We frequently see patients after they have undergone significant spinal surgical procedures. Unfortunately, many have seen surgeons who has fallen victim to the adage, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everything as if it were a nail.” While these treatments are undergone with the best intentions and usually start with treating a specific issue in mind, many times the complications from the first surgery lead to many more.
Spinal fusion, shown in this picture to the left, is an orthopedic surgical procedure that fuses two or more vertebrae together. This is done by using hardware in the form of screws and rods, sometimes even spacers between the discs.
Typically, these treatments start innocently enough with a relatively simple procedure to help address back pain or pain shooting down the legs. Often when that fails to fully address the initial issue, surgeons elect to continue trying more and more complicated surgical procedures.
Unfortunately, once hardware has been placed or part of the spine has been removed, the anatomical changes accompanying those procedures can never be fully undone. This means that repeated surgical procedures continue to add up changing your given anatomy drastically.
My Patient’s Story
I spoke to a prospective patient this morning who began a journey into back surgery about 9 years ago. The initial surgery was a “simple” fusion surgery which failed to address the initial injury of back pain, likely a poor reason to perform a fusion surgery in the first place. After failing to address the issue with the first surgery, the initial surgeon proceeded to perform an additional 4 surgeries over the next 5 years despite having no significant success. Eventually, this patient changed surgeons and underwent a significant revision surgery to try to fix some of the mistakes of his first surgeon. Unfortunately, this last surgery caused significant irritation of the lining of his spinal cord and has left him more impaired than when he started for the last 2 years with new weakness and burning, sharp pain radiating down the legs.
Avoid Surgery with the Centeno-Schultz Clinic
Here at the Centeno-Schultz clinic, we pride ourselves on having an extensive toolbox. While we do sometimes refer patients to surgeons for appropriate indications, we are typically able to accomplish our goals with a much more nuanced approach and without changing underlying anatomy which limits the interventions you can have later. One of our goals is to avoid the first surgery to help avoid the complications that can happen down the road. Our “toolbox” is generally much more extensive than our surgeon colleagues and our patients aren’t all “nails” until proven otherwise.