How do you know when you need spine surgery?
When someone comes to us with extremity symptoms, we almost always suggest they first get an evaluation with their primary care physician. If a person is experiencing low back pain or neck pain, we will usually watch them over time and encourage them to maintain good, stable physical activity to see if the issue resolves. If the issue is not resolving with physical activity, over the counter treatments, or pain management and anti-inflammatory medication, the next step would be to see a doctor for an evaluation.
Many patients with spine problems can be treated non-surgically. Physical therapy, home exercises, medication and often times spinal injections are recommended prior to considering surgery. If the problem still isn’t resolved, then surgery becomes a good option.
For instance, if a patient has significant neurogenic pain in the extremities and non-surgical management has not provided relief, surgical intervention is the best decision. For those with symptoms related to spinal cord or nerve root compression, such as significant weakness in an arm or leg or limb, we may recommend surgical intervention if non-surgical management was unsuccessful.