Backache

Updated 17 September 2014

Before your back operation

The decision to have back surgery is a big one. Both you and the doctor need to be convinced that there is no other way of solving the problem.

0

The decision to have back surgery is a big one. Both you and the doctor need to be convinced that there is no other way of solving the problem.

In order to arrive at this decision, your doctor will perform a thorough medical evaluation, which will include a study of your medical history, a physical examination and some imaging tests.

These tests may include normal X-rays, myelography, a CT or CAT scan (computerised tomography) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. The MRI scan gives the most detailed image of the soft tissue, followed by the CAT scan. The MRI scan can give up to 100 times more accurate information on a patient's condition than normal X-rays, but sometimes a normal X-ray can tell a doctor all he/she needs to know.

For your own peace of mind, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion. If two spine specialists agree that surgery is the only option, you can be more confident that you are doing the right thing.

While back surgery can help relieve the pressure on spinal nerves, many people have overoptimistic expectations concerning the results of back operations. It is probable that you might continue to have pain for quite a while. Full recovery is also not quick – it could take weeks or months. Most people undergo intensive physiotherapy after a back operation.

There is a lot you can do to improve your back health after surgery. These include improving your posture, strengthening your muscles by means of regular exercise, stretching and controlling your weight.

Reviewed by Dr Pradeep Makan, orthopaedic surgeon, Melomed Gatesville and Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town and part-time lecturer in the department of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Cape Town, 2010.

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Ask the Expert

Backache expert

Susan qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1990, and completed her master’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2013 at the University of Pretoria. She has a special interest in human biomechanics, as well as the interaction between domestic and work-related ergonomics. Read more here.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules