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Seven Signs it’s Time to Consider Spine Surgery

Aug 7, 2014

Many conditions, diseases, or injuries can cause problems with your spine. The spine is connected to many of the muscle groups in the body, and because of this, just about any part of the body may be affected by spinal problems. Even minor problems with your spine can have a major impact on your quality of life. If your spinal problems are particularly bad, you may require surgery to correct them.

When Should I Consider Surgery?
There is a risk of complications with any surgery. You should only have surgery when its benefits outweigh the risks involved. In patients with severe damage to the spine, surgery may be the best or even the only realistic option for recovery. Of course, you must still consult a qualified physician, but here are seven signs that indicate it’s time to consider spine surgery:

You Cannot Function Normally

As your body ages, you should expect to lose some of your mobility. However, if your spinal issues keep you from functioning normally, it could be a sign of serious problems. If so, these problems could be improved with the appropriate treatment.

Your Quality of Life is Impacted

Pain and reduced function caused by spinal problems can significantly limit your ability to participate in life. If your spinal problems are affecting your quality of life, it is time to see a specialist.

Other Treatments Have Failed

Very few doctors would recommend spinal surgery without first exhausting nonsurgical treatments. If you have tried nonsurgical treatments and your condition is still not improving, you may need surgery.

You Have a Severe Injury

In most cases, you have time to consider your treatment options and make an informed decision about spinal surgery. Most doctors and patients would prefer to avoid surgery when possible, but this is not always realistic. In cases involving severe injury, patients may require spinal surgery on short notice.

Your Condition is Quickly Worsening

Progressive spinal conditions like osteoporosis tend to get worse over time. If you have a progressive condition, you should see a specialist regularly to monitor your condition. During these visits, be sure to discuss your future treatment options, including surgery. When and if your condition takes a sudden downturn, you will be ready to make a decision based on the facts.

You Have a Deformity

Many spinal deformities such as scoliosis and kyphosis involve excessive curvatures of the spine. In the early stages, these conditions are often treated with physical therapy and braces. If the condition is too advanced, surgery may be necessary.

You Experience Symptoms of Nerve Damage

If your spinal problems cause nerve damage, you could end up permanently disabled. Watch for common signs of nerve damage such as tingling and numbness in the legs. If you have severe symptoms such as bladder or bowel incontinence, you should see a specialist as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you need spinal surgery. Do not attempt to self-diagnose your problems, consult a physician who has the experience and training to make the correct diagnosis. If you would like to learn more about spinal surgery, download our free e-book,The Patient’s Manual to Spine Surgery.