How to Tell If Back Surgery Is Right for You - NBC Southern California

How to Tell If Back Surgery Is Right for You

NBC4's Dr. Bruce Hensel recently underwent back surgery, and has tips that could help determine if the procedure is right for you



    How to Tell If Back Surgery Is Right for You
    Dmitriy Shironosov, Shutterstock

    Not everyone who suffers from back pain needs surgery. And while many patients would be better off avoiding a procedure, surgery can help alleviate back pain in some cases.

    Here’s a breakdown of how to tell if your back pain could be helped by surgery:

    Patients who may need back surgery:

    • Back pain is accompanied by weakness, numbness, paralysis in any area, loss of bladder or bowel function
    • Back pain interferes with normal life
    • Pain does not respond to conservative treatments (listed below)

    Non-surgical treatments for back pain:

    • Anti-inflammatory medicine (ask your doctor if it is safe for you)
    • Ice
    • Acupuncture
    • Physical therapy
    • Ultrasound
    • Electrical stimulation
    • Pain medicines
    • Muscle relaxants
    • Steroid injection

    Questions to ask and facts to tell your doctor:

    • Choose a surgeon and an anesthesiologist who have extensive experience with the procedure
    • Tell them your allergies and medical conditions
    • Get a full workup before surgery
    • Ask how long the surgery will take
    • Ask how long it will take to recover
    • Ask what side effects to expect
    • Ask when and who to call if you have questions or problems
    • Get a clear list of things you should or should not do while healing

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