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Spinal FAQs

Spinal FAQs

We have compiled the most common spine-related questions and answers:

What is a Spine Surgeon?

A spine surgeon is a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of spine problems.  Neurosurgery spine training is included as part of a 7 year brain, spine and peripheral nerve surgery residency training program.  Sometimes, neurosurgeons receive extra spine training after their residency during a 1 or 2 year Spine Fellowship. Orthopedic spine surgeons receive their specialized spine training during a 1 or 2 year fellowship following their 5 year orthopedic residency training program.  Only after a spine surgeon has completed training can they perform spine surgeries.

Spinal surgery is very delicate requiring meticulous technique and years of intense training, practice and study.  Because spine surgery can give patients great relief and cause harm if complications occur, the best spine surgeons are highly sought after by patients and spine surgery programs.

When is it time to see a Spine Surgeon?

If you are experiencing neck, back, arm or leg pain, numbness, tingling or weakness, we recommend that you see a spine surgeon.  It is best if you get a referral to the spine surgeon from your primary care provider, but it is not required. Remember - spinal surgery is never the first option.  Spine surgery will be recommended by your surgeon only if physical therapy, medications or injections are ineffective.

Will I need physical therapy after my spine surgery?

Physical therapy is recommended to begin about 8-12 weeks after surgery.  During the initial postoperative period, you will not be in a formal physical therapy program, but rather encouraged to walk frequently and attend events that will get you out of the house as much as possible.  For 12 weeks, you will be able to do the BLT’s (Bending, Lifting, Twisting) required for self-care only, no chores or lifting more than 5-10 pounds. After 8-12 weeks, you will be considered for physical therapy to help you regain motion, flexibility and strength.  

Since all patients do not require physical therapy after spinal surgery, your rehabilitation program will be uniquely tailored to your needs and situation. 

I want to arrange an appointment with Dr. Siegal.  What do I need to bring with me?

To make sure we can give you comprehensive and meaningful feedback, please bring the following to your appointment (if available):

-       Insurance information

-       Identification card such as a driver’s license

-       Pertinent medical records, prior spine surgery operative reports, radiology reports and testing results (EMG’s, DEXA scans, etc.)

- Hard copies of your recent and previous radiology studies on CD - MRI, Xray, CT, bone scan, DEXA scan, etc.

-       A complete list of all your current medications including supplements and over the counter drugs like aspirin

-       Completed Key Clinics New Patient forms

My injury is work-related. What does this mean?

Spinal injuries are very common in the workplace.  At Key Clinics, we have experience helping patients who are injured on the job. We will do our best to provide you with the world class service and care required to get you back on your feet and to work as soon as possible.  We will help you get the appropriate care you need through the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation.

What if you don’t take my insurance plan?

Our priority is to help you overcome your spine pain and discomfort.  If we do not participate in your insurance plan, we can help you explore other options.  For example, you may have out-of-network benefits available. Whatever the situation, we will do our best to help you find the most cost-effective solution that allows you to benefit from our special care and service.

What is Minimally Invasive/Disruptive Spine Surgery?

Minimally Invasive/Disruptive Spine Surgery describes surgical interventions that “get the job done” well with the smallest incision and least invasive procedure available.  By using the shortest incision possible and disturbing the least amount of tissue, patients benefit from a quicker recovery, smaller scar and less overall pain.