Things to Know Before Surgery

Are you considering back surgery? Before you make this important and possibly life-changing decision, you will need to do your own research, talking with your general practitioner and the spine specialist to whom your primary care physician refers you.  You might also consider reading up-to-date and reliable reports on the success and failure rates and the appropriateness of the recommended surgery for your condition.  For some back and spinal problems, like extreme scoliosis, fractured vertebrae, compressed spinal nerves, and even herniated discs, back surgery may be necessary to alleviate chronically debilitating pain.  For some other conditions, the surgery’s drawbacks may outweigh the benefits.  Because some medical professionals, including spine surgeons, hold divergent views about the usefulness of back surgery, you might even consider getting a second or third opinion about whether back surgery, and what type, is the most appropriate option for your health care needs.

As you determine whether, when, and where to have your back surgery, be sure to ask questions of and about your specialist. Obtaining the right diagnosis, ensuring that both you and your doctor understand the source of the pain, deciding whether surgery will actually relieve the pain, finding the right surgeon and hospital, understanding the pros and cons of the procedures and the specific type of surgery that will be performed, following up with the appropriate physical or occupational therapist and restorative exercises, and solidifying a recovery plan are all necessary to ensuring appropriate care, pre- and post-surgery.  The answers to these questions can help determine the chances that, after the surgery, you will be pain free. 

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