Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon, Part 1

By the rediscover Patient Education Team

Having any major surgery, including spine surgery, is a very big decision. Asking questions of your spine surgeon is important to ensure you understand the surgical procedure, you have the correct expectations for the day of the surgery and your return to home and also understand your recovery process. As it can sometimes be challenging to remember all of the things you may want to ask your surgeon, we’ve prepared a list that you can print out and take notes on to help you to remember after your discussion.


Evaluation Appointment

During this appointment be prepared to describe your pain, where it is located, what makes it better, what makes it worse, what physical limitations it causes, what medications have you taken for it, what therapies have you tried, etc. Your practice will likely have individuals that will record your history and symptoms, which will be utilized by your surgeon to provide guidance and a process for determining your condition. Your goals for this visit should be to provide the providers with the information they need to diagnose you, to learn as much as you can from their initial evaluation, and to make sure you understand the process moving forward.

Print out the below and bring to your evaluation appointment so you can ask your spine surgeon or their physician assistant or nurse practitioner.


Questions to Ask:


•   For which spinal conditions am I being evaluated?

•   How will you determine my condition?

•   Will the evaluation provide answers as to what is causing my pain? Other symptoms?

•   Will the evaluation determine a course of treatment?

•   What tests are needed during the evaluation?

o  Are there any drawbacks to conducting these tests?

o  Will my insurance cover these tests?

•   How long will the evaluation take?

o  What actions should I take in the time before I am able to be fully diagnosed?

•   With what degree of certainty will the proposed tests identify the cause of my pain and/or other symptoms?


Keep an eye out for the next part of this series, coming soon!

Important Note: The patient information presented is for general education purposes only. As with any spine surgery, there are potential benefits, complications, and risks associated with disc replacement and spinal fusion procedures. Individual results may vary. It is important that you discuss the possible risks and potential benefits of various procedures with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your physician’s best judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a specific surgical procedure.

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