics, diagnostic imaging, electrodiagnostic medicine, and diagnostic and therapeutic spinal procedures. He volunteers or has served on multiple professional committees for the North American Spine Society, International Spine Intervention Society, American Board of Interventional Spine Specialists, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Physiatric Association of Spine, Sports, and Occupational Rehabilitation, and the American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. DePalma is a reviewer for six leading peer-reviewed journals within his specialty and one online patient education website (www.spineuniverse.com). He serves as director of the Virginia I-Spine Physicians Interventional Spine Care fellowship program, chairman and director of research of Virginia Spine Research Institute, and medical director of the VCU Athletic Training program. Dr. DePalma has been an invited lecturer to over 80 regional, national, or international presentations and has been featured in regional newspaper segments. Dr. DePalma is an active spine researcher and pioneer involved as an investigator in clinical trials evaluating new agents that help repair or restore painfully degenerated intervertebral discs in the low back. He was the lead investigator at VCU in the largest prospective study of an innovative non-surgical technique to stabilize painful pelvic fractures in osteoporotic patients. His research was recently recognized by the International Spine Intervention Society as the “Best Clinical Paper” at their 17th Annual Scientific Meeting in Toronto, CA. He is also the principal investigator on a trial evaluating painful lumbar discs, and a separate study of medication injected into painfully arthritic joints of the back to help reverse the arthritic changes. These are just a few examples of how Dr. DePalma contributes to advances and innovation in diagnosing and treating painful spinal disorders.


Dr. DePalma is president and medical director of Virginia I-Spine Physicians where he practices interventional spine care. Dr. DePalma has been named by his peer physicians as a “Top Doc” in “Richmond” magazine in April 2008 and 2011. This esteemed recognition places him within the top 10% of recognized physicians in this area.


Dr. DePalma earned his Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience with magna cum laude honors, and Certificate in Foundations of Medicine from the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh in 1995. After earning his M.D. cum laude from the Medical University of South Carolina in 1999, Dr. DePalma completed his residency in the highly-regarded Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at The Ohio State University Medical Center. He was appointed as academic chief resident during his senior year of residency training during which he played a vital role in recruiting internationally-recognized spine experts as guest speakers. Dr. DePalma completed his specialized Interventional Spine Care training during a fellowship year at the internationally-renowned Penn Spine Center of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. Dr. DePalma is board certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.


Dr. DePalma is originally from South Carolina. He enjoys spending time with his son, daughter, wife, and two dogs. He enjoys playing sports, watching football and soccer, bike riding, and traveling.


I have been a patient of Dr. DePalma since 2010 for spinal care, and have been to your facility on 6 occasions. Each visit I was treated exceptionally well without any stress. The nursing staff were all passionate about their job and helpful in every way. I remain duly impressed! The space could be larger for patients privacy. Noticed a lot of traffic of both staff and patients. Please recognize Dr. DePalma. Katherine S. Sep 2019
The best doctor is Dr. DePalma for this particular treatment. Excellent knowledge and bedside manner. Please recognize Dr. DePalma. D.C. Dec 2018
Everyone was excellent. I came from another experience with a doctor that did not explain what was being done, or what I might fee. Also, I felt there were problems with the procedure. Dr. DePalma heard me and informed me through the whole process. He went above and beyond. I did great, and am thankful to all. Please recognize Dr. Depalma. Melody D. Dec 2018
Best nurses ever, and so courteous. Dr. DePalma is awesome. Please recognize Nurse Shawn and discharge nurse. Rhonda H Aug 2018
The best possible doctor for the procedures is Dr. DePalma and assistants. Dr. DePalma’s demeanor and knowledge is unsurpassed. There is no other medical campus as this with Dr. DePalma in charge. Thank you for the best. Wilhelmina C Jun 2018
I recommend Dr. Depalma for anyone who wants a good spine doctor. He is vary caring and explains all the steps and asked me questions to make sure I was fine. His crew was excellent as well! Maria D Feb 2018


2019 MEDRVA Patient Choice Award

2019 MEDRVA Patient Choice Award

2020 MEDRVA Patient Choice Award

2020 MEDRVA Patient Choice Award


Virginia iSpine Physicians, P.C.
12874 Patterson Avenue
Suite A
Phone: (804) 330-0303
Fax: (804) 327-1677


Dr. DePalma on CBS Good Morning

Dr. DePalma talks about a few causes of back pain, as well as new breakthroughs in back pain treatment on CBS 6.

CBS 6: Good morning. Welcome back. Do you remember the story we told you about last week of this Richmond spine specialist who is making breakthroughs in spinal surgery? Dr. Michael DePalma was recently recognized on the national show CBS Sunday Morning right here on CBS 6 and he’s here with us today in the studio to talk to us about this revolutionary treatment. Great to see you doctor. Thanks for coming in so early Dr. DePalma. Tell me, 8 out of 10 Americans at some point will be suffering from back pain. Why is it so common?

Dr. DePalma: That’s correct. Eight out of 10 people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lifetime. Many of those folks are developing recurrent or chronic ongoing back pain. And the most common reason for that is injury of a disc in our low back. Now the disc itself can become injured for a variety of reasons: while lifting, bending, or twisting it into an injury. And then the injury doesn’t heal like it would for, say, a cut on the arm or something. So that not healing injury within the disc becomes chronically painful. Blood vessels grow into it, nerve endings follow the blood vessels, and then we have a setup for both degeneration and chronic back pain.

CBS 6: Can this be hereditary or is it really preventable, where you said lifting boxes the wrong way or couches the wrong way.

Dr. DePalma: That’s a good question. There are three broad areas that play, three broad factors that play, a role in degenerative changes in the spine; genetics, environmental and biomechanical with all the lifting for example. Genetics does play a role. We’re not sure how to read what hand we’re dealt with individuals but that does play in the development of degenerative changes in the spine.

CBS 6: Tell us about these four studies you were a part of in the paper that was just released yesterday that’s really gaining some national attention.

Dr. DePalma: The paper was a review paper manuscript published last month by North American Spine Society reviewing the experimental technologies that are labeled as biologic intradiscal treatments. Biologic meaning the objective is to initiate repair of the disc, of that non-healing wound in the disc. And the different technologies take the shape of injecting growth factors, which are proteins, in the disc, which stimulate repair. Injecting cells, be it stem cells or actual disc cells, into the disc to replenish those cells. And then another technology is tissue scaffolding, which is injected in the disc to try to seal the tear and initiate healing of the wound by setting up a scaffold. So those cells can proliferate in three different dimensions.

CBS 6: Doctor, if somebody is suffering from back pain what’s your advice for them?

Dr. DePalma: Depends on where they are in the spectrum. If the back pain is incapacitating we might need to intervene pretty quickly with something to reduce their back pain and let them progress further in physical therapy and go about their business. If they’re able to function and it’s more episodic back pain and activity dependent, then we’ve got to address the activities that are causing the symptoms, adjust their biomechanics, maybe look at their ergonomic variables, correcting things in the workplace setting that might be bothering them. So it kind of depends on how incapacitation the symptoms are at that moment.

CBS 6: Richmond Spin Specialist Dr. Michael DePalma thank you so much for the information. We appreciate it.

What is interventional spine care?

What is an interventional spine therapist? What do they do? Dr. Michael DePalma answers these questions, and also provides insight into common back pain symptoms.

Julie: Hi, I am Julie Bragg here with Dr. Michael DePalma and Dr. DePalma, you are an interventional spine specialist. What does that mean?

Dr. DePalma:Interventional spine care is a subspecialty in which specially trained physicians diagnose and treat a wide array of painful spinal disorders using things like physical therapy, certain medications, and when appropriate, x-ray guided non-operative techniques.

Julie: What are some of the common symptoms that patients have and then they come to see you for help?

Dr. DePalma: 80% of individuals are affected by low back pain at some point in their lifetime, and the most common source of low back pain is injury of a disk.  Advances in technology have allowed us to more accurately diagnose the source of symptoms so that we can more definitively treat them and get the patient back to a better quality of life more quickly.