Back Pain FAQs
What Type of Back Pain Doctor Should I Start With?
What is the Difference Between Back Pain Specialists?
Do All Doctors Agree on How to Treat Spine Problems?
Part of surgeon training is experience driven. Each surgeon has their own unique experiences, so you may get entirely different answers from each evaluation.
Are You Offended if I Get a Second Opinion?
Sometimes doctors believe "it's my way or the highway."
What is Most Important During Evaluation?
Rapport and bedside manor is key to the doctor/patient chemistry, leading to better outcomes.
Do You Recommend Second Opinions?
Yes, you'll probably need a third and fourth depending on the severity of your case.
Most Doctors are BUSY! Will You Spend Quality Time with Me?
I never sacrifice quality time with patients to keep the schedule running tight. I have all the time in the world for my patients.
I've Had Failed Back Surgery are Drugs the Only Solution?
Pain medications are temporary band-aids, not a solution. If a surgeon can rebuild the original curve of the spine, most patients reduce or eliminate pain meds altogether.
Can I Get Back to Work and OFF Pain Medication?
Yes, and yes. It's not worth going through surgery if you can't get your life back, active and drug-free.
Doctors Say I'm Crazy, The Pain is My Fault and Just Want Drugs!
If the doctor can't figure out what's wrong, some will say it's your fault and blame you. This is devastating to a patient who pinned their hopes on surgical relief, have it fail, then have to take the blame.
Do You Have a Pain Specialist in Your Office?
No, there is no need. I rarely send a patient to pain management after back surgery. Rather I work with your pain management doctor to help reduce/eliminate narcotics after years of usage.
Do You Ever Need to Send a Patient to Pain Management?
Very rarely. I do work with pain doctors to wean patients off years of narcotics. My goal is to poach patients FROM pain management and instead fix the source of back pain.
Do Pain Doctors Stay Busy From Referrals from Failed Back Surgery?
A patient healed is a customer lost for pain doctors. Unfortunately that is just the way the system is.
I've Been Told My Back Pain Is Hopeless!
After 30 years I believe hopelessness is an opinion. One surgeon will say everything looks fine, another will say it's too difficult nobody can fix you. You, the patient, is left hopeless. I believe there is an answer, and there is hope to find it.
What if Back Doctors Say My Case is Hopeless?
After multiple failed back surgeries, many spine surgeons do not want to take on the risk of another failure. Either they will be sent to pain management as a legal drug addict the rest of their lives, or they can continue to search for a solution.
How Much Relief Can I Expect from Back Surgery?
Many doctors only take easy cases so there's a better chance at relief. I specialize in the toughest cases of failed back surgery syndrome. My goal for all patients is to be active and drug-free.
How is Back Surgery Defined as "Successful?"
If the patient has a noticeable reduction of back pain, increased flexibility, or the ability to reduce/eliminate narcotics.
How Many Steps Involved To Complete Recovery after Back Surgery?
The key is to not rush to get through the steps, but to slowly assess each step methodically. The journey is most important to find the destination.
If I Have Back Surgery, How ACTIVE Can I Be Afterwards?
The more you use your back, the better the disc cages will restore functionality of the spine...curved and flexible. Being active is necessary for healing.
Will I Be Limited After Back Surgery?
You have to be active, walk a couple miles. You should be limber, not stiff. Stretch and touch your ankles. Jump up and down after 6 weeks, you won't mess your back up by being active.
If I Have Back Surgery, Will I Be Stiff Afterwards?
Many report having increased flexibility than before they had back surgery.
Do You Recommend Back Surgery on Most Patients You See?
Other specialists will contribute to your decision of whether back surgery is right for you. About 1 out of 3 patients I see end up going forward with surgery.
I've Been Through a Lot of Pain & Failed Back Surgery, Why are YOU any Different?
Most back doctors do not want the risk of failed back surgeries, so they say "there's nothing more I can do for you." My practice has focused solely on the difficult cases, with methods that are now industry standard worldwide.
I Don't Want to Be Disappointed Again. I Trusted Other Surgeons Now I'm Worse!
I won't make a recommendation for surgery unless I believe it will be beneficial. I will comb every aspect of your life to find out where the problem is, surgical or not. I've learned what I can fix, and what I cannot fix.
Why Should I Trust Another Surgeon, Don't You Get Paid No Matter What?!
Unfortunately there is no merit-based pay based on outcomes. My word of mouth referrals and thousands of patient testimonials is what drives the trust of new patients.
Back Pain Cures, Fads, and Gimmicks
There's always hucksters peddling the latest and greatest, but with unproven outcomes. If it doesn't help rebuild the natural curve and spacing of the spine, it's most like a fad treatment.
Does Laser Spine Surgery Work?
It sounds attractive, easy, and less invasive than surgery. Can a laser burn off a disc without side effects? How long does it last?
What About Minimally Invasive Back Surgery?
As long as it can provide the same surgical results as fully open, there are several advantages to minimally invasive back surgery.
How Do Spinal Disc Cages Work?
Carbon-fiber cages replace your damaged disc and act as a spacer and shock absorber. But are they effective?
Who Developed Disc Cage Replacement?
Most back pain is from disc issues, yet there was no hardware to imitate what creation gave us. Finally in the 1990s surgeons developed the Carbon Fiber Disc Cage, now the industry standard.
How Successful Are Your Current Surgical Methods?
Back surgery tools & techniques have evolved greatly since the 1990s. Yet the nuances of HOW hardware is used becomes a craft of trial and error.
Is Spine Hardware Permanent?
Hardware acts as a permanent cast, keeping the spine aligned and vertebrae spaced.
How Many Back Surgeries are Too Many, To Where You Can't Help?
I used to think after one or two, it's hopeless. Now I don't set a max quantity of procedures, but rather what issue is being missed? If you've had ten surgeries and we fix the problem, that's all that matters.
Why Do So Many Patients Come to You From Out of State?
When a patient has been suffering with back pain for years and I heal them, everyone around them notices and asks how did THAT happen?! Word of mouth spreads to family and friends out of state, and decide its worth traveling to get the same results.
If My Insurance Declines Procedures, Can You Intervene?
Yes, more of my time is spent talking to insurance adjusters and regulators. Patients do not fit into a cookie cutter algorithm, so I negotiate on behalf of my patients to get them the procedures they need.
Just How Much Do You Believe In Your Methods?
I trust in these methods rebuilding the natural physics of the spine insomuch that I have performed these surgeries on friends, family, and loved ones with excellent outcomes.
Can You Figure Out What Is Wrong with Most Back Pain Problems?
Yes, the Upright weight-bearing MRI can reveal pressure points and spine movement, detailing abnormalities that traditional recumbent MRIs miss when a patient is lying down.
Have Your Surgical Techniques Changed Over the Years?
Over the years I have traveled worldwide to operate, lecture, and teach. Skilled surgeons all over the world see the same problems but each has their own technique. What I saw as the best outcomes I took home with me and incorporated that into my methods.
Do You Ever Fail to Get the Results You Want?
Each patient's case is unique, sometimes anomalies can arise.
Are You Crazy for Taking Difficult Cases?
Everyone deserves hope. Fixing one patient restores the lives of everyone they're connected to.
After Back Surgery Do I Exercise or Let it Heal?
A patient sitting in a recliner "waiting to heal" will not do as well as another patient being active and exercising. Exercise is part of the healing process.
What Is Your Recovery Exercises After Back Surgery?
1. Walk two miles a day at six weeks after surgery
Are There Any Exceptions to Your Back Surgery Recovery Program?
Rarely. If you have a bad knee and can't walk two miles, we'll come up with a substitution. The point is to be active, bend, and use your back they way you want.
Do All Doctors Get the Same Results from Different Surgical Techniques?
HOW a surgeon performs a surgery is more important than WHAT a surgeon is doing.
How Can You Figure Out What's Wrong When Others Could Not?
First, I use the superior accuracy of the Upright MRI. Secondly I comb all aspects of your life, not just your spine.
How Can One Back Surgeon Get Better Results Than Another?
Most surgeons perform one method several times, then stop if the results aren't working. I am methodical with my diagnosis on multiple levels. My passion is for the difficult patients that have been abandoned.
Are You On-Time for Your Appointments?
Mostly, but not at the expense of curtailing time with my patients who need extra help.
How Long Have You Been Doing Failed Back Surgery Work?
I've been pioneering new back surgery tools, techniques, diagnostics and hardware since 1991.
Do Previous Doctors Get Upset When You Turn a Patients Life Around?
Occasionally some doctors compete too much instead of cooperate.