How to Choose a Spine Surgeon: Everything You Need to Know

Every year, approximately half a million Americans undergo spine surgery. Almost half of these people experience discomfort or pain after surgery.

One way to ensure you don’t suffer unnecessarily after a similar surgery is by carefully considering your options for spine surgeons.

Here’s your guide on choosing a spine surgeon and ensuring a smooth procedure.

Ask for Recommendations

Your doctor is your first point of reference for a spine surgeon.

They’re likely to recommend a specialist right away if they suspect your condition is beyond their realm of expertise. If they don’t, you should ask them, as some specialists require a referral from your GP and your health insurer might demand it, too.

You can find reviews and ratings for almost anything published on the internet nowadays, including medical professionals. Reading online reviews can give you a good idea of different patients’ experiences and satisfaction levels with spine surgeons.

You should also consider peer-recommended surgeons, such as those listed with New York Super Doctors.

Finally, ask anyone you know who’s undergone successful back surgery if they’re willing to share their experience and their surgeon’s contact details.

Choose a Spine Surgeon With Great Credentials

Apart from the basic educational qualifications, i.e. a doctor of medicine or osteopathic medicine degree. There are two other criteria for choosing a spine surgeon.

Board Certification

To achieve board certification, surgeons must complete additional training via ABOS (the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery). Afterward, they must complete several years of residency training and pass a grueling examination.

Fellowship Training

Every surgeon undergoes three extra phases of training after medical school. These are:

  • A one-year internship
  • 4 to 6 years of residency training
  • 1 year of fellowship training

During fellowship training, a surgeon shadows an experienced specialist surgeon to learn the finer details of the trade. This is the highest level of training that any medical specialist can achieve.

Once they’ve completed their fellowship training, orthopedic surgeons have 13 years of academic study and practical experience to their credit.

For the most dedicated surgeons, even that isn’t enough. They may opt for further ongoing learning by signing up for extra courses on improving spinal health or non-invasive surgery.

Look on the surgeon’s website for information about any extra services they offer as well as industry affiliations.

Consider Spinal Surgery Experience

Although any board-certified spine surgeon already has several years of experience to their name, you should still look at how many years of experience they have in their field.

A long-standing surgical career is a sign of success and customer satisfaction.

Check how often the specialist performs surgery. If they only venture into the operating theater occasionally, they might not be up-to-date with the latest techniques.

It’s important to check what kind of surgery they undertake most regularly, as they’ll have the most experience in this field.

It’s best to choose a surgeon who routinely performs the required procedure. For instance, an orthopedic surgeon is best for mechanical spine problems, whereas a neurosurgeon is best for nervous system disorders.

Arrange a Consultation

Once you’ve pinpointed a top selection of surgeons in your area, call their offices and ask for an appointment.

During this meeting, you should ask as many questions as you need to. These may include:

  • What is causing my pain?
  • Is surgery necessary?
  • Can we try something else first?
  • How long does the surgery take?
  • What is the recovery time?
  • Will my health insurance pay for the treatment?
  • Can you describe the procedure to me?
  • Must I undergo any post-operative treatments?

A committed surgeon will go into great detail about your condition, relevant treatments, and your recovery outlook. They will answer your questions patiently and kindly.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking openly to a prospective surgeon, you should continue your search elsewhere.

Every specialist should consider non-invasive procedures before they recommend surgery. Remember, there are only a few instances where spine surgery is essential.

Your surgeon will only perform surgery upon your request. They must explain all the alternatives to you, so you can make an informed decision.

They should also invite you back for a second consultation once you’ve had time to consider your options. This gives you time to think about any further questions you may have.

Ask for Extra References

You should also ask the surgeon or their office manager for patient references. Most practitioners will happily give you a list of satisfied customers.

Medical professionals can’t share a patient’s information without their consent, so you’ll know these previous patients are willing to discuss their experience with you.

Some good questions to ask previous patients include:

  • How was your overall experience with the doctor?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Will you refer a family member to the doctor for treatment?
  • How did you feel after your treatment?

Every surgeon should review your case history before offering suggestions for your back problems. This allows them to review whether previous remedies were carried out correctly.

Finally, ask the surgeon if they can recommend anyone else for you to talk to. Top surgeons have your best interests in mind and will refer you to another professional for a second opinion without hesitation.

Review All Your Options

At New York City Spine, we specialize in a wide range of back treatments. We are happy to assist you with all your questions and put your mind at ease regarding your back problems.

Do you want to choose a spine surgeon offering a wide range of minimally invasive and surgical solutions for your spine? Get in touch to start your journey toward relief from pain.

At New York City Spine Surgery, our standard for excellent care means treating you as a whole person, and not just another spine disorder on a chart.

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