Four questions to ask your doctor before considering degenerative spine surgery as a treatment option
A degenerative spine describes any of a number of spinal conditions that can develop as a natural part of the aging process. This includes conditions such as spinal osteoarthritis, bulging or herniated discs and spinal stenosis, among others that cause neck or back pain, numbness, tingling, stiffness or other symptoms.
What to ask your physician after receiving a degenerative spine diagnosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with a degenerative spine, your first thought might be, “I need surgery.” However, surgery is seen as a last resort, rather than a first option to consider. Before you start exploring degenerative spine surgery, here are some questions to ask your physician:
- Are there any conservative treatments I should try? Typically, your physician will start by recommending a variety of less invasive treatment options. These may include doing low-impact exercises on a regular basis, using pain medications and hot/cold therapy to manage symptoms and making lifestyle changes such as losing weight or improving posture. Some patients even choose to explore alternative therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation as well. In many cases, a combination of conservative treatments will sufficiently alleviate symptoms and surgery will not become necessary.
- How can I prevent my condition from getting worse? For individuals with mild conditions, the symptoms may be manageable. You’ll want to learn about ways to promote a healthy spine to slow down the effects of the constant wear and tear it endures. This may include working with a physical therapist to learn targeted stretching techniques, quitting smoking and avoiding certain activities that have a high impact on the spine.
- When should I consider surgery as a treatment option? Some patients will eventually need degenerative spine surgery, even if they’ve tried conservative approaches already. In cases where symptoms worsen or do not respond to other treatments, surgery may become a consideration. Your physician can help you determine whether or not it’s the right next step for you to take.
- Is minimally invasive surgery an option for me? In cases where a physician does recommend surgery, it’s important to know that there are still options available. For example, minimally invasive techniques at Laser Spine Institute offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery.^
Degenerative spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute
For individuals who do need to consider degenerative spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive spinal procedures to treat many different conditions that affect the spine. If you’d like to find out if you’re a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review.*