When To See A Spine Surgeon

Almost everyone has experienced acute pain in the back at some point in his or her life, and if you have thought about going to see your doctor for this, you’re not alone. Nagging back pain, in fact, is among the top reasons for visits to physicians every year. When patients are faced with persisting back pain that doesn’t go away on its own, it can be confusing to know whom to turn to for the right treatment. Do you go to your primary physician, a therapist, or a spine surgeon?

So, where do you start?

Patients with persisting back pain often assume the worst and wonder if they will need back surgery to correct the issue. However, your first point of contact should be your primary physician. A first-time visit to the doctor generally involves discussions of medical treatments and options that are much more conservative than surgery. These include physical therapy, pain management, anti-inflammatory medication or steroidal treatment. Though the pain in the back can interrupt normal routine and be very painful, in most cases back problems can be treated non-surgically with improvements or even resolution in a few weeks or months.

However, if you have already seen your primary care physician for a physical examination, and have been diagnosed for a spinal condition that is not responding to the recommended treatment with time, then you should consider consulting an orthopaedic or neurosurgeon specialising exclusively in the management of the spine.

Signs that you need to see a spine surgeon

You should see a spine surgeon if you experience the following symptoms regarding your back pain:

1. You cannot function normally and your quality of life is impacted: The pain and reduced function can have you struggling to participate in daily life. You may find yourself struggling to perform daily activities such as sleeping restfully, driving, or sitting straight in a chair for work without experiencing pain.

2. Other treatments are not working: If non-surgical treatments have been exhausted after giving them considerable time, and your condition still does not show signs of improvement, you should see a spine surgeon.

3. Your condition is deteriorating quickly: Conditions like osteoporosis can worsen progressively over time. If your condition is progressive, then you should consider consulting a spine surgeon to have your condition monitored regularly. In these visits, options such as future treatment plans including surgery can be discussed. If there is a sudden deterioration of your condition, then a decision based on sound facts can be made.

4. You experience symptoms of nerve damage: Spinal problems can create serious issues if they cause nerve damage. Watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Significant weakness in a limb (arm or leg) or inability to move a previously functioning limb.
  • Pain that is radiating down a limb (arm or leg).
  • Bladder or bowel issues.
  • Difficulty in maintaining control of one or both feet.
  • Fever, night sweats, chills, or weight loss.

5. If you want a second opinion: If you have already seen a physician and are unsatisfied with his or her treatment recommendations, you may want to see a spine surgeon for getting specialist advice. Getting more than one opinion will give you the comfort and confidence in the treatment plan being given by your doctor.

6. You have an injury or accident: Usually, you will have time to explore traditional treatments and make informed decisions before seeking surgery. However, in special cases such as injuries and accidents, you may require spinal surgery on short notice.

What qualities should you look for in a good spine surgeon?

A spine surgeon should be a good communicator who is willing to invest time in helping you understand the recommended treatment options. The surgeon will also be dedicated to excellent outcomes and patient care, have expertise in established practices and be willing to learn new techniques and approaches. Consulting a highly collaborative team at the Brain and Spine Institute at Sagar Hospitals, you will be recommended an orthopaedic or neurosurgeon depending on the exact nature of your condition.

Why should you choose the Brain and Spine Institute?

Patients who come to the Brain and Spine Institute at Sagar Hospital benefit from a multidisciplinary team and have access to the complete breadth of care from our surgeons and doctors who are experts in risk mitigation for patients and quality improvement.

Our team of spinal surgeons have the ability to handle and manage spine-related issues that range from simple to the very complex, all within the same healthcare system.

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