Before considering getting spine surgery there are many things you should be prepared for. One thing you might wonder is what you can do as a patient to make the decision-making process about whether to have spine surgery a productive experience.
Know the Cause of Your Chronic Pain
Identifying the cause of your pain is different from finding out what is anatomically wrong with your back. For example, you may have a herniated disc that shows up on an MRI scan, but if that is not the cause of your pain, then surgery for the herniated disc (usually a microdiscectomy) will not help you find pain relief. You, and your doctors, should be able to articulate the precise pain generator before surgery is even considered. Many practitioners believe that one of the most common causes of “failed back surgery syndrome” (continued pain after surgery) is an improper diagnosis prior to surgery. There are many reasons that a back surgery may or may not work, and even with the best surgeon and for the best indications, spine surgery is no more than 95% predictive of a successful result.
Be Well Prepared for Your Medical Consultation
When you’re in pain, it can be difficult to describe your situation to the doctor in a complete, concise and accurate manner. Meeting a spine surgeon or your primary care doctor can also be overwhelming and intimidating. Therefore, researching likely questions ahead of time can help. Be prepared to discuss your medical history (including your family’s history), details about your pain and your expectations about the surgery itself and its results. It would be helpful to write it down and bring it to your physician.
Get a Second Opinion
Before making any final decisions, getting patient education from valid sources are very important. Ask your current treating physician to refer one or more good spine surgeons. Because there’s no good way to absolutely evaluate and compare surgeon competencies, your physician will likely have to use word of mouth and anecdotal data. However, referring physicians can get a sense of the surgeon’s qualifications through knowing whether a surgeon has been fellowship trained in spine surgery, the number of back surgeries performed by the surgeon, and whether spine surgery is a significant part of the surgeon’s practice. And don’t be afraid to ask your physician: would he or she let the spine surgeon do surgery on one of his or her own family members?
The Way Out
Sadly, many physicians and surgeons will not give you any information on alternative treatments/therapies. Here at OC Laser Spine and Neuropathy, we offer new cutting edge technology laser that eliminate having to go through back surgery altogether! Many patients come here as a last resort before surgery, and many skip the back surgery altogether. You may watch they’re video testimonials on our youtube channel @ http://www.youtube.com/user/dryoo2.