The primary purpose of back surgery or neck surgery is to correct an anatomical lesion in individuals who fail to show improvement with conservative (nonsurgical) treatment. Surgery is not an option for patients when an anatomical lesion accounting for their pain can not be identified.Surgery is only useful to change a patient’s anatomy (e.g. remove a disc herniation). There is almost never any reason to consider exploratory surgery to “look” for a cause of pain.
Failing conservative treatment is not in and of itself an indication for surgery. An identifiable anatomic lesion is also necessary.