Back Surgery: Not a Decision to Take Lightly
Low back pain is becoming more and more prevalent. 20% of adults between 20 and 59 years old experience chronic low back pain. Unfortunately, low back pain is the second most common reason that people visit their doctor (number one is flu symptoms). Surgery has long been considered one of the primary treatments for low back pain, however, more and more studies are coming out that surgery is often ineffective and even dangerous.
about back surgery
Approximately 600,000 back surgeries are performed in the United States every year but the question of effectiveness of such surgeries have been raised. In one study released in 2011, researchers reviewed data from the Ohio Worker’s Compensation Bureau. From this sample they found that 1,450 patients had disc degeneration, disc herniation, or radiculopathy (nerve disease). Out of those 1,450, 50% underwent spinal fusion surgery and the other half did not. After two years, they found some troubling news - only 26% of those who had the spinal fusion surgery were able to go to work, compared to 67% of those who opted out of the surgery. Additionally, those who had the surgery increased their use of painkillers by 41%. Those who had surgery had less function and more pain than those who did not have surgery.
It’s not that I’ve never seen a successful low back surgery. But in order to even consider surgery, patients should be in an emergency situation where the outcome is worth the risk. There’s a trifecta of symptoms that tell us (the doctors) that the patient is in an emergency situation. This trifecta is the following symptoms: severe low back pain radiating into the leg, bowel and or bladder dysfunction, and weakness. Just having low back pain is not reason enough to risk the possible outcome that your back will feel worse afterward and your function may decrease. For those considering surgery, it is wise to seek a second opinion and try noninvasive forms of therapy first, such as chiropractic treatment. Studies have shown that 30% of the time there are conflicts of agreement when a second opinion is sought. Additionally, chiropractors are experts in musculoskeletal conditions whereas primary care physicians usually are not. Chiropractic treatment is also extremely conservative. Compare an adjustment where joint mobilization is used simply by applying a specific pressure to the joint to cutting through muscle, bone and disc and often applying hardware.
Bottom line - if you are in pain, first seek the least invasive form of treatment. Start by getting the advice of an expert in the field; in this case, a Chiropractor. Discuss some possible routes of treatment to relieve your back pain.
Have you recently been advised to seek surgery for your back pain by your medical doctor? If so, schedule a free 10 minute consultation with Dr. Finnegan today to get a second opinion by calling (510) 922-1579 or emailing us at email@example.com. You can also shoot us a text at (510) 692-9948.
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