At Your Appointment

Spine Surgery Appointment Guide

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Ask the right questions at your next doctor’s appointment. Answer two questions below to personalize your appointment guide.
  • How would you rate your pain? What number would you give it on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst pain ever?
  • How often do you need to use your pain medicine?
  • Besides pain, are there any other problems with weakness, numbness, or tingling? Any bowel or bladder issues?
  • What exercises and daily activities have you been able to do? Do you need assistance?
  • How often are you attending physical therapy sessions? Have you seen progress?
  • How many hours per day are you wearing your back brace?
  • How long have you been having back or neck pain?
  • Do you have other symptoms, such as weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs? Any bowel or bladder issues?
  • How much is your back pain or stiffness limiting your daily activities? Sometimes, frequently, or all the time?
  • How would you rate your quality of life due to your back pain? Good, fair or poor?
  • How well have medicines and physical therapy helped your back pain or stiffness?
  • If you are considered a good candidate, are you ready to consider spine surgery?
  • How well is your medication controlling your symptoms? Do you feel it is effective?
  • What is your main concern about spine surgery?
  • What new symptoms are you experiencing?
  • How do you know if spine surgery will be successful for me?
  • What are my spine surgery options? Am I a candidate for minimally invasive surgery?
  • What are the risks and possible complications of the spine surgery you are recommending? How can I help prevent them?
  • How long will I be in the hospital after spine surgery?
  • How long does full recovery usually take?
  • How should I prepare my house before surgery to make my recovery easier? Where can I find more information or assistance with this?
  • How active can I be until I see you next time? What restrictions do you recommend?
  • How long will I need physical therapy?
  • What exercises should I continue after physical therapy to maintain strength and stability in my back?
  • What symptoms could mean there is problem with my spine? When should I call you?
  • How long should I use my pain medicine? How can I avoid getting addicted to my pain medicine?
  • How can I protect my back and spine after I've recovered from surgery?
  • Would another medication do a better job of controlling my pain and other symptoms?
  • Are my new or different symptoms related to my spine surgery?
  • What type of spine surgery is best for me? Am I a candidate for minimally invasive surgery?
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Nov 5
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/minimally-invasive-spine-surgery/
  2. Spinal Fusion. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion/
  3. Spinal Fusion. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/spinal-fusion/about/pac-20384523