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A spine surgeon reaching toward a visual representation of the human spine.

Spine Surgeon

Do You Need a Spine Surgeon?

Asking yourself whether you need a spine surgeon is a big deal. And a lot must’ve happened to get you to this point. We get it. How much pain have you been in? How much discomfort? While we understand considering any sort of back surgery is a big deal, we also understand how impactful it can be for those who really need it.

You know you might need to consider spinal surgery if you’ve experienced anything like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, and so on and your overall quality of life hasn’t improved over time or with other treatments. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information said, “Spine ailments are common causes of lost productivity and diminished health-related quality of life in the United States.” On top of that, “The number of patients seeking treatment for spine-related problems was estimated to be nearly 33 million.”

Here are some other conditions you might need to consider:

  1. Degenerative Disc Disease
  2. Traumatic Injuries
  3. Spinal Infections
  4. Spinal Fractures
  5. And Spinal Tumors

If you’ve suffered from any of these and still haven’t found any relief or you’ve simply been plagued by back pain no one can seem to diagnose or treat, keep reading. We’ve prepared this article just for you.

Let’s talk about what a back surgeon does, what you can expect, and what you can do today.


What do Spine Surgeons do?

The answer might sound obvious in the question itself. However, neck and spine surgeons do a lot more than you may think. Of course, they specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions related to the spine, but the spine is made up of many different parts. As such, this includes diagnosing problems with the bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and discs that make up the spinal column. Their focus is on both surgical and non-surgical treatment of spinal disorders.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what they typically do:

  1. Diagnosis: As we discussed, they conduct thorough assessments by examining you physically, reviewing your medical history, and utilizing diagnostic tools such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to diagnose numerous spinal conditions accurately.
  2. Various Treatment: They almost always offer both surgical and non-surgical treatments for spinal issues. Surgical treatments usually range from spinal fusions, diskectomies, laminectomies, and other minimally invasive procedures to correct spinal problems.
  3. And Specialized Expertise: Always remember that spinal surgeons have in-depth knowledge and expertise in addressing a range of spinal conditions, such as herniated discs, spinal deformities (Like scoliosis), spinal fractures, spinal stenosis, tumors, and other spinal injuries.

What can a Spinal Surgeon do for You?

And you might be asking yourself, “Do I really need a spine surgeon?” After all, what we’ve already discussed might seem a little overwhelming, and that’s understandable. So, let’s go back and revisit some of the conditions that might cause you to consider visiting a spinal surgeon, especially if you’re in any pain or discomfort.

  1. Herniated Discs: When the soft inner material of a spinal disc protrudes through the tougher outer layer, often causing nerve compression and pain.
  2. Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on your spinal cord and nerves, leading to pain, weakness, or numbness.
  3. Scoliosis: Abnormal curvature of the spine, which can be congenital or develop over time, affecting your posture and potentially causing pain or complications.
  4. Spinal Fractures: Exactly what it sounds like. Breaks or cracks in the bones of your spine that are often due to trauma or osteoporosis.
  5. Degenerative Disc Disease: The long-term wear and tear on the discs between your vertebrae, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
  6. Spinal Tumors: Abnormal growths in or around the spinal cord, which can cause pain, neurological problems, or even paralysis if pressing on your nerves.
  7. Spinal Infections: Infections that specifically affect the spine, which can lead to pain, inflammation, and potentially serious complications.
  8. Traumatic Injuries: Injuries to the spine due to accidents or trauma, which can result in spinal cord damage, fractures, or dislocations.

But what if none of these applies to you? What if you can’t tell whether you have something like spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or spinal tumors? That’s okay. Let’s do a little self-check together to see where you’re at.


Before Visiting a Spine Surgeon

Whenever someone comes in to see us, we look at a range of indicators together to determine what the primary issue with their spine may be. And if you were to ever visit us, we’d do the same for you. We’d look at things like your medical history to see if there are any pre-existing conditions, past surgeries, or chronic illnesses that may be following you. We’d also conduct a few diagnostic tests like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans accordingly.

But here’s your chance to run some self-diagnostic tests before you ever come into the office. These can help you pinpoint your primary source of pain and how it’s currently impacting you. Try asking yourself these questions:

  1. Pain Assessment: Where exactly is the pain located? How intense is it? And is it persistent throughout your neck or back? Pay attention if it radiates down your arms or legs.
  2. Mobility and Function: Are there any limitations in your movement? Stiffness? Or do you experience any difficulty performing daily activities due to back or neck issues?
  3. Changes in Posture: Have there been any noticeable changes in your posture or curvature of your spine when standing or sitting? Note any amount of delineation.
  4. Neurological Symptoms: Is there any tingling, numbness, or weakness in your arms, hands, legs, or feet? Note any issues with bowel or bladder control and take them seriously.
  5. Trauma or Recent Injuries: Think back. Have you been involved in any recent accidents or injuries that might have affected your spine? Ones that occurred a long time ago?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, it may be time for you to visit a spine surgeon. Except, how do you find one? And what can you expect?


Finding a Neck and Spine Surgeon

Finding a neck and spine surgeon involves a few key steps and considerations. There are also some red flags you should look out for too. But first, let’s get into the key steps and considerations:

  1. Referrals and Recommendations: Seek recommendations from your primary care physician. You can also ask your friends and family who they’ve had positive experiences with.
  2. Research and Credentials: Take charge and look for surgeons who are board-certified in spine surgery and have additional specialization or fellowship training.
  3. Reviews and Testimonials: This one might seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Read patient reviews and testimonials online to gauge patient satisfaction and experiences.
  4. Communication and Compatibility: During consultations, assess the surgeon’s communication style, willingness to listen, and ability to explain treatment options clearly.
  5. Surgical Approach and Techniques: Don’t be afraid to ask about the surgeon’s approach to treatment, including their use of minimally invasive techniques when suitable.

Now, time for the red flags to look out for when selecting a spine surgeon.


Some red Flags to Look out For

Something we always push for our patients to know is that they’re in control. Not us. It’s their life, their pain and discomfort, and their body. We’re simply here to help in any way we can. As such, we always recommend that potential patients look out for the following:

  1. Lack of Credentials: This is a big one. You should steer clear of surgeons who lack board certification in spine surgery or additional training in spine surgery.
  2. Poor Communication: Don’t hesitate to keep looking if the surgeon doesn’t listen to concerns, rushes consultations, or fails to explain treatment options clearly.
  3. High Pressure or Aggressive Sales Tactics: Get a second opinion if the surgeon pushes for surgery without thoroughly discussing your other treatment options.
  4. Negative Reviews or Complaints: Consistent negative reviews or patient complaints about a surgeon’s bedside manner, surgical outcomes, or overall care are there for a reason.
  5. Limited Experience or High Complication Rates: Surgeons with limited experience in performing specific procedures or those associated with higher complication rates in their surgeries.

If you think you might need a neck and spine surgeon, you must do thorough research and ask the hard questions. Above all else, know you’re in control.


Find a Spine Surgeon Today

The one thing any spinal surgeon should never do is make promises about specific outcomes or recovery times. However, there’s one thing we can certainly make a promise about: Putting you first.

Considering whether to consult a neck and spine surgeon is a monumental choice influenced by the impact of pain and discomfort on your daily life. From herniated discs to scoliosis and spinal fractures, the weight of these conditions on your overall well-being is evident.

Recognizing the pivotal role of spine surgeons in diagnosing, treating, and potentially alleviating these issues is crucial. This decision-making process involves introspection about your symptoms, self-assessment of potential problems, and contemplating the necessity for professional intervention. We hope you now feel empowered with knowledge about expectations, finding a qualified surgeon, and identifying red flags. We hope you feel enabled to seek relief effectively.

Taking charge of this journey and collaborating with a trusted spinal surgeon can lead to the best possible outcome. Act now and take the first step towards improved spinal health and a better quality of life.

Schedule a consultation or give us a call to learn more.

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