Three Tips for Selecting an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon to Treat Back Pain
Chronic back or neck pain can be debilitating and it can have a lasting, negative effect on your quality of life. If you’ve suffered in silence for too long and exhausted your treatment options in the process, you may be desperate to find a life-changing way to treat back pain. And that way just might be surgery.
If you’ve decided that surgery is the best way to treat your back pain, the next step is to figure out what kind of surgeon should perform your operation. In general, two kinds of surgeons are qualified to perform back surgery, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons. Both types of surgeons are qualified to perform spine surgeries, but neurosurgeons are typically better suited for operations involving tumors while an orthopedic surgeon is often called upon to surgically address deformities.
Keep in mind that there are exceptions to the “rule” just mentioned. Some orthopedic spine surgeons have vast experience with tumors and some neurosurgeons have the skills required to surgically correct deformities. It all comes down to a doctor’s education, training and hands-on experience.
Choosing an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
Once you’ve decided that you need an orthopedic spine surgeon, your focus needs to be on choosing the one who’s best for you. Selecting the right orthopedic surgeon is critical for you to have the best chance at relieving your pain and minimizing possible complications.
Here are some tips that can help you choose the right orthopedic spine surgeon:
Interview Prospective Surgeons
While many doctors have accumulated plenty of online reviews, relying on them exclusively when you’re picking an orthopedic surgeon is not a good idea. Online reviews may discuss factors like wait time, but they rarely mention one factor that’s very important – outcomes.
When you’re in the process of choosing an orthopedic surgeon, make it a point to interview the doctor you’re considering. Ask the surgeon pointed questions like the following to get a feel for their skills and experience:
- How many times have you performed the kind of surgery I need and what have your outcomes been?
- Did you go through a fellowship in spine surgery?
- Will you provide me with a list of your patients who you’ve performed this type of surgery on so I can talk to them about their experiences? (The surgeon would have to have a signed consent form from any of his or her patients willing to talk to you, according to HIPAA guidelines.)
Verify Your Surgeon’s Credentials
At a minimum, your orthopedic surgeon should be board certified or board eligible in their specialty. Your surgeon should also be a member of a respected spine association like the North American Spine Society or the American Board of Spine Surgeons.
Consider How Much of a Surgeon’s Practice Is Devoted to Spine Surgery
The North American Spine Society mandates that at least 50 percent of a given surgeon’s practice be dedicated to spine treatments in order for the doctor to join the organization. Surgeons who focus on spine surgery will typically be more familiar with the latest surgical techniques compared to surgeons who perform spine surgery less frequently.
Schedule a Consultation with Branko PRPA M.D. Spine Surgery
Fellowship-trained, board certified and a member of the North American Spine Society and other revered organizations, Dr. Branko Prpa has performed more than 5,000 surgeries. We invite you to learn about this sought-after orthopedic surgeon now. Once you’re familiar with Dr. Prpa’s credentials and principles, you’ll know who you’ll want to perform your surgery. Schedule a consultation if you live in the greater Milwaukee, WI area and want to treat your back pain.