You may go through much of your life without having problems with your spine. When you do, however, it can affect your whole life. Especially as, with a spine problem, it can affect your ability to walk, sit down or even to sleep with any comfort.
That is why people with spine problems will often eventually go to a spine surgeon for help (see Joshua S. Rovner, MD – Progressive Spine & Orthopaedics). After all, if treatment from a spine surgeon or spine surgery can improve your ability to function in a normal way, this type of doctor should be one of the first people you see.
What exactly does a spine surgeon do? — Before you visit a spine surgeon, you will probably want to know what one does. That way you will know about possible procedures before you even visit one.
A typical spine surgeon is medically trained and experienced to diagnose and then treat all kinds of spinal problems. These can be anything from a spinal disorder due to an illness or an accident to a catastrophic injury causing you problems walking, sitting and lying down.
Spine surgeons treat everything from a simple fracture of the spine to scoliosis, sports injuries, neck injuries like whiplash and even disc problems, infections and tumors.
Some surgeons specialize in one specific type of injury, while others are able to deal with any spinal problem presented to them.
What happens when you first visit a spine surgeon? — Your first visit will usually start with an examination, followed by a consultation where you can explain to the surgeon where your problems are manifesting.
During your consultation, you should also tell the surgeon if you have had any treatment for your problem already, if you take any medications and if you have ever had any spinal surgery before. This will usually give him enough information to make an initial diagnosis.
A reputable surgeon will then usually suggest therapies like pain medication and physical therapy for many months before surgery is even suggested. That way you and the surgeon have ample time to find out if a non-invasive treatment could work as well as an invasive one. If these recommendations do not have a positive effect, it is only then that spine surgery will be considered.
An MRI and a CAT scan — During your initial visit to a surgeon, you may also be asked to have an MRI or a CAT scan so that the surgeon can get enough information about your spinal problems to diagnose them better.
This will usually take place a few days to a few weeks after your initial consultation. You will then usually be asked to return to see the surgeon so the results can be discussed, and treatment can be recommended based on what the scans discovered.
If you are not asked to have an MRI or a CAT scan, and your spinal problems continue to occur, it may be necessary for you to ask the surgeon if this type of test should be the next step.