You have been living with back pain for a while, and now it's time to take control. Facing spine surgery can be overwhelming. No matter how prepared you are, there are going to be a lot of questions that need to be answered. But where do you begin? The first step is to explore your options. Your doctor should explain different treatment plans and why he/she prefers a certain one.
Many patients worry about taking too much of the doctor’s time, sounding "stupid," or are just afraid. There is no need to worry about any of that. Your spine surgeon understands your concerns and is ready to help get you through it all.
Preparation is key when talking with your spine surgeon about your options. Here are a few things to keep in mind when getting ready for your first appointment.
Describe Your Condition in Detail
Your doctor can't recommend options for treating your back pain unless he understands your condition. Be sure to clearly communicate all of your symptoms. Explain what your pain feels like, when you feel it most, how it has changed over the last weeks and months, etc. The more information your spine surgeon has to compare with your test results, the better decisions he will be able to make regarding your care.
Ask a Lot of Questions
Spine surgery is serious. Don’t jump into making any decisions regarding your spine health without asking a lot of questions. Think about what concerns you the most, and make a list of questions to take with you to your appointment. Here are a few to get you started:
- What options are available for treating my back pain?
- What is the most common procedure used to treat my condition and why?
- What are the success rates of this procedure?
- What are the long-term effects of this procedure?
- Am I a good candidate for this type of surgery? Why or why not?
- What is the recovery time?
- What can I expect before, during and after surgery?
- What are the risks involved?
Take Some Time to Digest What You Have Learned
Unless you are dealing with an emergency situation, no spine surgeon should ask you to make an immediate decision regarding surgery. Once you have had your main questions answered, take some time to think about your options and research them more fully. Make a second appointment with the doctor to make a final decision and begin making plans for your spinal surgery.
What to Look for in a Spine Surgeon
Being comfortable with your spine surgeon is vital to a good outcome. If you don't feel like you can talk with your doctor and are his partner in developing a spine health plan, then you will not have the confidence you need to proceed. Confidence in your doctor is a must to ensure that you get the kind of quality care you deserve. When choosing a surgeon to help fix your back pain, look for these important attributes:
- A caring attitude. Your doctor should be your No. 1 advocate. He should care about more than fixing your spine -- he should care about how you are handling the entire situation.
- Knowledge and experience. Be sure to choose a doctor with the knowledge and experience you can trust.
- Easy to talk with. Not every doctor is easy to talk with. Some find it difficult to talk in anything but “medical-speak,” which can leave some patients feeling misunderstood. Finding a doctor who is easy to communicate with, and understand, is important when it comes to making you feel comfortable and confident.
- Patient.If your doctor makes you feel rushed during appointments, you will likely be left feeling confused and anxious before, during and after surgery. It is important to find a doctor who takes the time to answer your questions thoroughly and makes sure you understand all aspects of your treatment.
Finding the Right Spine Surgeon
If you are facing spinal surgery, you want a doctor that is kind, compassionate and knowledgeable. Dr. Kelly Kiehm of Capital City Neurosurgery is a leader in the Columbus, Ohio area. He understands the importance of educating his patients and strives to ensure that everyone who walks into his office leaves with a better understanding of their condition and the treatment options available. To learn more about how Dr. Kiehm and his expert staff can help ease your back pain, be sure to call today for an appointment.