I am hoping to get any advice on getting a 2nd opinion and tips on making sure I am getting the right information and working with a knowledgeable doctor. Surgery has been recommended for me and I want to make the right decision for me. I live in the Seattle area and would appreciate recommendations on Orthopedic surgeons and/or references to patients with this type of injury if anyone has any.
Here's my situation:
- I had a motorcycle accident on 8/30/09 and was diagnosed with a compression fracture at T12. After hospitalization, I continued my recovery at home and told to wear an extension brace. I began my follow-up with the trauma doctor who treated me at the hospital (who is a surgeon even though I did not have surgery). He asked I see him every two weeks with him for 6-8 weeks. He also set my expectations that I would be "up and at it" in no more than 10 weeks.
- 5 weeks into my recovery, I began having horrible muscle spasms and jabbing pains up my right leg each time I took a step. I mentioned this to my doctor and he prescribed muscle relaxers. No scans or x-rays were ordered.
- At 7 weeks, I began Physical Therapy when I was not seeing improvement. My PT asked to see the follow-up xrays to inform her treatment plan. I followed-up with my doctor to request a new x-ray, but was referred back to my primary care doctor...which I didn't have.
- Thankfully my PT gave me the names of doctors with good reputations among patients at her clinic. My new primary care doctor immediately ordered x-rays and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon very quickly. He was surprised I had not had any follow-up images taken or my muscle spasms addressed.
- The orthopedic surgeon has now reviewed all prior charts, ordered new x-rays and a CT scan. He took the time to review these with me and confirmed that I do not have a compression fracture, but rather a burst fracture with flextion-distraction at T12. He also ruled out other fractures, which no one had done previously. Additionally, the CT scan also shows bone fragments putting pressure on my spinal cord, although I don't have notable neurological symptoms. (The muscle spasm and pain in my right leg are now intermittent, but not gone.) I have a follow-up next week to discuss surgical options with him.
Given my experience with the trauma surgeon, I am very anxious. I am trying to do as much research as possible on this injury, asking everyone I know if they know other patients who have had this type of injury. I also plan to my new surgeon for references when I see him and ask lots of questions. In the meantime, I welcome any advice on how to get a second opinion and how to go about checking-out my new doctor so that I don't repeat what happened earlier again. I feels like a big leap to go from "up and at it" in 10 weeks, to contemplating surgery...it's overwhelming.
Thanks in advance for any advice!