There are many things you should do to prepare for surgery, such as preparing your body, your loved ones, and your home. In my book, Finding the Source, I share with readers 13 ways to prepare for a surgical procedure.
In this post, I want to focus on the one thing you need to know before deciding to undergo surgery at all. Though part of my job is performing surgeries to correct patients’ injuries, invasive procedures are hardly ever my first recommendation. Unless it’s a severe injury that obviously needs surgery, going under the knife should be your last resort.
Conservative Treatment. Before requesting surgery from your orthopaedic specialist, ask them about their recommendations for conservative treatment. Many painful conditions can be addressed with stretches, strengthening exercises, supplements, and medication. Physical therapy is a great place to start in the search for relief.
Give It Some Time. When I first see a patient, I test their reflexes in an effort to discover the source of their injury or pain. After seeing what I can find, I make an individualized treatment plan that includes both in-office and at-home elements. Then, I give the plan time to work its magic. By approaching the issue slowly and from all sides, you can usually discover more and get better results in the long-term, possibly eliminating the need for surgery altogether.
The Risks of Rushing. I once had a patient, Jake, who came to me seeking relief for persistent pain. He was a fifty-year-old bus driver and had suddenly developed severe pain in his shoulder after turning a corner in the bus.
He went to see an orthopaedist and dealt with workman’s compensation trying to find a solution. Although nothing was torn, the doctor recommended surgery. Over the next year and a half Jake underwent three different surgical procedures, but his pain still persisted. After two years, he was placed on total disability.
A friend recommended he come see me, and when I walked in the room, I could see the pain he was enduring. I performed my usual tests and found he had carpal tunnel syndrome and tenderness and spasticity in his lower back. He’d complained of numbness in his hand and pain in his back to the previous doctor, who refused to treat these concerns.
I was able to improve both his hand numbness and his back pain in my office that day. The point I’m making here is that going straight for surgery is rarely a miracle fix. It’s important to find the source of the pain or injury if you expect to find a long-term solution. Jake’s previous doctor didn’t listen to his complaints or consider how they might all be connected. He only treated one area (and very poorly I might add).
The Right Doctor. I’ve emphasized the importance of finding the source and exploring your conservative care options, but it’s also important that you are working with a doctor that you trust. If you don’t believe that your doctor’s recommendation is the best option for you or if you don’t feel like he or she is listening to you, find another doctor.
Better yet, come see me. I’ll be sure to give you the attention you need to get to the bottom of what’s bothering you.