Common Misconceptions From Patients

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care.

Spine Review featured five surgeons discussing the most common misconceptions patients have when coming into their office, including Dr. Steven Lee of Golden State Ortho.

Dr. Lee’s response to patient misconceptions for spine treatment:

Dubious information from the internet and direct-to-patient advertising are the two main sources of misconceptions in my practice of spine surgery.

My response to patients is to take the time to carefully state their diagnosis or diagnoses and write it down. Then at least I know they are researching the right diagnosis. I also try to explain that many different types of treatments are performed in spine surgery, such that procedure “A” done for someone who seems to have the same problem as you may not be the best option. In the same way, just because they know someone who may not have had the best result with procedure “A” doesn’t mean they will experience the same. If someone would benefit from surgery, I tailor their treatment plan with regard to their specific diagnosis, expectations and various surgical techniques.

For patients undergoing various spine procedures, current techniques have improved results and recovery times. Many people are surprised that they can return to activities and/or work much sooner than expected.

Finally, as much as I would like to be able to completely “cure” someone of their pain or problem, not every patient has a straightforward treatment solution. Surgery is not appropriate for every patient. When there is not a “quick fix or procedure/surgery” to help them, I utilize a lot of counseling time to encourage lifestyle changes, promote healthier habits and maximize non-surgical treatments to better manage their symptoms and improve their daily functional abilities.

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