What should I expect at my office visit?

A history of your symptoms will be taken and Dr. Cartwright will perform a physical examination. He will review any test results or other information that you bring with you and may order additional testing if necessary. He then discusses your condition and treatment recommendations with you. If this involves additional non-surgical care, Dr. Cartwright will make appropriate referrals.

What should I bring to my office visit?

The more information that you can provide to Dr. Cartwright with respect to previous testing and treatments , the better he will be able to determine your options going forward.

Bring all of the following that are available:

  1. Imaging reports ( X-ray, MRI, CTs)
  2. Injection reports
  3. EMG reports
  4. Operative reports (If you’ve had previous spinal surgery, you should be able to get these from your surgeon’s office or the hospital where the procedure was performed).

Dr. Cartwright WILL want to see the actual pictures (typically on a CD) of any X-rays, MRI or CT studies done within the past 12 months.

How can I get questions answered after the visit?

Please call during office hours and our staff will get back to you with answers to your questions as time permits, typically within 24 hours. Forms and tests results can be shared through our patient portal. We do not routinely use email for patient care.

What if I have more questions before surgery?

If you have a few simple questions, you can call and the office staff can typically answer them. If the questions are more involved, a face to face office visit is sometimes better. If you have doubts, Dr. Cartwright always encourages a second opinion.

When can I have surgery?

Dr. Cartwright typically operates on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We understand people’s schedules can be difficult and we strive to accommodate your schedule and the urgency of your condition.

Who will obtain insurance authorization?

Once surgery is scheduled, we will obtain insurance authorization and give you up to date information regarding your deductible, out of pocket expenses, etc.

Should I start of stop any medications prior to surgery?

All anti-inflammatory medication, Vitamin E and fish oil should be discontinued 5 days prior to surgery because they thin the blood to some extent. Traditional blood thinners such as Coumadin, Eliquis, Lovenox, Xarelto and Pradaxa will also need to be discontinued 5 days prior to surgery. You will need to coordinate this with the physician that prescribes those medications to you.

How long is the hospital stay?

It depends on the type of surgery you have. Some people go home on the day of the surgery, and some people spend the night. Rarely is a 2nd night necessary except for larger procedures

How much pain can I expect after surgery?

Obviously there will be surgical pain but it is typically controllable with medication. Everyone handles pain differently. We take a lot of effort to minimize post-operative pain. The first night is usually the most difficult and each day after that gets better. The pain is generally worst in the first few days and progressively resolves. Within a week or two after surgery, patients start to feel better than they did before the procedure.

What medications will I take after surgery?

This varies from patient to patient. It depends on the patient’s allergies and what you are on prior to surgery. Most patients receive a prescription for hydrocodone after surgery for pain control. If you are already on stronger pain medications prior to surgery, please make arrangements with the doctor prescribing them to you to continue the medications and adjust them as needed.

How long is the recovery?

For non- fusion procedures, such as microdiscectomies, decompressions and laminectomies, the typical total recovery time including rehabilitation is 3 to 4 months. For fusions, the typical total recovery time is 6-9 months.

Will I have any limitations after surgery?

Post-operative restrictions typically include limited bending, lifting over 10 pounds and twisting. You can bend to get dressed or for personal hygiene, but not for doing any chores, work or other unnecessary activities.

For non-fusion procedures (microdiscectomy, decompression or laminectomy) these limitations last for 6 weeks.

For fusion procedures these limitations last for a minimum of 3 months, depending upon the progression of the fusion on post-operative x-rays.

What do I do after surgery?

Many people ask about what to expect after surgery. If you have questions, please feel free to call. You will be given post op instructions in your surgery packet.

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Houston Advanced Spine


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm