Ask the Expert: Dr. Anthony Virella, So you’ve been told you need spine surgery? Now what?
Low back pain and neck pain are prevalent in the general community. In fact, so many people experience these conditions that it accounts for 35-40% of all visits to the primary care physician. Often times, this will generate a referral to a spine surgeon. A spine surgeon will either be a neurological surgeon or an orthopedic surgeon, both being duly qualified to treat the condition. Visiting the spine surgeon can be a scary experience for many as the thought of spine “surgery” terrifies many people. Some will forego or postpone the visit, thinking that it will
automatically mean an “operation”. Actually, the truth is that I operate on only about 10% of the patients I see in the office. I frequently treat the conditions I encounter with physical therapy, pain management techniques and other various non-surgical therapies.
If I can help someone be pain free without surgery, I feel I have succeeded in treating the patient. After all the conservative modalities have been exhausted, then and only then will I offer an operation to the patient. Whenever possible, this operation will involve minimally invasive techniques which have been shown in the literature to reduce hospitalization stays, cost less, and minimize the use of pain medications. Many of the patients have the procedures done
as an outpatient and can get back to work the next day with a tiny incision that is barely detectable! I am able to offer cutting edge minimally invasive approaches and look forward to helping you finally get rid of your neck and low back pain.
Dr. Anthony Virella, MD, FACS