This is important for you and those you care about.
For those of you who are already fans of Upright Health on Facebook, you may have already seen the original article about what I’m about to talk about (to become a fan and be updated with the latest articles that affect your health go to http://facebook.com/uprighthealth). A recent review in the U.S. on the efficacy of back surgery has revealed some not-so-shocking news. Back surgery doesn’t work well.
According to a study published in the journal Spine, back surgeries have a very low success rate in removing pain and often even make pain worse. Even when surgery does help reduce pain, it very rarely removes 100% of it.
Part of the problem is that current medical technology cannot pinpoint the actual cause of the pain. X-rays and MRIs are often extremely misleading. (This was also covered in a previous blog post in January of 2009).
According to Dr. William Welch, chief of neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, abnormalities, such as degenerating discs, can be seen on scans for virtually everyone over the age of 30 regardless of whether they have pain. This fact provides strong evidence that discs are not the ultimate source of back pain (though some would have you believe they are the end-all, be-all of pain).
Why is it important that you know this? Because there has been a disturbing trend in the last 15 years. You and some of your loved ones may have become part of the statistic or may soon become part of it: the number of spinal fusion surgeries performed annually is rising dramatically. Complex vertebral fusion surgeries have gone up 1500% in the last five years according to medicare records, and it looks like it’s happening as a result of heavy (and sometimes questionable) marketing by spine surgery product manufacturers.
If you or someone you know has been told that surgery is the best option for beating your back pain, take the advice of Dr. Charles Burton, medical director for the Center for Restorative Spine Surgery in St. Paul, Minnesota: get a second opinion.
If you’ve got a second or third opinion on this topic, please feel free to leave your comments below!