Spine Surgeon

Choosing where to go for spine surgery can be a complex and anxiety-provoking decision. You have to consider treatment options and find the right spine surgeon while life goes on and your back pain continues. 

To streamline the process of selecting a good spine surgeon, review the checklist and questions below. If you have chronic or acute back pain, never take medical advice from a website and never use your research to substitute for consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.

Spine specialists undergo extensive formal education. You will want to know more about surgical training and specialties before deciding where to have your operation.


Spine Specialist Education and Training

Spine specialists have to complete specialized medical training in how to diagnose and treat spinal disorders. Spine surgeons are typically neurosurgeons or orthopedic surgeons. 

Orthopaedic (or orthopedic) surgeons and doctors specialize in joints, bones, neck, tendons, and muscles. Both specialties perform spinal surgery.

Neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons tend to be equally qualified to perform a range of surgeries. Neurosurgeons focus on the brain and spine, which is why patients often go to them. 

Specialists in both fields go through extensive training, including a residency, after medical school. An orthopedic surgeon completes five years of training in the treatment of various musculoskeletal conditions. Both of these specialties may only be practiced by board-certified surgeons.

You can find the right spine surgeon by asking your primary care physician for a referral. Your doctor may recommend one or more providers. Regardless of that, you might still want to do some research. Read on to learn more about what to look for and why those things are important.

If you need spine surgery, please don’t hesitate to contact our office. We will be happy to review your situation and talk about your options.


12 Things to Consider

Finding the right spine surgeon takes some time and attention. These are things to keep in mind during your search for a surgeon. Keep these tips in mind while reviewing physicians and their practices:


  • Focus on spinal disorders. A good choice of surgeon spends at least 50% of their time on treating disorders like scoliosis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, spine injuries, stenosis, fractured vertebrae, spinal deformities, and tumors on the spine.


  • Board-certified. Look for a surgeon certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery or the American Board of Neurological Surgery. Your surgeon needs to be board eligible at least.  Ideally, you should hold out for someone who belongs to either the North American Spine Society or the American Board of Spine Surgeons. These professional medical associations help spine doctors keep their skills up-to-date.


  • Works at a multidisciplinary spine-care center. This can be a great convenience since treating spine disorders is complex. Recovering from a back operation usually involves therapy and follow-up visits. At a spine-care center, all of the required specialties will be at the same location.


  • Fellowships. Look for someone’s fellowship training, meaning they completed a one-year fellowship in spine surgery. They would have been trained in advanced surgical techniques like spinal reconstruction, microsurgery, and spinal fusion.


  • Training in minimally invasive techniques. Ask if the surgeon is trained in microsurgery or other minimally invasive approaches were applicable. You should also be able to discuss non-surgical options with your physician. Ask about the surgeon’s specialized training.


  • Relevant experience. Be wary of any surgeon on seems defensive when asked about their experience. The surgeon’s experience with your spine issue is critically important. Ask how many procedures they perform per month or year. Ask about their success rate.


  • Referrals. Your primary care physician is the most logical place to get a referral.


  • Recommendations from friends and family. If you don’t have friends, extended family, or coworkers with some experience with a spine surgeon, online reviews are available.


  • Online reviews. Check sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. RateMD, Vitals, and HealthMed also publish patient reviews.


  • Non-surgical options. Are they willing and able to talk about alternatives to orthopedic surgery? This might not apply to all conditions, but it makes sense to ask.


  • Specialization. Look for someone who focuses on spine surgery versus general osteopathic procedures.


  • Success rate. Higher is always better.


Take notes. During your consultation, you might want to ask the physician about some of the things you’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about alternative treatments. 

The physician should be happy to explain why there is no alternative to surgery if that is true. If there are treatment options, the doctor will explain them.

If you need spine surgery, contact our office to set up a consultation now.


Questions to Ask a Spine Surgeon

Finally, consider this question: Do you feel comfortable with how the surgeon answered your questions? A good surgeon will explain things to you in plain English, matter-of-factly answer questions, and accept a second opinion as common practice. 

If one spine surgeon recommends a procedure and the second recommends something else, both surgeons should be willing and able to explain their chosen treatment.


  • Did the surgeon offer several options or immediately start talking about surgery?
  • Did the surgeon discuss their diagnosis with you?
  • Do they take your insurance?


Add what you learn to what you’ve learned when going through the checklist above.

Any good surgeon will help you feel comfortable by answering these questions without being evasive or defensive.


Experience Counts

Only consider a board-certified surgeon in good standing with a medical authority. A certified, fellowship-trained surgeon will have the right skills and the right experience to handle your operation. 

You want someone who regularly performs the procedure you need and has a success rate. Don’t put up with back pain any longer.

If you are ready to speel with an experienced specialist who has successfully treated a range of spine problems, call our office to arrange a consultation.