Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Don’t Be Spineless: Ask for a Second Opinion on Back Surgery

Dear Dr. Walt,

I have a bad back. One doctor has recommended spinal surgery, but I’ve heard that spinal surgeries have a very low rate of success. Is this a surgery I should only get as an absolute last resort?

—Having Low Back Pain in Louisiana

Dear Down in the Back on the Bayou,

Low back pain is one of the most common complaints I see in my practice. It typically responds to a wide variety of nonsurgical treatments, such as oral and topical medications, heat and ice therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, physical therapy, and other therapies.

The Mayo Clinic says, “Back surgery can help relieve some causes of back pain, but it’s rarely necessary. Most back pain resolves on its own within two months.” They add, “However, back surgery might be an option if conservative treatments haven’t worked and the pain is persistent and disabling. Furthermore, back surgery more predictably relieves associated pain or numbness that goes down one or both arms or legs.”

I tell my patients that before you ever agree to back surgery, get a second opinion from a qualified spine specialist. Spine surgeons may hold different opinions about when to operate, what type of surgery to perform and whether — for some spine conditions — surgery is warranted at all.

Dr. Walt

This Q&A was published in the September 2016 edition of Today’s Christian Living.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2016. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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1 Response to Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Don’t Be Spineless: Ask for a Second Opinion on Back Surgery

  1. Terry Odom says:

    Hi Walt. I used to have severe back pain every 3-4 months. Then I got an inversion table which I use 4-5 times a week. I haven’t had any significant back pain in the past 7 years since using the inversion table on a regular basis. I highly recommend it!!! Terry Odom, MD

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