Sanjoy Sundaresan on Cervical Spinal Stenosis

This condition involves narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck. This can occur due to bulging disks and/ or bone spurs.  It can cause compression of the nerves or the spinal cord.  Symptoms include neck pain, arm pain, hand numbness and gait imbalance.  The treatment depends on the exact amount of narrowing seen on the MRI scan of the cervical spine. So consider getting a second opinion before submitting to any type of surgery!

Who Benefits from Lower Back Surgery

Low back pain has many causes but the overwhelming majority of patients with lower back pain do  NOT benefit from, nor need lower back surgery.  If most of you pain is right in your back (as opposed to your legs), you will not benefit from back surgery.  If you do undertake back surgery for primarily low back pain, be aware that your surgery has a high failure rate (exceptions exist, of course).  On the other hand, if you are have low back surgery for primarily leg pain, you have a much better likelihood of success (with the correct MRI findings). So before, considering lower back surgery, consider a second opinion!

When to Consider Lower Back Surgery

Lower back surgery works best if your pain is in your legs.  That’s because nerves in your spine that go to your legs may be compressed by a bulging disk or bone spurs.  Lower back surgery does not work very well in patients who have primarily lower back pain with little or no leg pain.   There are exceptions, of course, but get a second opinion before submitting to lower back surgery for primarily back pain with little or no leg pain.

People still get surgeries that were proven useless.

dispatchBefore a drug can be marketed, it has to go through rigorous testing to show it is safe and effective. Surgery, though, is different. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate surgical procedures. So what happens when an operation is subjected to and fails the ultimate test — a clinical trial in which patients are randomly assigned to have it or not? Read the full story here >

Dr. Sanjoy Sundaresan: When to Consider Neck Surgery

Ironically, neck surgery (either from the front or the back) works best if the pain is mostly in your arm.  This is because the nerves that serve your arm originate in your neck.  If the pain is mostly in your neck (axial neck pain), think twice about neck surgery to treat this type of pain.  Get a second opinion!  Axial neck pain usually does not respond well to spinal surgery.  There are exceptions, of course.  But the takeaway message is if your arm is not where the bulk of the pain is, think twice about having neck surgery.