The physicians at Buffalo Spine and Sports Medicine specialize in non-surgical treatments for painful syndromes involving the human spine, joints, muscles, tendons, and peripheral nerves. However, we commonly come across patients with disease processes that may need a surgical opinion to reduce morbidity and improve function. Through the years we have established robust lines of communication with our local specialists in orthopedics and neurosurgery when surgery is indicated.

With regards to painful conditions of the spine most patients do not need to see a spine surgeon immediately. Non-surgical treatments are tailored to the individual and may include, but are not limited to, medications, physical therapy, chiropractic, home exercises, massage, acupuncture, and spinal injections. If pain is not well controlled despite a trial of numerous conservative measures; and imaging studies indicate that a there is a potential surgical problem, we may suggest that you seek a surgical opinion.

More pressing indications to consider a consult with a spine surgeon include the following:

  • Pronounced focal weakness in one of your extremities (especially if weakness is progressively worsening).
  • Pronounced loss of feeling or sensation in one or your extremities (especially if sensory loss is progressively worsening).
  • Loss of feeling or sensation in your buttocks and around your genitalia. Symptoms like these are often observed together with weakness in the legs, bladder incontinence and possibly bowel incontinence. These symptoms suggest a very serious condition called, “cauda equina syndrome,” that must be recognized quickly and requires immediate surgical intervention.
  • Unstable fractures observed on imaging (traumatic or non-traumatic)
  • Infections and tumors that block the spinal canal and interfere with the course of the nerve roots.
  • Balance deficits and problems with loss of hand dexterity that are the result of cervical spinal cord compression (cervical myelopathy).
  • Extremely debilitating pain from onset that is poorly controlled, correlates well with imaging studies, and cannot be managed appropriately with non-surgical treatments.

We also manage patients at Buffalo Spine and Sports Medicine who have diseases involving the joints, tendons and peripheral nerves. When non-surgical treatments don’t work or if imaging studies suggest that a surgical option may be a better course of treatment, we may suggest an orthopedic surgery consultation.

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Some indications for seeking an orthopedic surgery opinion include the following:

• End-stage osteoarthritis of a peripheral joint (hip, knee, shoulder) to consider joint replacement.
• Torn tendons in the shoulder, hip and knee that can’t be treated with more conservative options.
• Torn meniscus in the knee that causes pain and interferes with normal joint movement
• Torn ligaments in a major joint (shoulder, hip, knee, ankle wrist, etc.) that require surgical stabilization
• Compressed nerves in the arms or legs (carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar neuropathies, peroneal neuropathy) that are showing signs of nerve damage on electrodiagnostic testing.