An orthopedic surgeon is one of the main types of doctors treating common back and neck pain conditions. Of course, it is a surgeon’s nature to perform operations. By definition, it is what they do.
Patients are often referred to a surgeon once several conservative back pain treatment options have proven to be unsuccessful. Patients who consult a surgeon too early are often convinced that back surgery is the right choice without even taking the time to try more conservative measures. This is very risky and can result in a drastic downturn in the patient’s health and physical condition if the procedure does not go perfectly.
Unfortunately, when it comes to spinal operations, the odds of everything going right are statistically quite low. Permanent curative results are also unlikely from most procedural options.
Surgeons all have individual specialties. Some doctors still focus on traditional fully open surgical procedures. Other surgeons have adopted minimally invasive procedures as their primary treatment protocols. Still others are developing expertise performing innovative disc replacement procedures.
If surgery is the correct option, it is important to find a doctor who specializes in the procedure that is right for you. Remember, in most cases, there are multiple choices in spinal surgery techniques which may be indicated for your particular condition. Always research each and discuss the pros and cons of the decision with more than one surgeon for a truly objective perspective on the best path to treatment.
Don’t be afraid to ask a doctor about their education and experience. After all, it is your health and life that are at risk during an operation. Make sure that your doctor is up to date on the latest innovations and techniques. Ask them if they continually attend medical conferences and training sessions.
Inquire about their experience with the procedure you are considering. Make sure to ask them for accurate statistics regarding the outcome and long-term results of the planned procedure. Having a doctor provide you with references from several successfully treated patients is one of the best ways of judging how you may feel after a procedure is complete.
Some surgeons perform operations on many areas of the body. For back surgery, I would find a specialist who performs the majority of their work on the spine. Some patients will accept a referral to a doctor without ever questioning the doctor’s experience with a specific procedure.
Don’t take chances with your health. Get an expert at all costs, since it is just not worth the risk to become part of an inexperienced doctor’s learning curve. Nothing will influence the results of your surgery more than your choice of doctor. Do not make this decision carelessly!
I have consulted with several surgeons in my time as a chronic back pain patient. Actually, the primary medical doctor I saw most often is a spinal surgeon. This particular doctor never pushed me towards surgery and was very honest that my results would most likely be poor. It is honesty and ethics like this that maintains my faith in medical professionals.
I have been treated by other surgeons who did try to convince me that surgery was correct for my pain. One doctor scared me half to death by telling me that I was at risk for permanent damage, and possibly paralysis, if surgery was not done soon. This conduct not only made no sense medically, but is truly bordering on criminal behavior. It was no surprise when I learned this particular doctor was indicted on insurance fraud 2 years ago for performing hundreds of unnecessary operations.
Do not let a surgeon scare you into premature surgical intervention. Always take the time to get a second or third opinion. Make sure at least one of these other opinions comes from a doctor who is not a surgeon. A touch of objectivity goes a long way in making the right choice when it comes to back surgery.