Is Back Surgery Worth The Risk?

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Spine Tips College Students

If you are considering undergoing spine surgery, you want to weigh all your options and determine if it is the right option for you. Determining if the operation is worth the risk is also one of the main focuses of your spine specialist. Through conversations with one another, you and your provider can come to a consensus as to whether or not an operation is worth the risk. Below, we take a closer look at some of the factors that go into determining if a spinal procedure is worth it given the potential risks.

Weighing Your Spine Surgery Options

All surgeries carry some amount of risk, but for some individuals, it’s clear that an operation is in their best interest. If conservative care has failed, the operation being considered has a high success rate and the individual is young and healthy, all signs point to surgery being worth the risk. With that in mind, here are some of the factors that you and your surgeon will review when determining your risk profile and whether or not surgery is a worthwhile pursuit:

  • Type of Procedure – If your operation can be performed on a minimally invasive basis, you can minimize some risks associated with an operation, including risks like excessive bleeding, tissue trauma and nerve damage. Not all spine surgeries can be performed using minimally invasive techniques.
  • Overall Health – Your doctor will also look at your overall health profile when determining your risk of surgical complications. While age can provide some general insights into your health, some 70 year olds are significantly healthier than people in their fifties, so your doctor will look at your health and any additional comorbidities when assessing your risk profile.
  • Can Conservative Care Provide Relief? – Most surgeons will avoid an operation if at all possible, simply because the risks of surgical correction are more severe than the risks of failed physical therapy or other conservative techniques. If symptoms can be reduced or your condition can be fully treated with conservative techniques, you may be taking on extra risk by considering surgery, and many surgeons will advise against the procedure until they see how your body responds to non-operative treatments.
  • Outlook If Surgery Is Not Pursued – You’ll also have a conversation with your spine specialist about what your outlook will look like if you opt not to pursue surgery. If a spinal injection and healthier lifestyle choices can help to alleviate some discomfort and improve your quality of life, that route may be preferred if surgery carries a higher level of risk. You can’t move forward with a decision about surgery until you consider what life would look like if you didn’t pursue an operation.
  • Your Weight – This could fall under the overall health category, but we thought it deserved its own section. If you are overweight or obese, there are more risks associated with your operation and recovery. Your doctor will talk about the benefits of weight management as you work to overcome your spinal issue, regardless of whether or not you move forward with an operation.
  • Expected Outcome – Finally, your doctor will talk with you about what life will look like assuming everything goes to plan and the surgery is successful. If the surgery can provide you with immense or total pain relief, it may be more worthwhile than if the surgeon believes an operation may produce some moderate pain relief. You don’t want to go through all the trouble of an operation and recovery only to experience mild pain relief, so talk to your surgeon about what your life would look like if everything goes as it should during the operation.

If you weigh all these factors, we’re confident that you will make a smart decision about whether or not to pursue spine surgery. And if you want to talk to a spine surgeon who can help you understand your risk profile and provide you with a high level of care no matter which treatment route you pursue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today at (651) 430-3800.

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