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Recent studies indicate that back surgery is third only to tubal ligations and caesarean section. With back pain now affecting approximately 80% of the population in the United States at sometime during their lives. Back pain now accounts for more sick leave and disability than any other medical condition.  Between 1994 and 2006 the numbers of MRI in this country alone have risen 307%.  Between 1990 and 2001 there was a 220% increase in spinal surgery, despite the fact that during the same period there were no changes, clarifications, or improvements in surgeries or new evidence of improvement in effectiveness of spinal surgery.  With this being said, few would argue against the need for surgery to protect the health of a patient when a spinal fracture, tumor or a cancerous lesion is detected.  Conditions where spinal instability seriously restricts a patient or endangers the patient, surgery must be a consideration. Spinal surgery may be indicated when conservative treatment such as Chiropractic adjustments have not been effective in reducing pain or when a patient develops a progressive function limiting neurological symptoms such as leg weakness, bladder or bowel, incontinence. Spinal fusion have been shown to be ineffective in improving the outcomes in those with simple chronic low back pain. Some studies have demonstrated that disc herniations, once thought to be an indication for surgery, is common within the general population and generally asymptomatic (without symptoms),  causing experts to question whether the disc herniation is in fact the cause of the patient's pain. Adding to this question, is the fact that many surgeries to correct disc herniation do not result in the resolution of the pain.   So, the ongoing debate continues, and has drawn much attention in recent years by the American consumer. How does a patient know when surgery is warranted? What are viable options to try before agreeing to surgery? Have you,  the patient obtained a second opinion?

Spinal manipulation or adjustments, perhaps is one of the best studied treatments for low back pain.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently, released a clinical practice guide for the treatment of acute low back problems in adults that recommend chiropractic adjustments as the first line of treatment for low back pain. There is evidence existing that spinal manipulation, as performed by chiropractors, is effective in the treatment of low back pain both acute and chronic. Never allow an untrained person to adjust you.  Only Doctors of Chiropractic and Doctors of Osteopathy are extensively and properly trained in manipulation in their professional colleges. A study by the Rand Corp. found that 94% of all manipulations or adjustments performed in United States are performed by chiropractors. 

Some people may find pain relief through the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).  The problem with using NSAIDS is that the pain is simply covered up, without the benefit of knowing what caused the pain. All drugs are associated with side effects and should be used with caution.  Long-term drug use may lead to other serious problems.  In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 people die each year from stomach problems caused by NSAIDS use.

If you are faced the prospect of spinal surgery, ask your physician the following questions:

  1. What is the evidence that shows that I would benefit from undergoing the surgery you are recommending?
     
  2. Is the evidence based studies on randomized clinical trials on the surgery being recommended?
     
  3. If the surgical procedure is new, how many people has it been used on and what are the success rates and complications?
     
  4. What are the known risk versus the benefits?
     
  5. Will rehabilitation follow surgery and what plans have been made to carry it out?
     
  6. How many times has the surgeon performed the procedure and what are his or her success rate?

And most of all always get a second opinion!

Chiropractic should always be your first line of treatment of the spine. If you're facing the prospect of spinal surgery and not satisfied with the answers to the above questions, contact Dr. Skaggs at 417-624-4242.  At Skaggs Chiropractic Your Recovery is Priority One!.

Disclaimer:  No individual, including those currently under our active care, should use the information and/or resources contained here within to self diagnose or self treat any health related condition(s).  Diagnosis and treatment of all health conditions should only be performed by your doctor of chiropractic or other licensed health care professional.