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What are your thoughts on surgical versus non-surgical spine intervention?

Even though I am a spine surgeon, I am a huge advocate for non-surgical care. In fact, my clinic was developed with the idea that we wanted to take care of patients primarily through non-operative means. That is why we have physical therapists, a neurologist, and pain specialists in the practice. We also commonly refer to outside therapists, pain specialists, and neurologists.

The non- operative efforts are very important and require multiple disciplines working together synchronously. We really focus on the conservative efforts prior to any consideration for surgery. Surgery is reserved for patients who have failed all conservative efforts and who have severe debilitating symptoms that only surgery has a chance of alleviating. Often the structural stability of the spine has become so compromised that only a structural solution like surgery, will effectively eradicate the symptoms. When nerves are severely compressed and do not improve with time or injections, they may need to be released directly through surgical means. Therefore, although surgery is usually the last option, it is at times the best or only option left to provide any significant chance of improving.

I believe in surgery and its ability to return people to a functional life once again. However, surgery should be carefully considered, and conscientiously performed. It’s very important for patients to do their research on surgeons they are considering by looking at patient testimonials of MANY patients. The truth is in the outcomes and often even medical personnel fail to see the clinical results of a surgeon they work with daily. Very few people see what the patients look like after surgery in the clinic and this is it the most important determining factor for whom you should go to. Therefore, seek the opinion of multiple patients and look for reviews that are heartfelt and lengthy, to determine if your surgeon is the right one for you. When it comes to spine surgery, I highly recommend seeking only Fellowship-trained surgeons. Spine surgery is a highly specialized field and the outcomes can be less than ideal if you aren’t careful who you select. We have all heard of or have seen the horror stories, but spine surgery can really improve your life. Choose wisely and follow ALL the post-operative instructions.

Steven J. Cyr, M.D., is a spine surgeon who has gained a reputation for surgical excellence in Texas, throughout the nation, and abroad. He has fixed the most complicated, failed spine surgeries imaginable and credits his training at the prestigious Mayo Clinic for giving him the surgical foundation necessary to address these concerns. 

To find out more or to contact Dr. Steven Cyr M.D., please call 210-487-7463 (San Antonio) / 832-919-7990 (Houston) or visit