Before You Consider Spine Surgery

Neurosurgery One (formerly South Denver Neurosurgery) advocates the following steps be taken to address your back and neck pain prior to considering surgical options.

  • Obtain a thorough health history and physical exam from your primary care physician. A complete health history and a physical exam will help pinpoint the cause of the pain, while imaging tests (x-ray, CT, MRI) and diagnostic injections can help further identify the underlying issue.
  • Identify the underlying problem. Once your doctor has determined the cause of the pain, he or she can help you understand your options. While surgery is rarely the first line of treatment, it may be the optimal option for pain related to cancer, certain accidents, and advanced conditions, including scoliosis, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and degenerative disc disease.
  • If possible, pursue conservative treatment. Eighty percent of back pain sufferers will find relief with conservative treatment options, which include:
    • Physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage.
    • Medications such as NSAIDs (e.g. ibuprofen), muscle relaxers, and, in some cases, carefully controlled use of narcotic pain medications.
    • Steroid injections, including epidural injections, tailored to the origination point of the pain.
    • Patient weight loss, smoking cessation, and control of diabetes and hypertension.

If you have tried these options and your pain has not diminished after six months or your pain is negatively affecting your quality of life (preventing you from sleeping or preventing you from exercising), spine surgery might be right for you. 


How to Choose a Spine Surgeon



Spine fusion has become the 19th most common surgery in the US. But is it the best surgery for you?

Read this guide to understand the research showing when low back fusion works best.