Many people don’t have a lot of experience with spine surgery, so if they get to the point in life where they need an operation, they often turn to friends, family or the internet for answers to some of their most common questions. Unfortunately, while these sources may be well intended, they may not serve as the most factual sources of information. Sometimes this can lead to misconceptions and misunderstandings about an upcoming procedure.
To help clear up some of these misconceptions, we decided to put together a blog that focuses on dispelling some of the most common myths about spine surgery.
Here’s a closer look at four myths about spine surgery.
1. Surgery Will Eliminate Pain and Improve Function – While this is the end goal, spine surgery alone doesn’t accomplish this. To make a full recovery and experience the best results, you’re going to need to put in the work on your end once surgery is complete. You’ll need to actively partake in physical therapy and other rehabilitation exercises to strengthen key areas and improve range of motion. Surgery can be a god send, but recovery requires plenty of work on the patient’s end, so don’t assume that the operation alone will solve all your spinal issues.
2. Surgery Will Hurt – The surgery itself will not hurt because you will be given local or general anesthesia prior to the procedure. With that said, there will be pain once the procedure is complete and the anesthesia wears off. However, pain will be effectively monitored and controlled by your care team. You’ll want to expect some pain and discomfort, because the goal of post-op painkillers is not to fully eliminate pain, they are designed to make it more manageable. This pain tends to subside the further you get from your surgical date, and your surgeon will walk you through the basics of pain management to ensure you safely begin and end an opioid regimen. There will be some pain, but it won’t be during the procedure.
3. There Are A Lot Of Risks – Every surgical procedure carries some risk, and we can’t sit here and guarantee that even single patient’s surgery will go perfectly, but oftentimes we find that patient’s fears over the risks and complications are overblown. Dr. Chang and his team have conducted thousands of spinal operations and use the latest in imaging and procedural techniques to greatly reduce the risk of complications and surgical errors. We also conduct physical exams, ask patients about their symptoms and review medical histories to do everything in our power to prevent surprises during surgery. If you have fears or concerns before the procedure, bring them up to your surgeon, because odds are they can help put you at ease.
4. Spine Surgery Is Not Effective – Maybe you heard a story from a co-worker who claimed that their back pain got worse after surgery, or you did some research online and read stories about people who still had back pain after their procedure. While there are always outliers, it’s important to note that spine surgery is highly effective at correcting functional issues and reducing pain. Oftentimes dissatisfaction with surgery comes from mismanaged expectations, and we do our best to explain to each patient what they should expect from the operation. Don’t expect spine surgery to completely eliminate your pain and restore complete function unless your surgeon is hopeful it is possible. Know that for many patients, pain and discomfort reduction – not elimination – is the goal. Having mismanaged expectations can leave a patient feeling as if their operation was not effective despite the fact it went exactly as the surgeon planned.
For more information, or for help with your back pain, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.