This health video gives you tips on what questions to ask before surgery to make sure you get the best care.
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Jennifer Mathews: When it comes to back pain everybody has story. Male Speaker: I was picking up a box and something popped, it didn't felt right, I fell to the ground. Female Speaker: We got up to have to leave and I was right on the side walk and I couldn't walk. Male Speaker: It was spasm and I would just literally fall on the floor. Jennifer Mathews: Back surgery is sometimes where that story ends. Female Speaker: I wanted the pain to go away and I was -- it had come to the point where I was willing to try surgery. Male Speaker: I was very against surgery. Male Speaker: I was desperate and I would have done virtually anything that anybody told me if they thought that I was going to be able to relieve the pain. Jennifer Mathews: With 48 joints in the spine relieving back pain isn't always easy to do. Doctors agree on two things, conservative treatment should be tried first and back surgery is rarely necessary, but if you have tried everything and surgery is what's left, here are ten questions you need to ask. First Dr. William Taylor says to ask of the surgeries your doctor performs, how many are spine related. Dr. William Taylor: You want someone who concentrates on the spine not someone who is doing a little of this and little of that. Jennifer Mathews: But University of Vermont surgeon Robert Monsey warns not to dwell on how many surgeries your doctor does. Dr. Robert Monsey: If you have a surgeon who does a 100 of these surgeries, but he doesn't do them well it doesn't help you that he does a 100 or 200 of these surgeries. Jennifer Mathews: He says a more critical question is do they have fellowship training in Spine Surgery that indicates a high level of technical expertise. Next question is there an exact diagnosis, if not surgery is far less likely to work. Next to ask what will happen if I don't have surgery? Dr. Robert Monsey: That changes the way you might look at the procedure and determine whether or not it's worth while going through. Jennifer Mathews: Question five is two-fold. What are the chances that surgery will help me and could I be worse? Dr. Robert Monsey: First they say the chance of getting back to work in relieving your pain enough so that you can work again as only 50% you may say it's not worth of it. Jennifer Mathews: The remaining five questions you need to ask or what's the complications rate? How long will it take to recover? What's the exact operation I will be having? What happens if it doesn't work and finally ask yourself do I trust my doctor? Dr. William Taylor: I think people have a tendency not to trust their instincts too. If you don't like the person or you don't enter into a therapeutic relation with them. Jennifer Mathews: Taylor says your chances for making a good decision are much better if you study the answers to these questions before you make the lead. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.