The short answer is no, a referral to a spine surgeon does not always mean surgery.
It’s a common, but incorrect, the perception that a referral to an orthopedic spine surgeon always means surgery is necessary. In our experience, the majority of patients with lower back or neck problems can be effectively treated without surgery.
In our practice, the first step in the management of anyone with a cervical or lumbar complaint is arriving at an accurate diagnosis that adequately explains the symptoms the patient is experiencing. This always involves a detailed evaluation, a thorough physical examination, and is often supplemented with x-rays and advanced imaging modalities such as MRI scans, CT scans and other diagnostic testing.
Once a diagnosis is established, a discussion then takes place where a therapeutic roadmap is established. This roadmap is customized for every patient and their specific diagnosis, taking into account their activity levels, goals, and needs. The treatments may involve physical therapy, certain medications, and/or targeted injections to achieve pain relief.
We have assembled a world-class team of physical therapists, neurologists, radiologists and interventional pain management specialists with great expertise, who work in concert with Dr. Saadat to restore your function and quality of life.
Of course, not every spinal problem is amenable to non-surgical care, and there are circumstances where surgery is necessary or recommended. Conditions such as progressive cervical myelopathy and severe lumbar stenosis, and more rare circumstances when a fracture, infection or tumor is involved, fall into this category. Sometimes, pain from cervical radiculopathy or lumbar radiculopathy persists despite maximal non-surgical management.
Yet in other situations, a previous spinal surgery may have failed in achieving the desired results, necessitating corrective revision surgery. In these circumstances, we devise a customized surgical plan for each patient, taking into account the specifics of their imaging findings.
Our surgical philosophy is that surgery should be performed only when necessary, and it should involve the least invasive and most effective techniques to accomplish explicit and clear goals. Whenever possible, we use motion-preservation techniques or non-fusion options that preserve the natural spinal motion and shorten the postoperative recovery time.
Spinal conditions are often complex and sophisticated, but so is our understanding and approach to solving them. If you have not received an adequate diagnosis, or have been offered surgery, visit us for a second opinion.