About Joel S. Saal, MD

Board Certified Physiatrist in Redwood City and Santa Clara, CA

Joel Saal, MD

Joel S. Saal, MD

Joel S. Saal, MD, is a board-certified physiatrist at SOAR Spine and Orthopedics in Santa Clara and Redwood City, California. 

Dr. Saal received his Bachelor of Science with honors from the University of New York at Buffalo in 1975. Before attending Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, he pursued his graduate studies at Columbia University in New York City. Here, he graduated with his doctorate in medicine in 1980. 

Dr. Saal completed his training in Internal Medicine at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center of San Francisco, a UCSF affiliate, for his internship and residency programs. He continued to Stanford University to complete his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency. Dr. Saal is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Physical Medicine, and Rehabilitation. He is certified by the American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine and joined the SOAR Spine and Orthopedics group in 1986.

With a passion for athletics, Dr. Saal has served as a Team Physician for both Men’s and Women’s Athletics at Santa Clara University and previously served as a consultant and team physician for the San Francisco 49ers Football Team. He has also served as a team physician for Stanford University athletics and was their Associate Clinical Professor for the Department of Functional Restoration.

Dr. Saal has participated in and led clinical research and publications in the foundational work of the nonoperative treatment of painful spinal disorders. He has been a principal author in numerous original research publications regarding the role of inflammation and pain in lumbar disc disease and the nonsurgical treatment of painful spine disorders. His work has changed the approach to treating and understanding painful lumbar spine disorders nationally and internationally.  

Dr. Joel Saal, along with his brother Dr. Jeffrey A. Saal, co-developed the IDET technology and procedure for treating painful degenerative discs. They were cofounders of Oratec, a medical device company. Their original research has been presented at spine conferences all over the world. 

Dr. Saal is a member of the North American Spine Society and has served as a member of their Board of Directors. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Saal was one of the founders of the Physiatric Association of Spine, Sports, and Occupational Rehabilitation (PASSOR), and is a cofounder of Laurimed LLC. Laurimed LLC is a medical research and development company whose mission is to improve interventional, surgical, and nonsurgical treatment methods across medical disciplines and specialties.