11 Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon before Back Surgery
Having back surgery is complicated. If you are like many people about to undergo back surgery, you have many questions, from how to prepare for the procedure, to what to expect afterwards. Asking questions is one of the best things you can do because the more you know, the better you and your family can prepare.
11 Questions to Ask Prior to Spine Surgery
1. What caused/contributed to my back problem?
Back problems may be the result of an injury or progressive degenerative problem, but they may also be the result of poor posture, weight gain and other preventable sources. Learning the cause of your back problem may help you avoid it in the future.
2. Do you have experience in performing this procedure?
An experienced doctor may be able to provide superior results.
3. What does the procedure involve?
Find out about the type of anesthesia you will undergo, for example, and whether the surgeon will make a large incision or if it will be laparoscopic surgery done with a very small incision.
4. Are there alternatives to surgery?
Surgery may not be necessary in all cases. Alternatives may include chiropractic care, physical therapy, and pain management treatments.
5. What happens if I don’t undergo the procedure?
Some back problems are degenerative, which means they worsen over time. Without surgery, pain and disability are likely to increase. Ask your surgeon more about your specific condition and procedure.
6. What are the benefits of the procedure? How long do they last?
The main desired benefits of back surgery are pain relief, improved functioning and mobility. Ask your surgeon to discuss with you his or her specific goals for your recovery.
7. What are the risks involved?
All surgical procedures are associated with some risks. Ask your surgeon to give you a list of what you can expect so that you are more comfortable and prepared.
8. Will I have post-surgical pain?
Nearly all procedures cause some degree of discomfort or pain. Your surgeon should give you detailed and specific instructions about what kind of pain you should expect and how to manage it.
8. What can I expect in the recovery phase?
Find out how long recovery will likely take, determine if you will need assistance at home after the procedure and how long you might need it, and learn if your activities will be limited as you recover. Ask your surgeon specific questions as needed, such as when you can drive a car or lift packages.
10. Will I need physical therapy?
Physical therapy is usually an important part of your surgical care and your surgeon will discuss with you the need for physical therapy in your recovery. Ask your surgeon how often you will need it (if at all) and try to set up your appointments ahead of time.
11. Do you have any informational materials about this surgery that I can review?
Learn as much as you can about the procedure, its risk to benefits ratio, and alternatives.
Having a talk with your back surgeon is one of the best things you can do for your spine pain, neck pain or back pain. A spine specialist has the training, tools and expertise to perform back or neck surgery.
For more information, contact SPINE/RX - The Center for Spine Repair and Regeneration. World class orthopedic spine surgeon, James Dwyer, MD, offers a full spectrum of modern surgical options for a healthy back.