When to Seek Medical Care
Avoiding unnecessary spinal surgery is the intent of this site and eBook, but unfortunately not all spine surgery is avoidable, and not every reader will avoid surgery. Some disc injuries require surgery or at least a consultation with a spine surgeon. Before reading this eBook you are urged to carefully review this page to determine if you need a surgical consultation. There are varying degrees of urgency in seeking a surgical consultation. On one end of the spectrum is a medical emergency which requires immediate surgical intervention to avoid or minimize a permanent impairment. On the other end of the continuum is the elective surgical consultation. An elective surgical consultation occurs when a patient elects to be seen for a surgical consultation due to a chronic progressive condition that, while not emergent, constitutes a sustained and unresolved spinal condition which may be addressed with surgery.
Certain spinal symptoms require an immediate surgical consultation: Loss of bowel or bladder control, urinary retention, neurological sexual dysfunction, muscle weakness or flaccidity, neurological deficit, numbness of the genitalia, or numbness in the distribution of a saddle.
Less urgent symptoms that may need a surgical consultation include severe and disabling back pain or shooting pain into the legs that is refractory (does not respond) to other treatments and lasts more than four to eight weeks.