When you’re dealing with back pain that’s severe enough to warrant surgery, chances are your pain makes everyday decisions difficult. Add to that the decision to undergo surgery, and you have a very challenging load at a time when you may not be able to give full attention.
Yet, despite the distraction your pain may cause, making an informed and knowledgeable decision is crucial to your treatment and expectations. Seeking a second opinion is not only a good idea from your standpoint, reputable caregivers offering first opinions typically recommend and welcome second opinions, too. The reasons have to do with the nature of back pain and the uncertainties of some surgical solutions.
The progression of back pain treatment
For most people, back pain is temporary. It can last days, weeks, or months, but it usually resolves itself with time and rest. When pain persists longer than 12 weeks, then you’re entering chronic back pain territory.
Typically, a patient with chronic pain first sees their primary caregiver, who may guide the patient through the more conservative treatments for their pain. This can include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and even spinal injections.
When these treatments fail to achieve results, that caregiver may decide that surgery is needed and will then refer you to a back surgeon. The surgeon may agree with the diagnosis or may recommend alternate, nonsurgical treatment based on their specialization in the field.
Given the rate at which technology moves, a surgeon may be aware of treatment options that a general practitioner doesn’t yet know. This level of specialization is a key part of your back-pain care.
Second surgical opinions
Even though the specialist level represents a second opinion, you may still require additional input from another surgeon. There are usually obvious reasons for this. If diagnoses differ widely between the general practitioner and surgeon, you may feel better with the advice of a second surgeon.
If you feel you’re being rushed to an operating table, seeing a second surgeon can confirm or contradict this time pressure, and the break gives you additional time to research and explore options. You may find that another surgeon is a better match for you as a caregiver. Your comfort is a key element in the success of your surgery, so working with a practitioner with whom you connect can give you a better attitude toward your treatment.
Other reasons to seek second opinions
There are many reasons why you might want to seek another opinion, from basic logic to gut feelings. You may feel a second opinion is necessary when:
- No alternatives to a single procedure are discussed
- You suspect your first referral was made because of convenience
- You’ve had previous back surgery that requires additional work or revision surgery
- The surgeon recommends seeking a confirming opinion
- You’re not confident, for whatever reason, in the skill or competence of a surgeon
Dr. John Regan of Spine Group Beverly Hills is an internationally renowned pioneer in the field of minimally invasive back surgery. No matter what stage you’re at — referral, first, or second opinion — Dr. Regan has the expertise and wide base of experience you want when seeking a life free from pain. Contact either office of his practice by phone or using the online appointment request tool. Start back on the road to pain-free living today.