Fortune 500 companies spend over $500 million a year on avoidable back surgeries for their workers who have bulging and herniated disc pain and lose as much as $1.5 billion in indirect costs associated with these procedures in the form of missed work and lost productivity.
So what does this have to do with you? This study is about all back surgeries, not just work related ones. If you are considering have lumbar surgery (alternatives) in Roseville, or anywhere else for that matter, pay attention. This could save your life as you know it.
According to a two-year study by Consumer’s Medical Resource (CMR). The study, “Back Surgery A Costly Fortune ” found that one out of three workers recommended for back surgery said they avoided an unnecessary procedure after being given independent, high-quality medical research on their diagnosed condition and treatment options. In addition, patients who refused surgery and opted for alternative and less invasive procedures to treat their back pain reported experiencing healthier and more personally satisfying outcomes.
Back surgery “has been accused of leaving more tragic human wreckage in its wake than any other operation in history,” per Gordon Waddell, MD, director of an orthopedic surgical clinic for over 20 years in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Lower back pain has been a 20th century health care disaster,” said Waddell. “Medical care certainly has not solved the everyday symptom of low back pain and even may be reinforcing and exacerbating the problem.”
In the earlier mentioned study, they found that after two years, only 26 percent of those who had surgery had returned to work, compared to 67 percent of patients who did not have surgery. Of the lumbar fusion subjects, 36 percent had complications and 27 percent required another operation. Permanent disability rates were 11 percent for patients undergoing surgery, compared to only 2 percent for patients who did not undergo surgery. In what might be the most troubling finding, researchers determined there was a 41 percent increase in the use of painkillers, with 76 percent of surgery patients continuing opioid use after surgery. Seventeen surgical patients died by the end of the study.
If you are considering back surgery, be careful, be hesitant to move forward, do research and ask questions. I know it’s hard to be patient when you are in a lot of pain. But try approaches which are safe, low risk, and have a track record of success before turning to procedures that carry a higher risk of failure or serious side effects.
I see a lot of people who come into my office stating that the pain is a 10 out of 10. They are desperate and they don’t want to do surgery. The vast majority of these people get significantly better with a course of spinal decompression and our associated therapies (see “meet our patients “tab on this website ).
This study provides clear evidence that for many patients, fusion surgeries designed to alleviate pain from degenerating discs do not work. According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Tang Nguyen, a researcher at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. His study concluded: “Lumbar fusion for the diagnoses of disc degeneration, disc herniation, and/or radiculopathy in a workers’ compensation setting is associated with a significant increase in disability, opiate use, prolonged work loss, and poor return-to-work status.”
Commenting on the procedure in general, Dr. Nguyen said, “The outcomes of this procedure for degenerative disc disease and disc herniation make it an unfortunate treatment choice.”
More to come on this subject in the next blog.