The Truth About Back Surgery
So What Does Help? continued...
If you're interested in going to a pain program, look for one certified by
CARF (the Commission on
Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities). Most programs are covered (at
least in part) by health insurance.
Increasingly, people are turning to pain centers sooner rather than later,
say specialists from Texas Back Institute and Dartmouth's Spine Center. Based
on their experiences with patients all along the spectrum, they've pinpointed
strategies to help keep sufferers with an acute back problem from developing a
Unlike anti-inflammatories, the commonly used Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin, and
other opioids don't help heal your back. And they can be addictive.
if you're emotionally down. Depression makes pain worse.
Tell your health team what you want to be able to do — go to work, drive — so
you can make a plan.
When you're on bed rest, your family can begin to see you as the "sick person,"
which can be hard to reverse. It's also not great for your body (you lose
muscle tone) or mind (you get depressed).
As Catherine Johnson found after going through the Dartmouth Spine Center
program, even excruciating, life-limiting pain can be overcome. You may have to
develop a mantra — "the pain will go away," "moving will make me feel better,
not worse" — and you may have to try a number of approaches before you find the
one that works. Most of all, you have to keep your skepticism meter set on
high, so you won't be derailed by promises that can't be kept — and treatments
that won't help.
Finding Dr. Right
With some doctors eager to do surgery you may not need — and that may well
not help — it's not always easy to find a competent and caring physician who
will do his or her best by you. Some guidelines, starting with two key
Don't trust the Internet.
The doctor ads you see on patient-education sites may have been placed
there by publicity agents for hospitals or spine centers, says Dr. Rosen.
Often, their real agenda is to promote surgery.
Don't be wowed by big names.
Some prominent surgeons have been implicated in questionable consulting
practices. They may be highly skilled, but you want to be sure that whatever
treatment is suggested will be best for you, not for a company that's
researching a product.
Your own family doctor sees back patients before, during, and after
treatment. He or she knows which specialists are doing the best jobs in your
area. Worried your doc will simply refer you to his golfing buddy? Ask for more
than one name, and ask why he likes these physicians best.
Check your state's Website.
Type the name of your state followed by ".gov" and then look for links to
"physician licensing" to confirm that the doctor has a current license.