5 Tips To Prepare For Your Initial Spine Consultation

Authored by: Thao Allen

If you have made your first appointment with a spinal specialist, this is a commendable step! However often times individuals continue to press on living their lives dealing with symptoms resulting from a spine condition. In the face paced world today our natural inclination is to put the needs of our families, our careers and other obligations first. As a result many people compromise with their symptoms for a long time until they hit a breaking point and decide to seek the care of a spine physician.

It can be difficult to come to grips with the fact that you have a spine condition. Symptoms can be more than just pain and may include numbness, tingling and/or weakness in the arms and legs. These symptoms may be provoked by prolonged activity, sitting, standing, and walking. Many patients I speak with talk about the ways they have changed their lives because of their pain or symptoms.

The most common complaint is an inability to exercise causing weight gain. Additionally pain or nerve symptoms also contribute to poor sleep, which then affects your function during the day. Pain also affects your mood, and depression emerges for people in pain. Don’t let your spinal symptoms control these aspects of your life — take matters into your own hands!


1. Timing is Everything!
Don’t wait until the pain overcomes you. Waiting too long for certain symptoms could be detrimental to your overall well being. While you may ignore a numb foot because it doesn’t affect your function, you could be ignoring potential permanent nerve damage. While pain is more debilitating, neurologic symptoms can be more serious.

2. Keep an Open Mind.
Think of the initial consultation as a conversation with your spinal specialist and supportive team of spine experts. Our team is here to understand your history, needs and goals for recover. We will work with you to create a treatment plan you are comfortable with. We always will discuss both operative and non-operative options.

3. Come Prepared with your Questions.
The initial consultation is an opportunity to discuss your concerns and receive answers to your burning questions. One-on-one time with your spine specialists creates a safe environment to clarify any areas where you may need additional information. Because of the detailed information discussed in this appointment, patients often bring a family member or friend with them to assist in noting the information.

4. Bring Recent Imaging. 
If you happen to have a recent (within the last 6 months) MRI or x-rays, be sure to bring them to your initial consultation. We will review them with you during your appointment and use them in conjunction to your physical exam and history to understand the problem(s). *If you don’t have imaging we do have x-ray facilities right here in our office.

5. Build a Relationship with your Spine Specialist.
It is important to establish trust and rapport between provider and patient. We care about your success in the treatments we offer. We are here to listen. We understand your goal of minimizing disruptions in your life while undergoing your treatment plan.

If you have been experiencing symptoms related to a neck or back condition, seek solutions from our spinal specialist at Virginia Spine Institute. Many treatment options exist, many that do not require spine surgery. The appropriate non-operative treatment –from quality manual physical therapy, regenerative medicine, and nerve blocks– could change your life. If surgical intervention is necessary, our surgeons are pioneering the most advanced procedures including robotics, navigation technology, and enhanced tools. These surgeries are performed using a minimally invasive approach with smaller incisions, faster recovery time, shorter hospital stay and improved outcomes.

I hope you find these tips helpful in making the most of your first appointment. Signing off from your “Spiney” Physician Assistant Thao Allen!

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