There are many popular misconceptions and beliefs about spine surgery. Often, like all myths and stories, they have a basis in truth. Nevertheless, they are misconceptions and it is vital that people do not make decisions about their overall health based on these.
Rather, they should make an appointment with a spine surgeon to find out what is really going on. Let’s take a look at 7 most common misconceptions about spine surgery and surgeons in general.
1. It Is Always Needed for a Damaged Disc
If you have a herniated disc, which is one of the common spinal conditions, then you may believe that you have to have surgery in order to repair the damage. This isn’t true, however. In fact, the majority of people find sufficient relief using nonsurgical options such as physical therapy and low-impact exercises. Generally, these are the first courses of treatment before a surgeon would even think about offering surgery. And, in most cases, the results from non-surgical alternatives are more than enough.
2. It Will Fully Relieve Back Pain
In some cases, surgery does relieve back pain. The majority of patients can return to their regular activities after surgery. Surgery is designed to reduce pain, restore function, and correct spinal problems. It is vital, however, that you were properly diagnosed before your surgery, to ensure that the exact problem has been determined. This will also increase the success rate of the surgery. At the same time, you have some responsibilities yourself, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you are overweight and don’t lose weight, or if you smoke, you may discover that your back pain is back.
3. It Has Such Serious Side Effects, It’s Not Worth It
Every single surgery has a degree of risk attached to it. The majority of people who need spine surgery find that their back and neck pain is so bad, it negatively impacts their quality of life. They often cannot work or even do household chores. In this case, the potential complications and risks associated with spinal surgery can be outweighed by the opportunity to relieve these symptoms. Whether or not the pros outweigh the cons depends on the individual patient. If this is not true at the present time, it may be later if your condition gets worse.
You do have to rest for a few days after surgery, but this is usually for no longer than a week. Furthermore, you will be helped with pain management straight after surgery. Surgery is now minimally invasive, and this means some people go home the day they had the surgery. The less invasive your surgery is, the quicker your recovery time will be. This is because the incision will be smaller, and fewer muscles will have to be affected along the natural plane of your muscle.
4. It’s Dangerous
This is related to the previous concern and is one that most people are told by those around them. Even social media and the online world put out messages that you should not have spine surgery because it is so unsafe. While it is certainly true that it has been a last resort option for a long time, medical sciences have now made it far safer. Techniques and instruments have improved, institutional safety measures such as having time out before surgery has been implemented, and there is a greater understanding of the spine today. The stories that are heard from others and in the news tend to be the exception rather than the norm. The media is often not concerned with the good news stories, but rather with highlighting situations in which things go wrong.
5. You Must Stay in Bed for Months After Surgery
This myth stems from the traditional method of doing spinal surgery, requiring a long open incision. Complication risks were high for such kind of surgery. Today, however, spine surgery is minimally invasive. Thanks to the much smaller incisions, there is almost no bleeding and scarring is minimal as well. As a result, hospital time is significantly reduced, as is the time people have to spend at home to recover.
Minimally invasive surgery is actually available for the majority of procedures today. They are not always used, but they are becoming more in demand due to their significant benefits. Patients who have had this type of surgery recover much more quickly and notice a lower negative impact on their quality of life after the procedure. Overall, these techniques are much safer, which is why they are preferred by surgeons as well.
Whether or not you will be offered minimally invasive surgery will depend on your particular needs. Sometimes, traditional techniques may be recommended. Your surgeon will be able to determine how you are most likely to get the most positive outcome, and the pros and cons of the options will be discussed with you as well.
6. If You Visit a Spine Surgeon, You Will Need Surgery
Your physician may recommend you to a spine surgeon. However, this referral is not done because you need surgery, but rather because it can provide the physician with a unique perspective on your problem. While it may be that surgery is indeed necessary, this is not always the case. In fact, surgeons will do all they can to help you avoid going under the knife.
7. Having Surgery Once Means You Will Need It Again
This is not usually the case. If someone has complex trauma to the spine, it may require multiple procedures in order to restore function and stability. However, such cases are rare. Generally, people only have to have surgery once. After surgery, you should be provided with information on how to make important lifestyle changes, including engaging in regular exercise, to ensure that you continue to enjoy the benefits of the surgery.
If you have persistent pain in your neck, leg, or back to the point of noticing a negative impact on your overall quality of life, then help is out there. Don’t dismiss spine surgery just because you have heard some rumors. Rather, have a consultation with a expert surgeon to find out exactly what can be done.