Spine Surgery

The spine program at Steamboat Orthopaedic & Spine Institute (SOSI) delivers access to the highest possible level of spine care to northwest Colorado thanks to a comprehensive program featuring both non-operative and surgical care.

Spine surgeon Dr. J. Alex Sielatycki a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, along with Dr. Brian Siegel, a board-certified non-operative spine specialist, work together to provide patients in the region with world-class, total spine care. Jessica Nyquist, a physician assistant, and Michael McDermid, Nurse Practitioner, work with Dr. Sielatycki and Dr. Siegel to evaluate patients, order appropriate testing, and to initiate conservative care for neck and back pain. Regardless of the initial problem or the required treatment, the overarching goal of the spine program is to help patients return to their previous functional status, return to the activities they love, and improve their quality of life.

With a philosophy to provide the least invasive treatment approach that allows patients to return to their favorite activities, Drs. Sielatycki and Siegel always incorporate conservative, non-operative treatments — such as physical therapy, injections, yoga, and others — in cases where these techniques are indicated.

The goal for spine care at SOSI is to provide personalized treatment, offering the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.

Spine - Back pain

Emphasis on Non-Surgical, Conservative Care

Only about 10 percent of patients seen for spine complaints will benefit from surgery, which is why it’s important to have an extensive screening process with a multidisciplinary approach to pain and function.

We live in a very healthy and active community and most people want to avoid surgery if possible. There are cases when it becomes obvious that the patient needs more immediate surgery, and in these cases, there is no delay in getting the patient a surgical evaluation. We want to improve people’s function and motion and avoid surgery unless we can predict an excellent outcome.

Jessica Nyquist and Michael McDermid often see patients initially for accurate diagnosis and conservative treatment options, essentially working as the triage experts for the overall spine program. They provides a full neurological and musculoskeletal examination as well as appropriate imaging such as MRI, which is now available on site at SOSI’s new clinic. Michael and Jessica may provide physical therapy or exercise prescriptions, refer to Dr. Siegel for spinal needle interventions or medication management.


Spine Surgery with a Focus on Spinal Motion Preservation

There are certain spine conditions which may ultimately require surgery, either in the setting of failed conservative treatment or when there is a severe or progressive neurological deficit. Dr. Sielatycki has made spinal motion preservation the focus of his surgical practice, and regards spinal fusion procedures as a last resort when there truly are no other options.

“The spinal motion segments in both the neck and low back are designed to move just like any other joint in the body. We now have an even better understanding of the importance of maintaining motion between the lower lumbar spine, pelvis, and hip joints, as these are the core of the body’s ability to move fluidly – not just in athletic activities like running, skiing, and biking, but in day to day living with standing, sitting, twisting and bending,” says Dr. Sielatycki. “These motion segments of the spine are among the last joints in the body still being fused by many surgeons around the world. My goal with each patient is to find the best surgical option and avoid fusion if at all possible. It is true that there are certain conditions which still will do best with a fusion operation, but this is not the default answer for me.”

Spinal Disc Replacement

- an alternative to spinal disc fusion


Preserving Spine Motion

Spinal disc replacements are increasingly becoming a preferred way to preserve spine motion and an alternative to fusion procedures which may lead to more rapid degeneration adjacent to the fusion, loss of flexibility and the need for possible future surgeries. Approved by the FDA in 2007, cervical disc replacements are now common, and Dr. J. Alex Sielatycki has performed over 400 of these procedures. SOSI is currently involved in trials toward FDA approval of more complicated lumbar disc replacements.

The spine is not a rigid structure, by design, it is intended to move. Every time you move – sit, stand, bend, twist – it’s part of a kinetic chain that includes everything from the ground up, from your feet through your legs to your hips and pelvis to the spine.” - Dr. J. Alex Sielatycki

Dr. J. Alex Sielatycki, brings his strong interest and expertise in spine motion preservation to SOSI. The use of disc replacements throughout the spine provides an alternative to spinal disc fusion procedures, which may lead to more rapid degeneration adjacent to the fusion, loss of flexibility and the need for future surgeries.

Advancements in Lumbar Spine Replacements

Although disc replacements are common in the upper or cervical spine, due to the complex anatomy and the difficulty in working around nerves, joint replacements are not yet as common in the lower spine.

Currently Dr. Sielatycki, SOSI and the Steamboat Surgery Center are involved in a clinical trial performing the new BalancedBack Total Joint Replacement surgery of the lumbar spine segment using the breakthrough 3Spine MOTUS lumbar device, as is an alternative to spinal fusion surgery. This clinical series is moving the new device toward FDA approval. By maintaining or restoring motion of the lumbar discs, pain is relieved and collateral damage to adjacent segments is minimized.

“We have known for decades that lumbar spinal fusion surgery can have substantial negative downstream effects on spinal motion and overall spinal health, but truly effective alternatives to fusion have been elusive. With this lumbar total joint replacement technology, I believe we have an answer to this decades-long problem which has plagued so many patients. “ - Dr. J. Alex Sielatycki

Dr. Sielatycki is currently enrolling patients in the FDA clinical trial for the 3Spine BalancedBack Total Lumbar Joint Replacement, as well as into the standard of care “control” arm of the study.


If you have been told you need a spinal fusion operation, and you are experiencing back pain, our team at the SOSI Spine Motion Center would be honored to provide a full evaluation of your condition. First and foremost, consideration will be given to whether any surgery is needed at all, as many times there are excellent non-surgical options to keep your spine moving. If indeed surgery is the best option, Dr. Sielatycki will offer a thorough assessment of your history, symptoms, and imaging findings to determine what the best motion-preserving surgical option would be for you: whether that be through disc / spinal joint replacement or just a simple nerve decompression without the need for device implantation.