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Why it May Be Best to Avoid Back Surgery (if Possible)

Written by: Lamark Media
November 21, 2016
If you’ve been suffering from back pain for weeks, you likely sought out the help of an experienced doctor to get a diagnosis for the underlying issue. If surgery was suggested, you may be facing a tough decision with no clear cut answer.

Some individuals prefer to avoid back surgery for as long as possible and seek more conservative treatments. If you are considering surgery, researching the surgeries available and their outcomes can help guide you in making your decision.

Back Surgery: The Facts

An estimated 600,000 people undergo back surgery each year in the United States. Back pain is also one of the leading causes of days of work missed. According to the Mayo Clinic, spinal decompression surgeries, spinal fusions, and implantation of artificial vertebral discs are some of the most common types of surgeries. Since 2001, spinal fusion procedures have increased by more than 70%.

If surgery is suggested, it may be traditional or minimally invasive. Traditional spine surgery is considered open surgery. A long incision allows the surgeon to view and access the affected area. Advances in spinal surgery have led to minimally invasive surgery, which involves a small incision and the use of special tools that create a tunnel to the area affected.

Laser surgery is also an option and is similar to minimally invasive surgery, but may involve the use of a laser to remove tumors, bone, and soft tissue, or to shrink disc material around a spinal nerve.

Surgical Failure

Back surgery is supposed to be a solution to your back issues. Unfortunately, not all surgeries work as they should. Back surgery failure may result in you not feeling any better or in some cases, feeling worse and requiring yet another surgery.

In a report published in the Spine journal, researchers delved into the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database to review the records of 1, 450 works who had been diagnosed with disc degeneration, herniated discs or radiculopathy.

According to the research, half of the patients underwent a spinal fusion. After two years, only 26% of those who underwent surgery returned to work. Furthermore, there was a 41% increase in the use of painkillers among those who had surgery.

When a procedure fails to correct the issue, the patient may develop was is known as failed back surgery syndrome. Though not necessarily a syndrome, it is a term used to describe the condition and pain patients whose back surgery was not successful. Many patients experience the same symptoms they had before. However, others may experience back spasms, numbness, sharp, stabbing pain and even mental health issues.

Why You Should See a Chiropractor First

Our chiropractors are experienced in musculoskeletal conditions and can help you find relief from your pain. Many individuals with back conditions seek out conservative treatment, including chiropractic care, first. For some, the care they receive from a chiropractor, as well as other conservative treatments like over-the-counter non-steroidal medications, can be enough to avoid back surgery until later in the future.

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