One of the questions I get from my patients, and a popular one I get on the comments of my Ask Dr. Geier videos is how you can know you need surgery. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I am going to do my best to discuss it, knowing that every injury and patient are different.

How can you know if you need surgery for an injury?

Let me get the obvious out of the way first. You can’t, unless you see an orthopedic surgeon and he shows you that you need surgery. The bone being crooked or out of place is certainly serious, but all fractures and dislocations don’t always need surgery to treat them.

One important point to consider is that orthopedic surgery can do very well at relieving pain if there is structural damage present. Surgery for pain when nothing is obviously damaged – broken bone, torn ligament or tendon, etc. – is much more unpredictable. As orthopedic surgeons, we aim to find a structural problem that we can fix.

How to know if you need surgery for an injury

Another time when we often consider surgery is when nothing else is working. A patient might have tried physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, braces, injections, rest, activity modification and more and still not be able to do what he or she wants to do.

Since every patient is different, and every body part and injury is different, it’s worth discussing surgical and nonsurgical treatment options with your orthopedic surgeon and make the best decision for you.

Also read:
Should you have surgery for a small area of cartilage damage?
What does prehab involve before ACL surgery?

Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, on my website, on my podcast, or in social media. My responses are meant to provide general medical information and education. Please consult your physician or health care provider for your specific medical concerns.

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