This morning Stephanie got to speak with Dr. Glenn Harper, a Neurosurgeon with Advanced Pain Care.
How does a neurosurgeon decide if someone needs spine surgery?
The first thing we’re going to do is spend time with the patient and have them describe their pain. After that we do a physical exam and those are the important portion. After that we want to look at some sort of imaging to try and correlate some of the symptoms the patient is talking about. If we don’t see a correlation there probably is no need for surgery. If we do see a correlation we want to know things like is there a neurologic problem, or a deficit or weakness the patient is having. We will try to avoid surgery as much as possible and if we can’t avoid surgery it can be a great option for people.
Why does it seem that a patient that gets one spine surgery always seems to need another one in the future? Is that normal?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s normal, but it is a normal question I answer often. People often ask it in a way that makes it sound like their first surgery will cause the need for a second surgery. The spine is very complicated. Outside of trauma, just because we fix one small area of the spine doesn’t mean we don’t stop the degeneration of other parts. A second problem can be a result of the surgery such as a fusion surgery. It can add some stress to the levels above and below and about 1/5 people with a fusion might need another surgery in the future as well.
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Sponsored by Advanced Pain Care. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.