When and Why Patients Should Seek a Second Opinion for Back Pain

November 13, 2017 | Patient Rights

Spinal surgery is a significant procedure, so recovery can be an arduous process. As a patient, seeking a second opinion for back pain problems is an important way to ensure peace of mind and ensure you make the right decision for you. Although many patients feel all physicians will come to the same conclusion when it comes to back and neck pain, there are a variety of nonsurgical spine treatments to investigate prior to receiving spinal surgery.

If you have concerns or doubts about a diagnosis as serious as spinal surgery, it is a smart practice to search for an objective second opinion. Here are a few situations when a patient should seek a second treatment opinion, and why:

  1. If a surgeon cannot provide justification for why surgery is the best or only option to treat your back pain. Physicians should offer patients different treatment options, and discuss the benefits and risks of each approach. In a situation where a physician leaves a patient feeling like they have no recourse without explaining why, a consultation with another physician can provide alternatives, or clarify the thinking behind surgery as the primary treatment plan.
  2. When your motivations differ from your physician. If you are dedicated to finding nonsurgical spine treatments and your physician is steadfast in their decision that surgery is the only option, seeking a second opinion for back pain is the best choice for your body. Every physician has different experience and motivations when treating patients, and making an appointment with a second physician might result in a vastly different treatment plan that more closely relates to your goals.
  3. In the event you are uncomfortable with the first physician for any reason, including economic motivations. You are your closest healthcare advocate, and if you are feeling negatively about a physician or their treatment plan, seek an objective second opinion.
  4. Potentially most importantly, if a patient has undergone spinal surgery that did not work and additional surgery is being suggested, it is a best practice to look for a second opinion. As you know, the recovery process is not an easy road. Nonsurgical spine treatments have less potential risk, and may be the best treatment if surgery has not provided relief in the past.

It is the responsibility of a physician to recommend what he or she considers to be the best treatment option for a patient. However, it is your body and your decision if you are comfortable with the suggested treatment. Receiving a second opinion for treatment is a responsible way to take control of your healthcare.

If you are currently searching for a second opinion from a spine specialist in New Jersey, Coastal Spine is a multidisciplinary spine center focused on nonsurgical solutions to back and neck pain. See patient testimonials here.