What to Discuss with Your Spine Specialist Before Surgery
Deciding whether to have surgery can be a no-brainer for emergency procedures like appendix removal, or even for minimally invasive surgeries that heal quickly.
However, if you have chronic back pain, you may experience high stress around your decision to have spinal surgery. Although you are ready to choose an option that can reduce – or even eliminate – your pain, you may be unsure of the risks and complications associated with this type of surgery.
Of course, the first step to making the right decision is to work with a trusted and experienced physician. The best surgeons have years of experience with surgeries like yours and they take the time to address your concerns before and after the procedure.
If your physician recommends spinal surgery, you can ease your fears by discussing the following topics, which can equip you with knowledge to reduce the stress that comes with undergoing any surgical procedure.
Surgery as Treatment
Ask your doctor to explain where your pain originated and how surgery will address the problem. Different types of back pain require different surgery solutions, so ask how your surgery will correct the particular problem you have. Some back problems respond better to surgery than others, so inquire about the likelihood that surgery will correct your problem.
Surgery Success Rate
This leads us to the next topic, which is—specifically—what is the rate of success for the operation you plan to receive? Patients can respond differently to procedures, so not all surgeries can guarantee success for your particular situation. However, your surgeon should be able to tell you something like this: “The surgery’s results are X, and the results of conservative treatments are Y.” In other words, your doctor should be able to address the chance your surgery will help you, based on statistical data and typical outcomes.
Before you decide to receive surgery, it is important to make sure you have explored all of your options. The spine is a complicated place to operate, so surgery should not be entered into lightly. Sometimes orthopedists recommend that patients try other options first, opting for surgery only when the pain has become unbearable. Make sure you explore options like exercise and medication, too.
While you may be focused on the surgery itself, remember that recovery can be its own challenge. Ask your doctor how long your recovery will take and what kind of participation you will have. For example, make sure you understand if physical therapy will be involved so you can prepare to commit the time to it, making the surgery worthwhile.
You may have some topics of your own to add to this list. Just remember that asking questions will give you information to guide you in your decision and, hopefully, to reduce your stress surrounding this important time in your life. Please see Dr. Sharma for questions you may have and to discuss your options.