Monday, September 3, 2012

I Have Had Both Neck Surgery And Back Surgery; Do You Need Back Or Neck Surgery?

Since my neck surgery I have run a marathon, and following my back surgeries I have run a half marathon and many 10k races.  I share this with you not so that you take surgery lightly, but to recognize that there are very successful outcomes to back and neck surgery.  

For most injured workers, spine surgery is “elective”, meaning that it is considered as a possible approach to enhance an injured worker’s ability to function and decrease pain. However, just because spine surgery is elective or recommended by a spine surgeon does not mean the workers compensation insurance company will agree to pay for it.  Almost without exception, the work comp insurer will require an independent medical examination.

"Elective" just means that surgery of the spine is rarely an absolute necessity. Like myself, most often surgery is performed to relieve significant pain or reduce symptoms such as radiating pain, numbness or tingling down one’s legs or arms.  Only in rare instances, such as for patients who have a progressive neurological loss of function or sudden onset of bowel or bladder incontinence, is spinal surgery actually necessary on an emergency basis.

Spine surgery can basically accomplish two tasks:

  1. Decompress a nerve root or the spinal cord
  2. Stabilize an unstable or painful segment with cervical, thoracic or lumbar fusion

Some injure workers with back or neck pain wonder by a surgeon doesn’t perform exploratory surgery.  I have never heard of exploratory spine surgery. The cause of a patient’s pain is not readily apparent with opening and exploring the spine. The preoperative evaluation and imaging results are what identify the problem and guide the design of the procedure.

If you have been injured, contact the attorneys of Minnesota Disability and Atkinson Law Office, P.A. For a FREE consultation call 651-333-3636.  Our phones are answered 24 hours a day.