That is a bold statement, but it is true. If spinal surgery is used only in situations where it is known to work, then it almost always works.
Spinal canal stenosis and you are struggling to walk - surgery will almost always improve your walking.
A disc herniation pushing on a nerve - surgery will almost always reduce your pain faster than any other treatment.
A collapsed worn out spine with unbalanced scoliosis and you a "Leaning Tower of Pisa" - surgery will almost always improve your balance.
Still growing and have a severe scoliosis - surgery can correct the balance and stop the curve from getting worse.
Spondylolisthesis with nerve compression - surgery will almost always fix the leg pain, and probably fix the back pain.
Infection not controlled by antibiotics - surgery can help.
Unstable spinal fractures - surgery can help.
Tumours or cancers not treatable with chemotherapy or radiotherapy - surgery can help.
There is a lot surgery can do, and most of the time it makes a big difference.
With a few exceptions, almost all pain gets better over time.
90% of all spine problems are temporary.
Regardless of the size of a disc herniation (slipped disc) 90% get better with time.
Cervical (neck) disc problems get better 95% of the time.
If there is no weakness, and no underlying progressive disease (such as tumour / infection / fracture ), then waiting rarely causes problems.
Mr Knight will always direct you to reasonable non-surgical options.
Some referring doctors will have already exhausted all non-surgical options. Then the choice is more straight forward.
People having spinal surgery need to have patience, persistence and perspective.
There is a surgical adage: "We heal with steel". Nothing could be farther from the truth. The end of the operation is just the end of the beginning.
Surgery is an injury added to your existing problem. You have to recover from both to get maximum benefit.
It is common to take 12-24 months to obtain full recovery.
Sometimes the healing undoes the surgery. Most spine surgery involves making space for nerves . Scar tissue that forms as a normal part of healing can back-fill the space surgery created. It is one reason for repeat operations.
Time is still ageing you, even as you are recovering from surgery.
Other parts of your spine and body will continue to wear and change with time.
This is why up to 30 % of patients having spine surgery come back for more.
A surgeon who has completed specific post-fellowship training in spinal surgery and who does at least 50 spine operations a year.
Mr Knight is an Orthopaedic surgeon, who spent 2002 in Canada as a Spine Surgery Fellow at Sunnybrook, Toronto.
For the last 20 years, Mr Knight has worked as a Spine Surgeon at Austin Health, Monash Health, Eastern Health, Melbourne Health and Goulburn Valley public hospital networks. Currently he is a spine surgeon at Linacre Private Hospital, Holmesglen Private Hospital and Peninsula Private Hospital.
Mr Knight has performed 350 spinal procedures (on average) each year for the last 20 years.
Neurosurgeons and Orthopaedic surgeons do exactly the same spine surgery and get exactly the same post-fellowship training.
Neurosurgeons also do surgery on the brain and spinal cord - which is surgery Orthopaedic surgeons cannot do.
Orthopaedic surgeons do skeletal surgery, such as hip and knee replacements and fix fractures - which is surgery Neurosurgeons cannot do.
Yet when it comes to spinal surgery, essentially there is no difference between Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical spinal surgeons.
Back pain in people under 50 without major structural abnormalities should never be treated with spinal surgery.
Anyone having a MRI after the age of 25 will have "abnormalities". Most of these findings are normal for age. They are not major structural failings, but are just the ravages of time. Like grey hair and wrinkly skin. These conditions can never be improved by surgery.
There are lots of other options available and Mr Knight is happy to discuss these with you, and refer you to the correct person.