Can Surgery Fix Your Back Problem?

Bottom Line:
Over 90% of us will experience back pain during our life. Thankfully, less than 5% will need surgery. So, why are so many operations being performed? Does surgery even fix a back problem? You may be surprised to learn that an enormous number of back surgeries don’t give patients long-term relief. Overlooking less invasive, conservative care options is often not a good idea and can result in a poor surgical outcome. In the medical world, this is known as “failed back surgery syndrome.”

Why it Matters:
The first part of successfully treating back pain is to identify the source of the pain. MRI’s are a fantastic tool to show areas of your spine that aren’t perfect, but they don’t do a very good job at pinpointing what is causing your pain. If a surgeon has difficulty identifying the source of your pain, the results can be disastrous. Research has discovered fewer than half of all spinal fusions are successful, and many don’t offer significant pain relief.

  • Up to 94% of people will still have back pain after surgery.
  • Nearly 20% of people will need a follow-up operation 10 years after surgery.
  • Failed back surgery syndrome has been found in up to 21% of patients.

Next Steps:
If you have been recommended to have an operation, we encourage you to get a second opinion. You only have one spine, and the healthcare decisions you make today will affect your life for decades to come. The majority of people suffering from back pain can find relief without surgery, and research has continued to show that Chiropractic care is one of the safest and most effective options to help you on the road to relief.

Science Source(s):
(1) Prevalence, characteristics, and burden of failed back surgery syndrome: the influence of various residual symptoms on patient satisfaction and quality of life as assessed by a nationwide Internet survey in Japan. Journal of Pain Research. 2017

by Christopher Freytag, D.C.

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