Spinal surgery should never be undertaken lightly and is suitable for only a small number of people with back problems. That small minority is however important. More often or not they are suffering from severe limb pain or disability that has not responded to an array of expensive and time-consuming conservative methods. An MRI may demonstrate significant compression or trapping of nerve roots or the spinal cord. By undergoing one of a group of relatively straight-forward and well-tested surgical procedures there is a high chance they will enjoy marked improvement or complete relief of their symptoms.
The critical thing for anyone referred for a surgical opinion is to be fully informed. There are so many things to consider: what are the indications and how clearly in my case are the indications supported by history, MRI scans and other investigations? Are there really no alternatives that might suit me better? If I do undergo surgery how likely is it to succeed and what can go wrong? How is the surgery performed, how long will I be in hospital and how long will it be before I can return to work?
There is an overwhelming amount of information about back problems out there, some of it excellent, some ill-informed and contradictory. The internet view is no substitute for a comprehensive and relaxed consultation with an experienced surgeon that deals with all the above issues. Time to digest information and the opportunity for further discussion and questions is deemed essential before any decision regarding surgery is made.