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FAQ: Do Spine Surgeons Always Recommend Surgery?

Authored by Dr. Niteesh Bharara, Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS. August 6, 2020

With 80% of all Americans dealing with back pain sometime in their life, it is not surprising that spinal conditions and spine surgery are widely sought after topics for information and answers. 

When looking through those findings, there are many misconceptions about spine conditions and the need for surgery vs. non-operative measures like regenerative medicine. Dr. Bharara and Dr. Haines discuss the pros and cons of both surgery and regenerative medicine for back pain and spinal conditions.

DO SPINE SURGEONS ALWAYS RECOMMEND SURGERY AS THE FIRST AND ONLY OPTION?

Before the advancements in modern spine treatments, surgery seemed to be the only recommended route. Through research and modern technology, we now know that Regenerative medicine bridges the gap and allows patients the opportunity to explore a broader treatment plan with their physician.

WHAT TYPES OF INJURIES OR AILMENTS ARE MOST COMMONLY SEEN BY A REGENERATIVE MEDICINE SPECIALIST?

A condition that leads as an example for this new treatment approach is degenerative disc disease. When possible, regenerative medicine can be proposed as an alternative to surgery when other conservative treatments have failed. This is only the case when the condition is in the early stages, whereas if there is too much arthritis or instability of the spine — surgery may be recommended. 

“We’re seeing amazing results with these patients that are using regenerative medicine” 
Dr. Haines

WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR REGENERATIVE MEDICINE?

Age or gender doesn’t play a factor in who is a good candidate for regenerative medicine. The first step when treating a patient is to find the pain source and provide an accurate diagnosis. That will then determine whether regenerative medicine is a possible treatment option, or if we need to explore surgical options.

“It’s very important that we find the pain generator”
Dr. Bharara

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS SOMEONE MAY NEED SURGERY?

We might recommend surgery right away if there are signs of instability and nerve damage to the patient’s spine. These two complex factors do not generally respond well to conservative treatment, or regenerative medicine, so in the best interest of the patient we usually suggest surgery.


The good news is that with all of the advancements in spinal care, your treatment can be customized to what is best for you and your preferences. At Virginia Spine Institute, we will walk you through all of your treatment options, and take the time to make sure you have all the information available to make your decision.

 

Dr. Haines (Spine Surgeon) and Dr. Bharara (Director of Regenerative Medicine) discuss regenerative medicine and spine surgery as treatment options for spinal conditions.

About The Authors

Dr. Niteesh Bharara

Dr. Colin Haines, MD, FACS

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