Practice Blog

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Back and Spine Doctor

December 15, 2021

Would you like to know which questions to ask before choosing a back and spine doctor? Read on to learn everything that you need to know on the subject.


Doctors do approximately 6.6 million orthopedic surgeries per year in the US – and with the aging population, that number is increasing more each year. That also means that orthopedic surgeons are some of the most practiced surgeons in the world.

This is what you want to hear when you’re looking for a back and spine doctor. If you’ve been referred for back or spine surgery and are looking into your options, check out this guide on questions to ask your potential doc.

Things to Look Up Online About Your Spine Doctor

When you’re looking at the clinics compatible with your health insurance, they should have a page that introduces their physicians, with their full name, title, and a short introduction. Once you’ve found that information, take a few minutes to Google the Doctors name (use place and MD to get more specific results).

This should take you to their credentials, such as the date of their last board certification, which states they’re licensed in, and if they’ve published or been involved in any research recently.

If you have questions about their experience, this gives you a good starting point when you meet them in person for your consultation appointment.

Questions to Ask the Doctor (or the Staff) At the Office:

All surgeons are doctors, but not all doctors are surgeons. And surgery skill is measured by the number of surgeries someone does a year (dependent on local averages and patient base). Ask them what their average number of surgeries is a year, as well as the number of the specific surgery you’re getting.

Second, you want to ask them if they were fellowship-trained. Medical school has a lot of stages and surgeons go through extra training – a fellowship is an extra optional year doctors can opt into to further hone their craft. Since the spine is such a delicate structure, the more training the doctor has, the better!

What are the risks of this surgery? Unlike some other professions, it’s part of a surgeon’s job to tell you exactly what could go wrong, what you’re personally at risk for, and how likely those scenarios are to happen. No doctor, spine or not, should ever guarantee you results or success in a procedure. Most go well, but there’s always a chance of complications.

Questions About the Surgery Itself

Once you’re comfortable with your surgeon, it’s time to start asking questions about your procedure. Your referring doctor likely explained the different procedures a surgeon would recommend to you when they referred you, but that was weeks ago. You want to have enough of an understanding that you can explain the mechanisms and the purpose of the surgery, though you don’t have to know the exact vocabulary.

What’s the recovery look like? Knowing what to expect after your surgery is essential for your comfort, safety, and for the other people involved, like your job that you’re taking time off from. Knowing this as soon as possible will allow you to make the appropriate arrangements for a successful recovery.

Any other questions you have — doctors choose their craft because they love helping people, so don’t be shy about your questions. This is your body, your procedure, and ultimately your choice. Make sure you’re comfortable!

Finding The Right Back and Spine Doctor For You

We have the utmost faith in Dr. Moulton and if our staff were in need, they would choose him to operate on them in a heartbeat. We hope that after you meet him, you’ll feel the same.

To get started and meet our back and spine doctor, click on our patient portal or contact us today.

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