Just this past August I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation of my CT scan and MRI. The purpose of the visit was to obtain a second opinion as to the cause of my ongoing back and leg pain. After a brief series of questions regarding the nature of my symptoms, the doctor pulled up my MRI. After a quick glance, he confidently asserted that the culprit for my pain was almost certainly disc herniation and degeneration at L4-L5. I found this hard to believe in light of the following: No pain elicited from bending at the waist, twisting or lifting No relief obtained from receiving a cortisone shot directly into the supposedly affected nerve bundle No pain in my lower back - instead the pain is focused in my right knee/foot and my upper back/shoulder I asked him repeatedly how he could confidently make such a diagnosis in light of this information. He expertly sidestepped all of my questions, then circled back around to assure me once again that my pain was due to the worn out disc. When I asked him how sure he was of this, he replied “70%-80%”. I asked him what treatment options were available and he suggested that surgery to replace the disc would likely be my only choice. And if that weren’t bad enough, he told me that an artificial disc would only be likely to last roughly 10 years. Perhaps the most sickening part of the entire ordeal was the casual, breezy manner with which he informed me of all this. Even though his diagnosis made no sense, I felt after awhile that he must be right. He seemed so confident, and is a doctor after all. I left the consultation feeling more hopeless than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I would never have a life without pain. I moved through the remainder of the day in a haze of shock, despair, panic and terrible physical pain. Even in light of the progress I’ve made, I still keep that experience in the back of my mind. In my darkest moments, I still wonder if he might have been right. Whenever this happens, I attempt to remind myself that fear is often irrational and that there is no reason to put much stock in his diagnosis. After all, what surgeon WOULDN'T recommend surgery?