Failed Back Surgery

Patients who had spinal fusion surgery were less likely to return to work and needed more opiates, study says

Three Level Fusion

Three Level Fusion

Recently a report published by NBC News highlighted the issue of failed back surgery.  Experts estimate that nearly 600,000 Americans opt for back operations each year.  For many of these Americans their back surgeries have a negative outcome.  A recent study in the journal “Spine” shows that in many cases surgery can backfire, leaving patients in more pain.  These researchers reviewed the records from 1,450 patients in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database who had diagnoses of disc degeneration, disc herniation or  tingling and weakness of the arms or legs. Half of the patients had surgery to fuse two or more vertebrae in hopes of curing low back pain.  The other half had no surgery even though they had similar conditions.  The researchers found that two years after treatment only 26% of those who had surgery returned to work.  Two years after treatment 67% of those who did not have surgery had returned to work. The researchers noted that there was a 41% increase in painkiller use, especially opiates, with those who had surgery.The lead author of the this study reported that the studies on fusion surgeries show the procedures don’t  alleviate pain from degenerative discs very effectively.

The take away message from this study is to exhaust all options before back surgery.  Many of the patients that we see who have had spine fusions in the past either continue to have back pain immediately afterwards or they develop new back pain years later.  Some of these patients did not try chiropractic before their surgeries.  While we believe that surgery is not usually the best first course of care it might be necessary in some cases.  We routinely consult with specialists in the field of pain management and spine surgery when we see patients with complicated conditions.  Fortunately the majority of patients we have sent to these specialists have not needed surgery and recover from their symptoms with continued care in our office.

At Staker Family Chiropractic we offer a wide variety of treatment and therapy options based on your specific need using some of the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment procedures in spine care today.  In the over 40 years that Dr. Staker has been in practice he has been fortunate enough to play a role in the recovery of scores of people suffering from all kinds of back pain.

If you know someone considering back surgery who has not tried chiropractic, share this post with them.


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Posted in Back Pain

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