Nearly everyone, as we age, develops arthritis of the spine. Many patients are told that they “need" surgery based on x-ray findings. Rest assured, it is very uncommon to “need” surgery for the spine.
In fact, inspite of severe findings on x-rays, most people can avoid surgery! In many cases, surgery will make you worse. Most can be treated symptomatically with physical therapy and medications. However, if you are having severe balance problems, hand coordination difficulties, worsening weakness, or bowel and bladder incontinence, surgery may be needed. Contact your primary doctor or specialist. I often tell patients, “I won’t tell you when it’s time to have surgery. You will tell me.” Most can be treated symptomatically with physical therapy and medications. I will never talk you into surgery.