There are a few questions most of us never imagine ourselves asking. “Should I see a spinal surgeon?” is one of them. Interestingly enough, back pain is one of the most common complaints that general healthcare providers address. Back pain is also one of the most common reasons given for missed work. According to statistics, more than 90% of people in the world will experience acute or chronic back pain at some point. Back pain may be common, but it is not a problem any one of us must accept as a normal part of aging. When necessary, spinal surgery may be an ideal solution. But when is it the right time? We’ll discuss that here.
Should I Get Back Surgery?
If you struggle with low-grade back pain all the time or you sometimes get back pain that is severe enough to affect your physical ability, you have a good reason to talk with your doctor. Too often, people procrastinate in getting the care they need for back pain. This could be because they believe their pain will eventually go away or they don’t recognize that their pain could get worse. Some people avoid seeing their doctor because they do not want to be given prescription pain medication, while others fear their doctor will recommend surgery.
The only way to know what might help your back pain is to see a doctor who is accustomed to treating this condition (hint: most are). When possible, doctors prefer to prescribe nonsurgical interventions first. This doesn’t have to mean medication, it could mean physical therapy and rest. Typically, surgical procedures are only considered when other approaches have failed.
Some of the common reasons that surgery may be recommended include:
- Infection has been found in the spine
- Conservative treatments have not improved a herniated disc
- Bone spurs have developed and are compressing spinal nerves
- Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs continues to worsen
- One or more spinal vertebra has dislocated or fractured
- Nerve compression in the spine is affecting the use of the hands, bladder, or bowels