How to Choose the Best Spine Surgeon?



The National Institute of Neurological Disorders reports that almost 80% of Americans will endure back pain that needs some form of treatment. When you have back pain you want it to stop, and you want it to stop now. Whether it’s sudden pain from a disc herniation or chronic pain from a prior injury, you deserve a specialist who can identify and treat your spine condition in a timely, competent, and efficient manner.

Who are you going to trust with your spine?

Read on for our pointers on how to choose the best spine surgeon in South Florida.

Do Some Research Beforehand

Most patients start the search for a spinal surgeon because their primary care physicians can’t treat their back pain, and surgery seems to be the only option. We recommend researching potential candidates. Here are a few basic qualifications that the surgeon needs to match.

Are they board-certified?

A board-certified orthopedic surgeon is a doctor who has completed additional training through the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

For a U.S. physician to become board certified in an orthopedic surgical specialty, they must complete the required years of residency training in that specialty and then demonstrate their knowledge by completing a rigorous thorough examination.

You can verify if your spine surgeon is board certified here.

Most spine surgeons will have their ABOS certification on display in their office, as well.

Watch this informative video from ABOS on how to choose an orthopedic surgeon:

Are they fellowship-trained?

After medical school, all surgeons undergo three additional training phases:

  1. Internship (usually one year)
  2. Residency (between 4-6 years)
  3. Fellowship (usually one year)

A fellowshiptrained orthopedic surgeon is a doctor who has completed a minimum of 13 years of education and has concluded an additional year of specialty training in a specific field of orthopedic surgery in a certified fellowship program.

Read Some Reviews

Websites like HealthGrades give past patients a chance to rate their physicians on a scale of 1 to 5 stars.

While most of these reviews are authentic, it is wise to remember that patients who have had negative experiences are more inclined to leave a review than those with positive ones. So review websites are usually more representative of the unfavorable outcomes.

You should let these reviews be a part of your decision-making process, but not be the most important factor.

Have a Consultation With Your Prospective Spine Surgeon

A simple way to narrow down the list of your potential spine surgeon candidates is to call their offices and request a consultation. Most of them will encourage and support you in meeting with the surgeon, but some of them won’t.

If a doctor isn’t prepared to accommodate you with an opportunity to meet them before a procedure you should instantly cross them off your list.

Come Prepared With Questions

You should do some research prior to your consultation on what your condition usually entails. For those of us who didn’t attend medical school, this sort of research will produce many questions.

Make a list and present it to the doctor during your consultation. A good spine surgeon will listen attentively to your inquiries, validate your concerns, and explain everything in detail.

If the doctor makes you feel silly or embarrassed for asking questions you can and should leave them out of your list of candidates. Your consultation is merely the first of many communications you’ll have with the surgeon who operates on you, and if you feel like you can’t ask them questions you’ll not trust them enough, which, in turn, will affect your mental and physical state. You need to feel comfortable at all times – which takes us to the next point on our list:

Make Sure Your Spine Surgeon Makes You Feel Comfortable

This point is crucial. Remember that you’ll see your chosen Spine Surgeon at least a few times, and in some cases, you will see them more often. Your health and well-being are literally in their hands. So, it’s especially critical that you feel comfortable asking questions, and you feel convinced that you trust them. 

Ask If Surgery is Necessary

Consultations with a specialist often show that less invasive procedures could resolve a condition or help treat pain. Most spine doctors, even spine surgeons, will suggest non-surgical treatment options before considering surgery.

A good physician knows that surgery is painful and always involves recovery and they should help you understand any other alternatives before scheduling a surgery.

If you’re looking for the best spine surgeons in South Florida, look no more!

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Dr. Hepler, an orthopedic spine surgeon in Delray Beach and Fort Lauderdale 

Dr. Matthew Hepler, an orthopedic spine surgeon in Delray Beach and Fort Lauderdale provides leading expertise in the operative (back surgery) and non-operative treatment of the spine with individualized care.

Dr. Hepler is a Board Certified (ABOS) and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon with more than 17 years of experience.

He completed a comprehensive adult and pediatric spine fellowship with a focus on complex deformity and treats the full spectrum of spine conditions (back pain, disc herniation, spinal stenosis, sciatica, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine fracture, failed back surgery).

He has clinics in the following convenient locations:

If you would like to learn more about our orthopedic spine surgeon, dr Matthew Hepler, please Contact Us.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.