You’ve been told you need surgery for degenerative disc disease and stenosis of the spine. Now what?

Dr Leisa

Many patients ask me this every day. In almost all of the cases, surgery has been recommended. The problems start once the patient decides against having the surgery. I have rarely, if ever, heard a patient say that they were given a non-invasive option at that point. This is unfair to the patient.

I’m actually hearing more and more patients tell me that they have nowhere to turn once they decide against spinal surgery. Many of them come to my office and by that point, they are in tears. I know I have written specific articles on the options, but today I will try and walk you through the process of what to do next.

First of all, once you are told surgery is necessary, do your homework. Read through the papers you will have to sign regarding side effects and outcome. One thing not a single patient has told me, is that the surgeon or the physician recommending the procedure, has not told them the percentage of failed spinal surgeries. That number could go as high as 76%. Of course the patients who have had failed surgeries tell me that no matter what anyone said, they would have had the surgery. They were in so much pain they would have done anything. That is such a sad fact. In this day and age, for any provider of any walk of medicine to not admit that there are other options (other than emergency procedures) than what they offer, is not right. You have to read through the paperwork, and ask your questions. If not that day, take the time and do your research, write down the questions and go back to get your answers. If you are not comfortable with the answers you see or do not even get answers, then it’s time to move to an alternative method or another surgeon.

Another suggestion I have, is to ask others who have not had the surgery but done something else. In many cases you may find the right direction to turn to by asking others. What you want to be sure not to factor in, is cost. If you are looking for the least expensive route, that may not be the best choice. Some of the most effective treatments are not covered on insurance.

Try not to let this be a factor in your decision. We are human, and also tend to go into the path of least resistance. Choosing a quick option once again, is not always the best. As a matter of fact, in 27 years I have never known an instance where I have prevented someone’s spinal surgery overnight.

Your condition did not happen in a couple of days or a couple of weeks, and it is certainly not going to be resolved in a couple of days or couple of weeks. In the case of severe degeneration, disc disease and stenosis, the condition may not be entirely resolved, but will be treated so you can enjoy your life without drugs or surgery. This takes time by both the practitioner and the patient. If you choose an alternative route, it is going to take some work on your part as well.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that surgery involves no work on the patient’s part. Changing your diet to noninflammatory food choices prior to surgery or an alternative method, is necessary, as well as other things. I’ve written articles on that and you can read them on my website. Therapy, downtime, side effects, and outcome must be taken into consideration prior to any decision for spinal surgery. When choosing an alternative therapy, downtime and dangerous side effects are generally not an issue. When choosing an alternative treatment, do the same due diligence. Interview the provider and ask your questions. Be mindful of the time allowed to ask those questions, and if you feel that you need extra time, let them know prior to your appointment.

Any encounter with a medical provider should be a comfortable one. Regardless of the method and provider, be honest with them. Let them know who else you have spoken to, the facts you have received, and any research you have done. This allows the provider to give you their side of the story and either assure you that what you have been told or read about is true or not.

The decision of what to do next is a process. It does not happen in one visit or one day. Take the time to see what is the best for you. And please remember none of us have a magic wand. Whether it’s surgery or an alternative treatment, no outcomes can be promised 100%. The track record of the provider is very important and must be considered. Promises can never be made in medicine.

I hope this helps with the decision-making process if you have been told you need surgery. If you have or anyone else you know has been told this, please book an appointment for a complimentary consultation in my office. I will be honest with you, and I promise to take the time necessary to help you feel comfortable.

For anyone who would like to read all of my articles, they are on my website found at the bottom of this article.
For any questions regarding my articles, please email me at [email protected]
Leisa-Marie Grgula. DC
Chiropractic Physician
Accurate Care Medical Wellness Center
18261 N. Pima Rd. Ste. #115