After experiencing lower back pain for weeks, an MRI is ordered and indicates that you have a badly herniated disc. Your next visit consists of your doctor suggesting you will need a spinal fusion. What should you do?
Spinal fusion surgery is performed in the USA and in Australia at rates that doubled from 2000 through 2009. The idea behind a fusion is that by fusing the segments that are problematic, it will solve your problem.
The truth is that there is little evidence to support the rationale for doing this type of surgery, whether the problem is to relieve stenosis, or a herniation and to stabilize degenerated joints.
The latest data regarding spinal fusion suggests that even surgeons cannot agree when they should be performed. Also, the idea of a fusion which reduces overall spinal joint movement is exactly the opposite of what the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested. Their common theme is that back problems are due to motion and the methods they suggested included chiropractic manipulation, exercises, and other methods routinely done by chiropractors which involve the restoration or maintenance of movement.
If a lack of movement is the reason for back pain, why would you want to permanently remove movement from the spine and its articulations which is the conventional wisdom behind spinal fusion surgery? While some people may require back surgery, the newest evidence suggests that most people should avoid methods that require drugs and surgery first. It is also true that many people who have these surgeries will have other segments surrounding the surgery site often develop problems later on resulting in the likelihoods of future surgeries. Spinal fusion surgery is likely to cause future problems for years to come, rather than fix the problem related to a persons spine.
Who you see first will likely determine the cost, the treatment, whether or not you are medicated and how fast you feel better. Perhaps this is why more people than ever are visiting a chiropractor for the relief of back and neck pain. Movement is holistic, so why would you just look at just the area of pain instead of looking at the whole person and how they move and function?
If you are having an extreme amount of pain in your back, there are always reasons that include movement. That movements starts from the ground up.
To get the best and safest results, you should see someone with a holistic point of view who looks at you, not just the pain and avoid having advanced diagnostics until you have been under active care for at least 6-9 visits from a chiropractor over a two week period.
It is understandable that many people who are in severe pain may panic. Your patience will likely pay off since most people who have not had surgery within two years are in the same condition or better than those who had surgery. Also, there are many treatments that can be used while visit your chiropractor, which may include acupuncture that are known for helping you reduce your level of pain naturally.
The non surgical route is less risky, costly, and less debilitating and can help you resolve or improve your problem safely, while avoiding a surgery that can potentially leave you in pain for the rest of your lifetime. Evidence is growing that you should see the least invasive type of healthcare provider first, and preferably avoid drugs.
I found this recent blog that talks about the problem with spinal fusions, the risks and the overall evidence. The good news is, a good chiropractor will look at you walk, move and function and is your best choice for back pain treatment according to Consumer Reports and many other reputable sources.
Spinal fusion surgery for lower back pain: it’s costly and there’s little evidence it’ll work
February 19, 2018
Back pain affects one in four Australians. It’s so common, nearly all of us (about 85%) will have at least one episode at some stage of our lives. It’s one of the most common reasons to visit a GP and the main health condition forcing older Australians to retire prematurely from the workforce.
Treatment costs for back pain in Australia total almost A$5 billion every year. A great proportion of this is spent on spinal surgical procedures. Recently, Choosing Wisely, the campaign to educate medical professionals and the public about tests, treatments and procedures that have little benefit, or lead to harm, added spinal fusion for lower back pain to its list.