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Should I have surgery?

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on PainScience.com are updated regularly over the years.

People often seem to expect me to be clearly for or against orthopedic surgery for a specific condition, as if the diagnosis is the only factor, as if people with certain conditions should almost always have surgery, or almost never. Putting aside the absurdity of asking me, a non-surgeon, it’s obviously more complicated than that. Here’s my standard basic answer to “should I have surgery?”:

Many orthopaedic surgeries are proving to be mostly bogus (see Louw et al), so we must be quite wary. But there is always a real chance that surgery is worth it for your case … even if it’s probably not worth it for 20 other people. So you have to ask a couple surgeons about your case, and ignore the ones who don’t seem to be aware of how often surgery fails. The best shot you can have at knowing if surgery is a good idea is to have a good conversation about it with a humble surgeon.

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