Deciding whether to undergo spine surgery can be an overwhelming feeling.  There are certainly many questions to consider prior to moving forward with spine surgery.   First and foremost, is surgery necessary or are there other less invasive options?  If surgery is indicated, what is the expected outcome and how long is the recovery process?  Ultimately, is spine surgery going to lead to a reduction in pain/disability and an improvement in quality of life?

When is it time to consider spine surgery?

Spine surgery can result in a significant improvement in quality of life; but in most cases, it should only be considered after undergoing a comprehensive course of nonsurgical treatments.  Many patients with spine-related problems can be successfully treated with a nonsurgical treatment regimen.  These include, but are not limited to, physical therapy, home exercise programs, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, and possibly spinal injections.  If symptoms persist or signs of nerve damage exist such as arm or leg weakness, further workup with imaging studies such as MRI, CT, and/or x-rays would be appropriate.  For patients with signs of nerve damage or persistent symptoms despite a comprehensive course of nonsurgical treatments and findings on imaging studies that correlate with their symptoms, surgery can be a good option.

What can be expected during a spine surgeon clinic visit?

During an initial clinic evaluation, the neurosurgeon would listen to your history and understand your main issues and concerns.  A physical exam would be performed to assess for any signs of nerve damage.  The neurosurgeon would review your imaging studies with you and discuss and explain any abnormal findings that were present.  In some instances, it may be necessary to obtain more imaging studies to better assess your condition.  

If there are findings on the imaging studies that correlate with your symptoms, a treatment strategy would be discussed.  For most cases, if nonsurgical treatments have not yet been attempted, these will be suggested at this point.  In patient’s with signs of nerve damage or persistent symptoms after an appropriate course of nonsurgical treatments, a discussion of surgical options would likely occur.  The neurosurgeon would discuss the details of the suggested procedure, all benefits and risks of surgery, as well as the expected outcomes and recovery process following surgery.  The decision to move forward with surgery is always made after an open conversation between patient and neurosurgeon where all questions and concerns can be addressed.

What type of spine patients are treated at The Howell Clinic?

At The Howell Allen Clinic, we specialize in treatment of the entire spectrum of spinal problems, ranging from arm/leg pain from a single nerve being compressed to scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine) and spinal tumors.  We treat patients with spinal stenosis, disc herniations, degenerative spine issues, spinal instability, spinal injuries, spinal deformities, spinal tumors, and many other spinal issues or pathologies.  The Howell Allen Clinic has the ability to treat every spine issue with expert surgeons using all the latest technological advancements