10 Questions for Your Spine Surgeon Before Surgery

Medically reviewed by:

Dr. Larry T. Todd, D.O. – Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Finding out you need spinal surgery can be overwhelming. There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

You will need to understand the details of your medical condition as well as all of the available treatment options. You will also need to ensure you are comfortable with your surgeon.

A patient reviewing an X-ray and asking her spine surgeon important questions before spine surgery.

At OrthoNeuro, we understand that you may be wondering, “How will spine surgery affect my life?” Our doctors are dedicated to working for you and guiding you through this process step by step.

We know that this is a decision you will not take lightly, and we are determined to answer all of your questions. Schedule an appointment today at one of our Greater Columbus locations!

Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon

Now we will discuss important questions to ask before back surgery. Our spine surgeons will be happy to answer these questions and any other concerns you may have.

1. Why Do I Need Back Surgery?

Back surgery may be necessary because conservative treatments such as physical therapy, gentle massage, and anti-inflammatory pain medications have not reduced the pain in your spine.

Your pain may be caused by:

Back surgery may be the next effective option for reducing pain. Back surgeries can range from minimally invasive procedures to complicated spinal fusions.

Common types of back surgery include:

2. What Are the Benefits and Risks of Back Surgery?

While no two spine surgeries are the same, your doctor should explain the benefits and risks related to your proposed procedure. The benefits of your surgery should outweigh the risks of complications.

As is the case with all surgical procedures, there are some risks and complications. Please discuss these directly with your surgeon. It is essential to understand all the possible complications related to the recommended surgery before agreeing to it with your doctor.

To ensure the success of your procedure, if you are overweight, your doctor may ask you to lose weight prior to your procedure.

3. What Is the Statistical Success Rate for This Type of Surgery?

Understanding the success rate of a surgery is crucial in making your decision. Your physician’s experience is important. Knowing how often they perform this procedure can also put your mind at ease and ensure that you are in good hands.

In some cases, a procedure may require more than one surgeon (your spine surgeon and another surgeon, such as a vascular surgeon) to carry out the procedure.

It would be very beneficial to know their qualifications as well.

4. Is Your Practice Devoted to Spine Surgery?

In most cases, your surgeon’s practice will be devoted to spine surgery. If your surgeon is fellowship-trained and board-certified, they will have the skills and experience needed to provide you with the best possible care.

Having a fellowship-trained surgeon is especially preferable if your surgery is a fusion, artificial disc replacement, or other more extensive procedure.

5. If I Want to Get a Second Opinion, Who Would You Recommend?

If you request a second opinion before scheduling surgery, your surgeon may be able to provide you with a recommendation. OrthoNeuro has several spine surgeons who could provide a second opinion if requested.

6. How Much Does Spine Surgery Cost?

The cost of spine surgery can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • The type of procedure being performed
  • Your insurance coverage
  • The location where the procedure is being performed
  • While most insurance companies cover at least a portion of the cost, it’s important to understand your policy and the specific coverage you have before undergoing a procedure.

7. What Does My Procedure Involve?

Your doctor will explain the type of anesthesia you will be given. Your surgeon will also explain whether they will make a large incision or a very small incision to complete your procedure.

8. What If I Refuse the Procedure?

If you decide not to have the surgical procedure, it would be helpful to ask your spine surgeon about the various outcomes that refusing spine surgery can lead to.

If your doctor is recommending surgery, it is most likely that conservative treatments have not eliminated your back pain.

Sometimes non-surgical options may still be available. However, if your doctor believes surgery will give you the greatest chance of reducing your pain, then it’s most likely the most effective choice.

9. What Should I Expect During Recovery?

Depending on your procedure (whether minimally invasive or complicated), you may be able to go home the same day, or your surgeon might recommend you stay overnight at the hospital.

Pain can be expected following your surgery, and your doctor may prescribe painkillers to ease discomfort.

Before your procedure, it may be helpful to designate a family member, friend, or someone else who is dependable to pick up your prescriptions. Most patients report feeling less pain within a few weeks.

Your doctor will likely provide guidelines on how to treat and clean your incision to avoid getting an infection. You may have to wear a back brace for a few weeks.

Additionally, your doctor may recommend that you start physical therapy. Ask your spine surgeon about the benefits of physical therapy post-surgery.

Your doctor will also remind you of the possible side effects you may experience during recovery, such as swelling and soreness. You will also be informed of what symptoms warrant immediate medical attention.

10. What Are My Restrictions Post-Surgery?

After your spine surgery, your surgeon may give you some restrictions to allow your body time to heal properly. Some of the most common restrictions include:

  • No bending or twisting at the waist
  • No lifting of anything heavier than 5-10 pounds
  • No driving for a certain time

It’s also recommended that you avoid consuming alcohol and using tobacco products while you’re healing.

Trust the Experienced Spine Surgeons at OrthoNeuro

Having spine surgery can be a life-changing decision. Thus, you want to ensure that you are in the best hands.

At OrthoNeuro, our board-certified spine surgeons are experts in performing spinal surgery and have helped thousands of patients return to an active and healthy lifestyle after their procedure.

Contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our offices located throughout Greater Columbus today!

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