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3 Signs It's Time to Consider Spinal Fusion Surgery

Electing to undergo spinal surgery is a weighty decision. If you’re at this point, you’ve probably had countless visits to physical therapists, a string of specialist consultations, and a long file of diagnostic images. 

However, when conservative treatments have proven ineffective, spinal fusion surgery is often the best choice.

Dr. Patrick McNulty at McNulty Spine never recommends surgery lightly. As an award-winning, elite spinal surgeon, he understands the intricate nuances of the spine and stands uniquely qualified to advise patients when surgery offers hope and when it won’t.

While each case is different, here are three signs that you should talk to Dr. McNulty about spinal fusion surgery. 

Spinal fusion surgery basics

A spinal fusion surgery joins two or more vertebrae in your spine to alleviate pain and restore stability. 

It’s an intricate solution to a range of spinal conditions, from spondylolisthesis to degenerative disk disease. The fusion process mimics the natural way bones heal, fusing the painful vertebrae into a single, solid bone. 

Sign 1: Chronic back pain

Understanding the difference between a day of aching muscles and actual chronic pain is the first step in detecting when back-related issues might require surgical treatment. 

Chronic back pain is more than persistent discomfort; it’s a daily hurdle, a shadow that never leaves. When common tasks and leisure activities are no longer enjoyable or feasible due to the aches and pangs radiating from your spine, this is a sign that back pain has significantly impacted your life.

When does your back pain transform from a standard occasional occurrence to a life-altering ordeal? The answer often lies in its nature, severity, and persistence. Have you experienced months on end where the challenge of simply sitting or standing becomes a feat of its own? It might be time to schedule a consultation with Dr. McNulty.

Sign 2: Nerve pain and weakness

Nerve pain can be debilitating, often associated with burning or tingling sensations. It’s like a lightning bolt that lets you know your nerves are under siege. 

Conversely, weakness indicates the impact of pain over an extended period. Perhaps you’ve noticed it in the form of a foot that suddenly gives out or arms and hands that can’t keep their usual grip.

When neurological symptoms begin impacting your life, don’t ignore them. They’re signs of more than a distressed back — your body struggles to maintain normal function. They’re also a sign that it’s time for a surgical assessment.

Sign 3: Spinal instability

Spinal instability is an issue that undercuts the foundation of your physical support system. It happens when you injure the ligaments supporting your spine, making your vertebrae loose and moveable. The effect can be dramatic, with each step or twist destabilizing your spine and triggering acute pain.

Dr. McNulty can spot these signs even before you can. He knows how to interpret the subtler signs of instability, like the inability to maintain a posture without undue fatigue or pain. 

Spinal instability can lead to various issues, from chronic fatigue to an inability to maintain activity levels. When you can no longer count on your back to provide a stable platform, it's time to seriously consider your surgical options.

Spinal fusion procedures at McNulty Spine

Dr. McNulty offers several spinal fusion strategies. His repertoire encompasses both traditional open surgeries and cutting-edge minimally invasive techniques, ensuring a broad spectrum of care for patients with diverse needs. He performs:

Dr. McNulty uses general anesthesia paired with intraoperative neurologic monitoring during surgery. 

He also uses an innovative approach to bone grafting; he combines the patient’s stem cells with a synthetic bone substitute, minimizing the need for extensive bone harvesting. This method reduces pain and speeds up recovery.

His expertise spans the entirety of the spine, including cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions, and extends to complex fusion reconstructions involving the occiput or pelvis when necessary. 

Dr. McNulty likens his spinal fusion technique to bonding two pieces of wood with glue and a clamp. First, he precisely aligns and stabilizes the spine, then fuses the vertebrae with bone graft material. His adept use of metal rods, screws, or cable band anchors holds everything securely during the healing process.

Through this meticulous blend of modern techniques and patient-centric care, Dr. McNulty addresses the immediate concerns of spinal instability or pain and creates a pathway to long-term health and mobility.

If you have chronic back pain, spinal instability, or nerve pain and weakness, call or request an appointment online at McNulty Spine in Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada.

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