I have the privilege to see, evaluate, and treat patients from all walks of life. Despite the difference in sex, age, and every category imaginable, they all present with similar questions and concerns. Why do I hurt? What is the cause of the pain? How can I alleviate it? How can I prevent it?
I try to spend as much time with my patients to answer these questions. The reasons for the pain can be related to a multitude of sources. The treatments can vary just as much and we make every effort to customize our treatment plan to the individual patient.
Some answers remain universal, however. Those answers relate to steps patients can take on their own to either prevent neck and back pain or help improve their symptoms.
Having surgery is a major step for any patient. Even with the shortest and simplest of surgeries, patients should follow instructions as discussed with their surgeon. This is a time to focus on healing and completing the plan set out with your care provider.
Every patient receives a packet with information about their planned surgery. I highly encourage you to look through the packet as it may answer many questions or raise others. Here is a list of DOs and DON’Ts to consider as you go through your recovery process.
As surgeons we are always looking for ways to improve the care we provide. An often overlooked yet equally important factor are the steps taken prior to even setting foot in the operative suite. Pre-operative planning is a factor that was stressed heavily during residency and fellowship, but as technological improvements are made in the implants and instruments, seldom has anyone sought to improve the way in which pre-op planning is performed. As trends have shown, patients today want individualized care, customized implants, and concierge medicine.
The recent introduction of 3-D-printed and patient-matched pedicle screw guides has modernized spine surgery planning and procedures. The process for this patient-matched approach provides for an efficient and effective technique that reduces radiation exposure and can save hospitals and health systems on expenditures for capital purchases, such as navigation systems or CT-scanning technology. In addition, surgeons are less reliant today on free-hand techniques than they once were.
Often patients ask me whether physical therapy is necessary before or after surgery. Although some conditions that cause severe debilitating pain may not respond to therapy right away, patients find a degree of relief in most cases. We typically do not exercise enough and when we do, many of us use poor form or do not do the correct exercises.