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If you’ve suddenly found yourself brought to a halt by a back issue that requires surgical intervention, you probably have a million questions. What are the most important things you should know when preparing for spine surgery?

Read on to learn what to ask (and what to look for in) your NJ spine surgeon. Some questions can seem a little aggressive, but remember, you have a right to take charge of your health. Being well informed prior to surgery lets you recover and get back to your active lifestyle more quickly.


When it comes to receiving good-quality care and finding the best possible spine surgeon in NJ, experience plays a major role. Here are some good questions to ask to help you determine just what kind of experience your surgeon and team bring to the table.

  • How long has the surgeon been performing the particular surgery you need? How many of these procedures or surgeries has the surgeon done?
  • Is performing spine surgery the surgeon’s primary area of expertise?
  • What rate of complications has the surgeon encountered in surgery patients? Is there any particular surgery that has been more problematic than others?

Surgical Approach

Not all spine surgeons in NJ perform the same surgeries and procedures. Some may opt for more invasive methods that often require very lengthy recovery times. This is why it’s important to know what type of surgical approach your spine surgeon takes for your particular issue or injury and why it’s the preferred technique. Add the questions outlined below to your list to ensure you’re fully aware of how your surgeon will proceed with your particular case.

  • Does the surgeon opt for minimally invasive spinal procedures and surgeries whenever possible? If not, what is the reason?
  • How often does the surgeon opt for one surgical technique over another?
  • Ask for a full step-by-step explanation of what the surgeon will do, from start to finish. It may make you feel a little squeamish, but in the case of medical procedures especially, knowledge is power.
  • If the surgeon is more inclined to perform an invasive over a minimally invasive surgery, would that surgeon be willing to refer you to someone else in the practice who takes a less invasive approach?

Post-Op Recovery

Although the surgery itself may seem like the biggest hurdle you’ll face, recovery can take time. To plan with work, child care or other commitments, it’s helpful to know how much time you need to take off and whether you need to bring in help for household tasks. Ask these questions so you’re fully prepared for a successful recovery.

  • Is the surgery done on an outpatient basis, or will there be a hospital stay?
  • What sort of restrictions will be in place post-op? For instance, will you be limited to lifting no more than five pounds of weight or limited in the amount of driving you should do?
  • Will the surgeon prescribe pain medications that may impair your ability to drive?
  • When does the surgeon recommend you start physical therapy if needed, at what frequency and for what duration?
  • Are there any special dietary or other considerations you need to take into account?
  • What sort of follow-up is involved? Does the surgery require multiple procedures to achieve maximum results?

Surgery Costs and Insurance

The medical aspect of your surgery is obviously the most important, but the financial impact it may have is also a major consideration. Asking your NJ spine surgeon ahead of time what costs to expect gives you the information you need to make wise fiscal decisions. While you can’t put a price on good back health, it’s important that your health plan picks up a good portion of the bill. Depending on your insurance plan and your surgeon’s relationship with your carrier, you could be facing some hefty out-of-pocket expenses. Be sure to ask your surgeon or the staff the following:

  • Does the practice accept your insurance? Obviously, this is the most important financial consideration. Without insurance covering most, if not all, of the surgery, you will be looking at a rather large bill.
  • What kind of out-of-pocket expenses can you expect to pay?
  • Does the practice call ahead for a pre-authorization? Once that’s done, does the office provide you with an itemized estimate?
  • Is the practice going to be billing through a third party, such as a hospital, or does it handle its own billing and perform the surgeries in its own facility?
  • Can the office refer you to a physical therapist who takes your plan? Does it have a preferred physical therapist on that list?
  • What other unrelated costs might arise, such as orthopedic devices (braces, supports)?

Hopefully, the above questions have given you a good foundation to build your own list. If you find your NJ spine surgeon seems disinterested in providing you with strong, patient-centered care, consider talking to another Garden State spine surgery specialist. You should always feel fully confident that you’re receiving the best care possible in and out of the operating room.
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