Do you need surgery or physical therapy? A second opinion can help you decide

December 18, 2014 in Second Opinion  •  By Miles Varn
Surgery or Physical Therapy

If you’re living with a musculoskeletal problem, simple movements like walking up the stairs, washing your hair or typing an email can cause pain in your muscles and joints. Once the pain caused by an illness or injury makes movement difficult, you’ll want to see a physician who can treat the root cause of your pain.

If the doctor recommends surgery to treat your orthopedic problem, you should consider seeking a second opinion before agreeing to surgical treatment. All surgeries come with risks, and this is why it’s often best to try conservative treatments first.

Second opinion prevents unnecessary surgery
A few years ago, our team worked with a client from London, who had an acute tear of the palmaris longus (a muscle that helps you bend your wrist) of his left hand and needed a second opinion. He decided he wanted to be treated in the U.S. and requested a Physician Referral Report that included the top hand surgeons in the nation.

Physician Referral Reports provide in-depth information that helps individuals and families make more informed decisions about their care, and connects them with the most qualified resources for addressing the health issue that they face. The reports include information about doctors’ backgrounds, education, areas of expertise, board certifications, hospital affiliations and insurance plans they accept.

After helping the client select a surgeon for consultation, a member of our team accompanied him to the doctor’s appointment, where he received a second opinion. The consulting physician concluded that the¬†client didn’t need surgery, and that physical therapy would be an equally effective option to treat his injury.

Ask the right questions
Between 10 and 20 percent of medical diagnoses are missed, delayed or ultimately proven to be wrong. If you’ve been advised to undergo surgery for a musculoskeletal condition, it’s important to consider a second opinion. Ask the consulting physician the following questions:

  1. What are the benefits and risks associated with this surgery?
  2. What are the alternative treatment options, and what are the risks and benefits of the alternative options?
  3. How long and restrictive will recovery time be?

If you need help weighing the pros and cons of surgery and nonsurgical alternatives, a second opinion can help you make this important decision.