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When To Get a Second Opinion on Your Back Pain

Patient getting a second opinion from a doctor

Chronic pain, especially in the back or neck, can affect our outlook on life. We become depressed and agitated since we can no longer do the things we most enjoy.

Considering these issues, we want relief. The best treatment, whether it’s surgery or injections, must be the right treatment for your needs.

Inadequate treatment feeds the cycle of chronic pain. Unfortunately, many patients soon believe nothing will work. They may even give up on feeling better.

Chances are, a second opinion was not a consideration for them. But it should be.

Here are a few reasons why a second opinion is worth both time and money.

When Surgery Is Necessary

Many health experts agree that when a serious injury requiring surgery is necessary, a second opinion is vital.

Surgery is not to be taken lightly. Some procedures can affect your lifelong ability to progress successfully.

Physicians are routinely asked to provide a second opinion for this reason. Every doctor has various levels of experience and training.

When the prognosis is complicated, physicians often confer with other specialists.

By having more than one expert opinion, all the options for a successful recovery are considered.

When You Are Not Comfortable with the First Opinion

Typically, a doctor who is treating back and neck pain will try the most conservative treatments first. Later, they may suggest surgery or other invasive treatments.

You may not be getting relief. Or you may feel that a doctor is not in tune with your condition. A second opinion can get you on the right road.

Think of it as a set of fresh eyes and ears. Doctors often send patients for a second opinion to ensure a proper diagnosis. This helps them rule out other possible causes of pain and recommend the best treatment.

Treatments or Surgery Did Not Work

You are having treatments or surgery and see no improvement. Or worse, your symptoms are increasing. This is an excellent time to talk to someone else.

If extra surgeries are recommended, you should ask questions. Chances are, you know more about your condition than when you first went to your doctor. You are more aware of what questions to ask.

You can have a very detailed discussion, and weigh the pros and cons of what to do next. Then, discuss with an experienced professional.

Nothing More Can Be Done

A physician has informed you there is nothing more they can do. But you are still having pain and symptoms.

In self-reports from patients, there are some treatments that have little or no effect on their pain. Continuing costly treatments that don’t work is frustrating.

A second opinion can get you and the physician focusing on what’s not working and why. Then you can find options with better results.

You Have Other Health Problems

For many people, there are other health issues in addition to back and neck pain. For older patients, the natural degeneration of bone and tissue may be contributing to the problem.

Diabetics are often at risk of poor bone healing. Also, those with a history of extensive surgeries or injuries have various consequences on their spine health.

In these cases, careful attention to both treatments and outcomes should include all the underlying issues. A physician needs to address the “whole person” rather than just the presenting symptoms.

You Have Concerns about Your Options

Nowadays, there are new, innovative ways to treat the spine. Some are well researched and beneficial. Others are not.

If you’re given options that vary widely in cost and history, a second opinion will educate you on them.

You may decide to stay with your initial choice of providers. However, you’ll be more aware of what’s known to work and what’s risky or controversial.

More often than not, your physician understands you’ll want to know more.

You Are Worried What Your Current Doctor Will Think

One of the most reported reasons patients don’t seek outside advice from another physician is their concern what their doctor will think. You trust your doctor, and you should.

Unfortunately, the inclination to get a second opinion can be clouded by your loyalty. Even if you know it’s the right thing to do, you’re reluctant. Any reputable professional would tell you that is wrong.

Getting a second opinion does not minimize their diagnosis or flag you as a “bad patient”. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Professionals understand that it is part of an educated patient doing the right thing for themselves.

The best patients are those who know their diagnosis and treatment options.

Second Opinion Questions to Ask

Being prepared with questions keeps your conversation with the physician focused on your needs.

When you are ready to get a medical second opinion, here’s just a few questions to help get you started:

  • Is there any chance my problem has a different diagnosis?
  • Are there any additional tests I should have?
  • What’s the treatment you would recommend?
  • What are the side effects of the treatment?
  • What are the goals of the treatment?
  • Are there any other treatments I should consider?
  • What are the likely results if I delay treatment?
  • Is surgery the only way to correct my problem?

When You Are Ready to Talk

We can provide a second opinion for even the most complicated cases. Our long experience in spine health began with a single conversation. It’s our patients and their individual needs that build our expertise every day.

We hope these tips help you consider an opportunity to get the best care possible. When you are ready to talk, we are here. Drop us a line to discuss with our experts and find the right treatment for your needs.

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