20 questions to ask your doctor before back surgery

20 questions to ask your doctor before back surgery

If you suffer from chronic back pain, back surgery may give you the relief you’ve been looking for. The decision to choose back surgery, however, is rarely an easy one.

There is no guarantee that surgery will relieve your back pain, but it is often successful at relieving symptoms caused by compressed nerves in the spine, such as pain or numbness that radiates down one or both legs.

The nerves in your back may become compressed for one of any number of reasons, including bulging or ruptured (herniated) disks, or osteoarthritis that results in bone spurs on the spine.

There are different types of surgical procedures to relieve back pain, depending on the cause of symptoms. Types of back surgery procedures include:

Diskectomy: Removal of the herniated portion of a disk. Laminectomy: Removal of bone overlying the spinal canal.

Spinal fusion: Permanently connects two or more bones in the spine to add stability to the spine.

Implanted artificial disks: An alternative to spinal fusion to eliminate painful movement between two vertebrae due to degenerated or injured disk.

Before you make the decision to undergo back surgery, it is important to get a second opinion, and to ask your doctor any questions you may have about the recommended procedure. If your doctor has recommended back surgery to relieve your back pain, here are some questions to ask your surgeon before surgery.

  1. What is the specific cause of my back pain?
  2. What procedure is recommended to relieve my pain, and how is it done?
  3. How will that procedure work to help my particular back issue?
  4. What are the expected benefits of this procedure and how long will they last?
  5. What is the success rate of this procedure?
  6. Is surgery my only option to get relief from my back pain?
  7. What are my non-surgical options?
  8. What happens if I do not choose to have back surgery?
  9. How many times have you performed this procedure? What is your success rate?
  10. What are the risks and possible complications of the surgery?
  11. What tests/medical evaluations will be required before surgery?
  12. What type of anesthesia will be administered? What are the side effects/risks of the anesthesia?
  13. What will my recovery be like?
  14. What should I expect in terms of pain and mobility following surgery?
  15. What pain control measures will I be given?
  16. When can I go home after surgery? Will I need assistance at home after surgery?
  17. Will I need physical therapy? If so, what kind of physical therapy?
  18. When can I return to daily activities such as work, driving and exercise?
  19. What can I expect in six months after surgery? One year? Five years?
  20. What follow-up appointments will be needed?

Asking these questions can help you make an informed decision before undergoing surgery for your back pain. Back surgery may not be the best course of treatment for you, so it’s important to understand the potential that back surgery will be successful at relieving your pain.

Take this list of questions with you to your next doctor's appointment to help guide the discussion about your upcoming procedure. Asking these questions will help you be better prepared for surgery and know what to expect during recovery.

For more information on how we treat orthopedic pain, including back pain, click here.


Posted: 4/18/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: exercise, fitness, fitness and exercise

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