As a spine surgeon, I get it! In the ideal situation, spine surgery will have a tiny incision, with no surgical pain, the latest technology, and the ability to recreate the normal state after the procedure.
Many times, you can acheive success if you wait long enough. That is because many spine problems can improve without surgical management. When you get better without surgery, it is non invasive, and you are using your own body’s reparative processes. In terms of technology, our modern diagnostic capabilities can provide patients information that will identify limb or life threatening problems that require immediate surgical intervention, vs painful situations that can be given more time to improve before having surgery.
As a surgeon, I can tell you that many patients have had surgical recommendations, but have improved and recovered without surgery. As a patient, the goal is to identify Surgeons that will thoughtfully present the non-surgical option for the appropriate situation.
If you are definitely looking for a surgical solution because of a recurrent, or persistent spine problem, there should be no shortage in finding a surgeon to perform your surgery.
If you are looking for a surgeon that will present the surgical and non surgical options, the patient must be willing to ask questions about the diagnosis, and ask about these non-surgical options. Surgeons are professionals, and should present the best solutions, even if it means the surgeon will not be performing the financially advantageous surgical procedure.
If you are looking only for non-surgical solutions, perhaps you should seek opinions by the non-surgical spine specialists like Neurologists, Physiatrists, or Pain Management Specialists.
As a spine surgeon, I would also advise patients to learn about the surgeon who will perform the surgery. While technology such as Laser Surgery, Robotic Surgery, and Stem Cell treatments appear advanced and effective, understand that it is the thoughtful judgement, and technical skill of the surgeon that will determine the outcome, not just the tools of the trade.
To give an analogy, great tasting food is created by a great chef using the best ingredients. Poor chefs can still ruin the best ingredients.
Likewise, all the latest Technology cannot achieve a good surgical outcome without the judgement and skill of the Surgeon.
It’s not the tool, it’s the use of the tool. Surgical skill, clinical judgement, and technology restraint are all factors that should be considered when determining the best solution ( surgical AND non-surgical) for a particular spine problem!
- Helm S 2nd, Racz GB, Gerdesmeyer L, Justiz R, Hayek SM, Kaplan ED, El Terany MA, Knezevic NN. Percutaneous and Endoscopic Adhesiolysis in Managing Low Back and Lower Extremity Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Pain Physician. 2016 Feb;19(2):E245-82. PubMed PMID: 26815254