Half of these back pain patients had surgery to fuse two or more vertebra. The other half had no surgery even though they had comparable diagnoses. After two years, just 26% of the surgery group returned to work. 67% of the non-operative group returned to work. There was a 41% increase in addictive pain medication for those who had surgery!
Despite these poor outcomes, fusion surgery is on the rise. In July, another study in Spine reported that fusion surgery has increased 800% in the past 15 years. Some areas in the USA are 300 to 400% higher than the national average.
Dr. William Welch, vice chair of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and chief of neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital commented, “Even when the surgery is a success, it rarely dispels 100% of back pain.”
Dr. Doris K. Cope, professor and vice chair for pain medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says, “the best results come about through a combination of approaches. Each strategy may reduce pain by just 10 or 20%, but those percentages can add up so ultimately the patient’s pain is cut back by as much as 70 to 80%.”
Doctors’ Choice Physical Medicine and Rehab has a combination approach that includes manipulation, physical therapy, massage, therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular reeducation (balance and stability training) and nutrition. We refer out or work with the patient’s family doctor or specialist for medication and epidural, if necessary.
The MSNBC article can be found here:
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