We encourage all of our patients who are considering surgery to get a second opinion. It is our feeling that the more you know about your condition the better you will be able to make appropriate decisions about your treatment.
Certain aspects of spinal surgery can be very complicated but, quite honestly; once your problem has been identified it’s really not too hard for any patient to understand what it takes to fix the problem. The trick is to have a spine specialist who is willing to take the time to explain it all to you. With high resolution MRI images and plastic models we will explain, in plain English, the mechanical problem and show you how we propose to repair it.
For most patients, once they see the problem with their own eyes, they have a much easier time understanding the role that surgery has in making them better. We feel that it’s always best if your body heals itself and fixes the problem on its own. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Once surgery has been deemed the best available method to fix your problem, we will use the most minimally invasive techniques possible.
Let’s face it, no one without pain just wakes up one day and says, “I have nothing to do today so let’s have spinal surgery.” The patients we see are usually in terrible pain and just fed up living like that. Being in pain is depressing and can affect how you act at work and at home. People in pain don’t sleep well and are very “on edge”. They are not themselves and lose the fun of life. Many people around them don’t understand their behavior and just see them as someone who is grouchy and miserable. We appreciate that the choice to have surgery is not easy, but if you are not getting better on your own then having a procedure must be considered. Once that point is reached, it’s important to educate yourself about all the options for treatment.
The second and third opinions are helpful because they make you familiar with the source of your pain, the surgical options, the risks/benefits/alternatives to surgery and the medical language we use when discussing your problem. Once you have spoken to us and understand why we are suggesting a procedure your fear level will come way down. We encourage you to bring your family and friends to hear the explanation. Many people come with questions written down and are educated as we go over each question. We outline the risks very clearly. Most patients are very surprised to find that the things they are most worried about almost never happen.
It cannot be stressed enough that it’s very important to get the second opinion from a spine specialist who is qualified to give the second opinion. There’s no point spending time with a physician who doesn’t know what they are talking about. For starters, you need to see someone who just does spinal surgery.