I had a client visit me last week with a difficult but not uncommon situation. She is an active school teacher who injured her shoulder. The MRI showed a tear in her shoulder, but it was questionable if it was the source of her pain. She explained, “My dilemma is if I postpone my surgery I will have to wait three months for another opportunity. If that happens, I will lose time teaching, but if I wait until next summer, then insurance will not pay”. I asked, “How much time do you have before you must decide?” She replied, “I have one week to decide whether to get surgery”.

I have unfortunately consulted with too many people in this same situation. Surgery is expensive and recovery takes time . Too often, potential surgical candidates have mistaken the word “recovery” with “pre-injury status.” The body absolutely recovers in 6-8 weeks, but to achieve pre-injury status could take anywhere from one to five years depending how diligent the patient.

The fact is surgery interrupts your life–no matter how simple. The reason professional athletes can return so quickly after surgery is they are highly motivated and have an organization footing the bill for the long hours of highly supervised rehab. Most insurance companies would never pay for all the reinforcement; and motivation without reinforcement is very difficult.

Surgery is never an easy question, but before you decide, do some serious research . As for my client’s situation, time and the insurance company’s willingness to pay compelled her into surgery. The following is a list of questions you should try to answer or at least ponder before you decide to get surgery.

Download PreSurgeryQuestions.pdf