1) 90% of back/neck problems will resolve without surgery.
2) Rates of recommending surgery for the same problem vary widely in different parts of the country (and world), suggesting that the indications for surgery are not always clear.
3) Some spinal conditions have a high success rate after surgery, while other spinal conditions have less predictable success rates following surgery.
4) 98% of all spine surgery is technically elective surgery, meaning it should be the choice of the patient, not something mandated by the surgeon.
Patients should always take an active part in the decision-making process for spine surgery. You need to be sure you understand the likelihood of success, the possibility of residual or worsened symptoms, the risks of anesthesia, the risks of the spine surgery itself, and chances of recurrence in the future. If your surgeon has insisted that you must have an operation or has not discussed all of the points above with you, then you may benefit from a surgical second opinion.
Have you been told you need spine surgery? Have you already had spine surgery? Let us know about your experience. We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments section below.
About Scott D. Boden, MD:
Dr. Boden is the Director of the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, an internationally renowned surgeon, lecturer, and teacher and the driving force behind the Emory University Orthopedics and Spine Hospital (EUOSH). Dr. Boden began practicing at Emory in 1992.