Michael Bolesta, M.D., combines an intense understanding of the spine’s anatomy, biomechanics, and pathology with a highly personalized approach to care for patients suffering from back and neck disorders. His practice at UT Southwestern Medical Center focuses completely on care related to the lumbar (back) and cervical (neck) spine. Whether someone can benefit from newer titanium disc implant, physical therapy, or an injection to effectively improve neck or back pain, Dr. Bolesta is committed to making sure patients understand the full spectrum of options available to them.
“My focus is not on treating just the condition or injury. I listen to patients to understand their goals and risk tolerance, as well as the outcomes they expect after being treated for back or neck issues. I then help them to make an informed decision about the type of treatment that will effectively relieve their pain and help them achieve the mobility they want to live their lives,” says Dr. Bolesta.
Patients who have a nerve compression may experience pain that gets worse over time. When someone experiences arm or leg pain that gradually worsens over time, it could be a sign that they have a spinal problem. No matter what the situation is, we can provide an accurate diagnosis, which is the first step to treating the problem.”
One caution that he has for patients is that they should do their homework before having back surgery. For example, he says that in North Texas, minimally invasive spine surgery has benefited from considerable promotion over the last few years. However, it does not achieve optimal results for every patient. For some patients who have been told they need surgery, other approaches – including nonsurgical solutions – can be effective in addressing problems ranging from low back pain to leg pain, or neck with arm pain caused by a spinal disorder.
Spinal stenosis is among the most common reasons for back and neck pain for patients over 50 years old. In the neck, myelopathy may develop. One of the options Dr. Bolesta offers to treat myelopathy is laminoplasty, a surgical procedure to make more room for the spinal cord. Without using fusion surgery, this alleviates symptoms and achieves excellent long-term results. It takes about three to five hours to perform a laminoplasty and only a short hospital stay is required. Typically, the recovery time is about six weeks.
During his career, Dr. Bolesta has been at the forefront of changes in spine surgery. This ranges from advancements related to cervical disk arthroplasty to the use of bone substitutes, such as bone marrow aspirate, in spinal fusion. This is an alternative to autogenous bone graft.
He is extremely committed to research that is leading to innovations related to the evaluation and treatment of spinal disorders and injuries. This includes improving the effectiveness of minimally invasive spine surgery, developing new materials for grafts and disk replacement, improving understanding of disc degeneration, and evaluating osteoporosis treatment options.
Dr. Bolesta has garnered professional honors including the North America Traveling Fellowship of the American and Canadian Orthopaedic Associations. He has also held leadership positions in several professional societies and universities and serves on the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the Scoliosis Research Society.