When to Have a Healthy Skepticism
Dr. Stuart R. McGill is one of my main guys. He is the world’s leading spine biomechanicist, which means he understands how the spine functions better than 99.9% of the people in the world.
Seeing as the spine is an extremely mysterious part of the human body, that is really saying something.
Amid the myriad eye-opening things Dr. McGill says regarding back health, he emphasizes the need to ask questions whenever you’re faced with a possible medical procedure. Of course, this advice applies to pain in other areas too. When we go to a doctor with symptoms and she recommends surgery, it is important to understand how the doctor knows that the surgery is necessary.
Did your doctor hear you describe your symptoms, nod her head, and simply prescribe medications and/or surgery? Or did she ask you questions about them and about your lifestyle in an attempt to understand their root cause?
Did the doctor gather information about your symptoms merely by looking at images like X-rays and MRIs of the offending bodypart? Or did she actually examine you and witness your symptoms, or refer you to a specialist who has the necessary training to do so?
Is this doctor’s approach based entirely on her own observations and knowledge? Or does she work with a network of medical professionals and specialists to find a solution to the overall problem besides potentially addictive and hazardous medication and costly, irreversible surgery?
Doctors, surgeons, and clinicians are trained a certain way, and certain situations are to be addressed with certain routines. Much of the time, they mean well. But remember, it’s your body. A doctor who says that surgery is the only option better be the good type that I describe above, who has assessed you properly, gathered information, worked with specialists as needed, and gone to great lengths to avoid cutting you open.
At the very least, any doctor who’s talking about surgery better have a list of success stories and positive reviews from her patients.
If a doctor cannot do these simple things, you should strongly consider finding another one who can. When your condition is being managed and your pain is gone---and you’re still in one piece---you will know the search was worth it.