A spine surgeon can be a valuable part of curing back or neck pain once and for all. However, in order to accomplish this, the diagnosis must be correct and the operative procedure must go well, without serious complication or health consequence.
There is nothing worse to destroy a patient’s hopes for recovery than enduring a traumatic back surgery only to continue experiencing pain. Worse yet, some patients are physically limited post surgery and slip farther into a progressive state of disability.
A good spinal surgeon will play an active role in the diagnostic and conservative treatment processes. It is not generally advisable to be operated upon by a surgeon with limited knowledge of your particular case or one who pressures you into immediate surgery.
I am pleased to hear that many surgeons advise against spine surgery for many patients. This is the height of medical ethics and morality and should be a model for other medical professionals. Other surgeons will advise the patient to wait as long as possible before attempting surgery as a last resort. These doctors will advise more conservative therapies and consult with the patient’s general orthopedist before considering surgical correction sometime in the future. Once again, this demonstrates a surgeon who is realistic and knowledgeable about the standards of back pain treatment progression.
I also respect surgeons who understand that many procedures demonstrate poor statistical results for curing symptoms. When patients are informed of the less than stellar chances of full recovery via an operation, the surgeon should always be commended for honesty, especially when it comes at the expense of their economic bottom line.
Any surgeon who uses fear, intimidation or unrealistic dire predictions to persuade a patient into surgery should not be trusted. This is doubly true if other doctors have not prescribed immediate surgical correction. Very few dorsopathy syndromes are surgical emergencies. Often times, a pathological spinal abnormality can become asymptomatic on its own, without any treatment. It is always advisable to wait before undergoing a corrective operation, if at all possible.
Cases of dire neurological problems or serious traumatic back injury are obvious exceptions to this rule.
One of my primary back doctors was an orthopedic surgeon. He treated me, in combination with many other doctors, chiropractors and therapists for many years. Never did he recommend surgery as a good solution for my pain. In the course of consulting with other doctors, I received several recommendations for surgery and one doctor who insisted my case was a medical emergency which required operative intervention immediately.
Looking back, I can laugh about it all now, since I know far more currently than I did back then. The best part of it all is that the same spinal conditions described as a medical emergency still reside in my back to this day, unchanged. If anything, they have gotten worse structurally and new ones have been discovered. What my life may have become had I acquiesced to the pressure of inappropriate and unnecessary surgery makes me shudder.
Make sure to take your time when deciding whether surgery is appropriate for your condition. Learn the objective facts about the proposed procedure and get more than 2 opinions. This way, you will be able to make an informed choice based on the truth, rather than a potentially disastrous decision based upon the whim of just one surgeon.
Remember there are some unethical and immoral surgeons out there who will do almost anything to get you under the knife. This is how they make money and their income is obviously far more dear to them than the lives of their prospective patients. Be careful!