Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions
What are the offices' business hours and locations?
What insurances are accepted?
Do I need a referral to make an appointment?
What should I bring with me for my first appt.?
What can I expect from my first visit with Dr. Lin?
Clinical Questions
Do I have choices before considering surgery?
Is there medication I can take?
What is an epidural steroid injection (ESI)?
What is a pain management specialist?
Can physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, or acupuncture help with my neck or back problems?
Surgery Questions
When should I consider spine sugery?
Does spine surgery work?
How long can I expect to be in the hospital?
What is recovery like and what can I expect?
When can I resume normal activities and working?
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What are the offices' business hours and locations?

Fullerton: St. Jude Heritage Spine Center

100 E Valencia Mesa Drive, Suite 310
Fullerton, CA 92835
Monday - Friday: 8am - 5pm
Phone: (714) 446-5200
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Irvine: Spine & Pain Institute of Orange County

113 Waterworks Way, Suite 240
Irvine, CA 92618
Monday - Friday: 8am - 5pm
Phone: (949) 340-9622
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What insurances are accepted?

We cover most popular insurance plans at one or both of our locations. These plans include, but are not limited to: Aetna Health Plans, Humana Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cinga Health Insurance, CalOptima Health Plans, Beech Street Insurance, Medicare, Coventry Health Plans, PacifiCare Health Plans, Health Net Insurance Scan Health Plans, and Great West Healthcare. View this page for more details.

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Do I need a referral to make an appointment with Dr. Lin?

Depending on your insurance plan, you may or may not need a referral from your Primary Care Physician (PCP) to have access to see a specialist, such as Dr. Lin. Typically, patients under an HMO plan may need a referral. In contrast, patients under a PPO plan or Medicare do not need a referral from their PCP and are welcome to simply contact our office for an appointment. If you are unclear, please feel free to call your insurance plan or Dr. Lin's office for assistance.

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What should I bring with me for my first appointment?

When you come for your appointment please remember to obtain and bring the following:
  • Drivers License or a valid ID
  • Insurance information
  • Referral Letter (if required)
  • Reports, X-rays, MRI's, CT scans etc and any other relevant information
  • List of medications (if any)
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What can I expect from my first visit with Dr. Lin?

The first office visit will include a complete overview of your health related to your spinal condition(s), obtained from the initial patient questionnaire, office staff, and Dr Lin. If you do not have current X-ray images available for review, these are typically taken on the day of the visit, prior to seeing Dr Lin. If further diagnostic testing is required, Dr Lin may refer you after discussing the options. Once your diagnosis is made, Dr Lin will thoroughly review your treatment options and develop a plan with you to ultimately resolve your symptoms.

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When should I consider spine surgery?

As mentioned above, there are many instances when symptoms from spinal conditions can be improved with non-surgical care. However, if symptoms persist despite a trial of these options, surgery may be a solution.

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Does spine surgery work?

Yes. Utilizing the most advanced techniques available, Dr Lin believes that for the right patient, for the right condition, AND with the correct procedure, spine surgery is very reliably beneficial for his patients. In fact, recent studies have shown that when performed under these circumstances and indications, spine surgery is one of the most successful of ANY surgeries that current medical care has to offer.

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How long can I expect to be in the hospital?

Need for hospitalization after surgery is becoming less and less frequent. Most surgeries that Dr Lin performs are performed on an outpatient basis, not requiring an inpatient stay in the hospital. Although the surgery may be performed in a hospital setting, patients are able to go home the same day. However, if the surgery does involve an inpatient stay, Dr Lin will closely monitor your care over those 2-3 days typically required.

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What is recovery like and what can I expect?

There are many factors that play into a patient's recovery after surgery. In addition, every different type of surgery has its own specific post-operative recovery and instructions. Furthermore, one patient's definition of "recovery" may be different than another patient's definition. Dr Lin has provided his own literature to help you understand what the process of having your specific surgery is, with regards to pre-op and post-op expectations.

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When can I resume normal activities and return to work?

As above, this will be determined by the specifics of your particular surgery. As you can imagine, it also depends on what activities are "normal" and what type of work you are returning to. Dr Lin will discuss this in detail with you, at your pre-op and post-op appointments, so it corresponds with your specific circumstance. View specific post-operative recovery instructions here.

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Do I have choices before considering surgery?

Yes. There are very few spinal conditions that require surgery as the first option. The overwhelming majority of patients are able to start with non-operative care prior to even considering surgery. Although Dr Lin is a surgeon, he has confidence in conservative measures successfully helping patients' spinal conditions. If he feels you are a candidate for these options, he will discuss these in detail with you and refer you for treatment by experts in those fields. In addition, you will likely follow up with him in the office routinely as you progress, to ensure you are achieving your goals.

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Is there medication I can take to help manage the pain?

Yes. Every patient, and their specific condition, is unique and their medication regimen must be tailored accordingly. Common medications for pain that are initially taken are over the counter anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, naproxen). If this is not sufficient, occasionally patients will require prescription strength anti-inflammatories, pain medications, or muscle relaxers. Read more about pain medications here.

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Can physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, or acupuncture help with my neck and/or back problems?

Yes. Again, treatments must be specific to your particular condition but in general, physical modalities such as PT, chiropractic treatment, or acupuncture may be of benefit for soft tissue/muscular injuries. If you are a good candidate for these therapies, Dr Lin can refer you to highly reputable practitioners. Read more about these treatments here.

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What is an epidural steroid injection (ESI)?

Epidural steroid injections are safe, effective procedures that are commonly performed for many neck/back conditions. Unlike "epidurals" that are given for labor/birth, these are in-office procedures performed under fluoroscopic (X-ray) guidance to ensure precise and accurate placement of the medication. The mixture consists of a numbing medicine (anesthetic) and anti-inflammatory (steroid), which is injected into the space surrounding the spinal nerves. This results in a reduction in pain and inflammation in that area. The procedure itself typically lasts no more than 5-10 minutes and is well tolerated by patients. Dr Lin does not perform these injections himself but can refer you to fellowship trained specialists for the procedure after diagnosing your exact condition. Read more about epidural steroid injections here.

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What is a pain management specialist and how can they help?

Pain management specialists have training in the non-surgical care of all pain syndromes. They are experts in the field of medication management for pain, both acute and chronic. In addition, if the pain management physician is fellowship trained in interventional procedures, his expertise would include performing specialized injection-based therapies for pain, such as epidural steroid injections.

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