You’ve been working with your doctor for a while now. You like him and trust him. He’s done everything he could to try to relieve you of your pain and improve your condition without surgery. You’ve tried chiropractic, physical therapy, injections, medication, and more. You’re still hurting. One Saturday, at your appointment, your doctor says something you weren’t ready for. He says he thinks it’s time to consider surgery.
You figured he had a few more tricks up his sleeve before it came to this. He assured you, as any spine specialist should, that he would try all non-surgical treatment methods first. Surely, that couldn’t have been all of them. But it seems it was. Now, as much as you trust your doctor, it is your back he’s talking about. This is a serious thing to consider and he’ll tell you that himself. While spine surgery has improved over the years, there’s still risk involved – and not the “bet $5 on black” kind of risk either.
Your doctor will go over all of the risks with you and then you’ll be left to make your decision. Everything in you is screaming to get a second opinion. “Spinal fusion surgery???” you think. You can’t believe – or at least don’t want to believe – it’s come to this. And maybe you shouldn’t. As much as you trust your doctor, it’s your back and you should be sure. What could it hurt to get another professional’s opinion.
But then you realize the other doctor will ask for copies of test results and your current doctor will have to send them over. “Will he be insulted?” you think – “Do I really need a second opinion?”
How do you know? If you get a second opinion, will you just believe it because it’s the second and must be better than the first? Or just because you want to believe it? And, in that case, will you avoid surgery you truly need? Maybe your doctor’s opinion is enough.
There are some things to look out for that would warn you to get a second opinion. If your doctor has trouble answering any of your questions or doesn’t want to give you the time you deserve to answer those questions, that’s a good reason to get a second opinion. If you feel that your current surgeon doesn’t have your best interests in mind (for example, if it seems he’s more after the money), that’s also a good reason. But, if you and your doctor truly have tried every avenue besides surgery, you get along with him, and you trust him – then, a spinal fusion second opinion may just complicate things and keep you from getting the pain relief you deserve as quickly as possible.
So base your decision mainly on your judgement of your doctor’s character. If you have any doubts, then you should seek a second opinion. Otherwise, it’s time to decide if you want to undergo surgery or not – and only you can decide that.