Every day I talk to people who are severe pain. One of the most common causes is related to injuries to the spinal discs (including bulges and herniations) and degenerative spinal disease (also known as degenerated discs or DJD, degenerative joint disease). These conditions are very common and can result not only in severe pain, but also loss of many of the activities of daily living. People simply can’t function with the pain.
While there are many ways to treat back and neck pain and associated nerve pain (like sciatica) there has been a frightening trend to increased number of back surgeries in the United States. While there are effective, inexpensive and safe ways to both treat these problems symptomatically (like chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture) and correct and fix the cause (non-surgical spinal decompression treatment in Sacramento), the traditional medical approach has always been drugs first. Now with the ongoing “Opioid Epidemic”, more and more people are ending up with one of the most dangerous and least effective ways to deal with these serious problems., surgery.
Research suggests that of the 500,000+ disc surgeries that are performed annually in the US, as many as 90 percent are unnecessary and ineffective! Richard Deyo, MD, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University, notes, “It seems implausible that the number of patients with the most complex spinal pathology [has] increased 15-fold in just six years” and mentions one strong motivation includes “financial incentives involving both surgeons and hospitals.”
A study conducted by Dr’s Deyo and Cherkin compared international rates of back surgeries and discovered that the rate of American surgery is unusually excessive and directly attributed to the supply of spine surgeons: “The rate of back surgery in the United States was at least 40 percent higher than any other country and was more than five times those in England and Scotland. Back surgery rates increased almost linearly with the per-capita supply of orthopedic and neurosurgeons.”
On the Top 10 list of diseases in America, “back pain” stands at number 8, which according to Forbes.com, costs over $40 billion annually for treatment costs alone. Other estimates that include disability, work loss and total indirect costs range between $100 and $200 billion per year. Back pain sent over 3 million people to emergency rooms in 2008 at a cost of $9.5 billion, making it the ninth most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals. While these numbers are overwhelming, more important is the cost to each individual in time, money and the ability to regain lost function and lifestyle.
What accounts for these staggering costs? We know one thing: Doctors and hospitals are making huge profits off the backs (no pun intended) of unsuspecting patients who are not told there may be better and cheaper ways to solve their back pain with Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression and chiropractic care. Back surgeries are among the most expensive and least effective treatments available.
While I know and understand that some of you reading this article have had “successful” spinal surgeries, and that some of these surgeries actually save people’s lives, these are not the procedures I’m talking about. I’m speaking the other 90% (according to the study mentioned above).
Over the next few blogs, I’m going to be asking the simple question, “Why are cheaper, safer, and more effective methods of dealing with back pain, sciatic pain, and disc pain syndromes ignored by main stream medicine and insurance companies?” The answers will frighten you, annoy you, and anger you. The short answer, like with most things, is money.