I just read an article on surgery for lower back pain (http://www.aolhealth.com/2010/06/08/surgery-for-backpain-often-fails/) published on aol. Since we treat many people for back pain, and handle many of the disasters that were mishandled, I believe a chiropractic point of view needs to be voiced.
When people are in severe pain and are scared and cannot sleep, they are willing to sometimes make decisions that are not in their best interest. Back surgery and injections to the spine to numb the area (done at great cost) are often the medical procedures recommended by surgeons because they are by nature, surgeons. You do not go to an orthopedic or a neurosurgeon to a conservative opinion, even though many are conservative in their recommendations.
The real problem in all this is that in our health care paradigm as it currently exists, we are obsessed with the site of pain being evaluated rather than evaluating the person, their body style and their gait, which are the most common reason for people having lower back pain and sciatica, as well as neck and shoulder problems and even headaches.
More and more primary care providers are sending their patients to chiropractors first. The reason is that their methods are safe, effective, have high levels of patient satisfaction and in most cases, their way of thinking leans toward the cause of pain rather than the symptoms that resulted from a mechanical malfunction.
If you have or had lower back pain and visited a doctor, did they ever look at your feet? Most people will say no which is why they never get relief. Foot problems are the most common source of lower back problems. What likely happened is that you either were sent for an MRI, x rays or some other diagnostic test, referred to a physical therapist or more commonly a chiropractor and they worked on your back with exercises, or any number of regimens.
The problem is that back pain is a gait issue (an issue with the way you walk). If your gait is irregular enough, you will get back pain, may have disc problems and are a likely candidate for sciatica or sacro iliac problems and will not be flexible. If you were unlucky enough to be sent directly to a surgeon because of your level of pain, you may make that rash decision for a surgery that is harmful rather than helpful because if does not correct the way you walk and instead, attempts to put stability in an area that is being torn apart by the way you walk.
In our office, we prevent many people from ever needing back surgery. The few who do are chosen well and generally do much better than they did prior. The secret to successful back surgery is picking the person properly.
Before even considering surgery for a shoulder, back, neck or hip, you are better off seeing someone like me who will look at you, find out why the problem is occuring and resolve the cause, rather than just the symptom of back pain. You are most likely to get better faster, have fewer problems in the future and enjoy a better quality of life. Trying to identify every pain as its own entity is medical wack a mole, with often less than satisfactory results. Chiropractic is a wiser decision. You can always have surgery….