Deciding whether to have spine surgery or not is never easy. To complicate matters, there is a lot of misinformation about spine surgery out there, including various myths circulating on the Internet. Deciphering between fact and fiction is essential when your health and well-being weigh in the balance. What follows are several common fallacies regarding spine surgery, along with ways to determine if it’s the right decision for you.
I will never be able to get back to doing things I love.
This first myth is easy to debunk. Chronic back or neck pain can be debilitating at any age while interfering with your ability to walk, bend, sit, or stand. Once performing normal, everyday tasks becomes nearly impossible, feelings like anxiety and depression are common. As the pain worsens, an inability to work often leads to financial hardship and strained relationships.
Because an athlete’s identity and daily schedule are dependent on staying active, participating once again in the sport they love becomes a priority. With or without surgery, getting you back to doing the things you love should be the primary goal when working with a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal conditions.
Recent advancements in the field of back and neck surgery, including minimally invasive surgical procedures, have revolutionized the way spine surgeons treat patients.
I am too old or young for surgery.
This statement is also false. While no one wants to have spine surgery, there comes a time when one’s quality of life is affected so much that it makes perfect sense. Age itself is not an accurate measurement of a patient’s health or ability to tolerate a surgical procedure. In other words, not all patients of the same age present with the same surgery risks.
Regardless of age, the decision to proceed with surgery will depend on the results of a thorough preoperative workup by your surgeon. Based on factors that include a medical history, and physical examination, your doctor will share any preoperative and postoperative risks (stroke, blood clots, etc.).
For those with a definitive surgical indication who are young and healthy, there may never be a better time than the present to tolerate a surgical procedure and experience a complete recovery.
Spine surgery is never successful.
As with any surgical procedure, spine surgery is sometimes unsuccessful, and complications are possible. In rare instances, patients may experience issues such as a prolonged recovery or improper healing. In general, any patient with unrealistic expectations could feel that the surgery was unsuccessful afterward.
For all these reasons, you must discuss your expectations upfront with your doctor. With a shared decision-making model that includes realistic expectations for patient, family, and physician, there is every reason to expect a successful surgery.
Researching patient reviews and success stories is a reliable way to find the right surgeon to partner in your care – someone who can confidently navigate you through what could potentially be a difficult time in your life.
Surgery is my only option.
While there may be times when surgery is recommended, patients should never feel pressured on how to manage their spine health. There are always options, ranging from conservative management to surgery. Conservative management may include medications, oral steroids, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, acupuncture, aqua therapy, bracing, injections, and chiropractic care.
Chiropractic care is a replacement for surgery.
Chiropractors undergo specialized training on how to diagnose and treat spine disorders, including cervical kyphosis. But can a chiropractor fix kyphosis? Before and after chiropractor case study results would seem to indicate that milder forms of cervical kyphosis – for example, postural kyphosis – can be reversed after a few chiropractic adjustment appointments.
However, many people choose to delay spine surgery and see a chiropractor instead due to fear and misinformation. And although it’s true that chiropractic care can reverse milder forms of kyphosis, a more serious form such as Scheuermann’s kyphosis typically requires surgery so the patient can enjoy an active lifestyle once again.
I will be disabled after spine surgery.
When compared to traditional surgical methods, minimally invasive spinal surgery presents fewer risks and potential complications because it involves a smaller area and smaller incisions. While there are risks involved with any surgical procedure, they are significantly lower when you choose the right spine surgeon to perform the procedure.
Months of recovery in bed are required.
This is another common misconception with no basis in fact. Traditional open spine surgery requires a long incision in the back and comes with a higher risk of complications. Today’s highly trained and experienced back doctors individually treat each patient with the least invasive methods possible.
A minimally invasive surgical procedure means a smaller incision, less bleeding, minimal scarring, and a much shorter recovery time than a traditional open spine procedure. In most cases, patients that undergo minimally invasive surgery experience much shorter hospital stays and recovery times. Some patients can even return home the same day!
Spinal surgery will cause you to be in even more pain.
Wrong again. In rare cases, patients complain of ongoing pain even after surgery. However, these situations are the exception and not the rule. The few patients who have a negative experience tend to be the most vocal, drowning out the many other people who have had very positive experiences.
If someone is experiencing pain after a surgical procedure it is likely that they either received the wrong type of procedure or surgery was not necessary at all. That’s why it is so important for patients to see a back doctor with the required training and experience to accurately diagnose spinal conditions and recommend the best treatment.
When performed correctly by a highly trained back specialist, a minimally invasive surgical treatment can alleviate your chronic pain when nothing else seems to work!
Most people who have spinal surgery will need another surgery soon after.
This popular myth is also blatantly untrue. When you choose the right spine doctor, get the right diagnosis, and receive the right surgical treatment, it is highly unlikely that you will ever need another surgical procedure for the same ailment.
A reputable spine surgeon will take the time to properly assess each patient so they can accurately diagnose their chronic back or neck pain. Based on the diagnosis, they will then recommend the best treatment, whether that happens to be a conservative management approach or a minimally invasive surgical procedure.
Your Experienced Spine Care Specialists in Chicago
At The Spine Center, we’re dedicated to providing you with high-quality, personalized back and neck care. We strive to offer efficient and professional services to our patients, delivered with integrity and honesty in a cohesive, family-like environment. We have a solid commitment to excellence in diagnosing and treating spinal injuries and conditions spanning all age groups.
As fellowship-trained physicians with over 50 years of experience treating spinal conditions, we offer patient recommendations for treatment, including conservative care, non-operative treatment options, and customized surgical solutions. Our physicians serve as innovators in technology, actively participate in national and international research studies, and are at the forefront of medical knowledge. If you or a loved one suffer from back or neck pain, call The Spine Center today at (847) 698-9330 to schedule a consultation.