Surgery vs Chiropractic Care
Surgery is considered a last resort for treating neck and back problems. The risks are significant, the costs are high, and the recovery is long and painful. New research has shown that Chiropractic care should be considered before surgery, and the results may surprise you.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists estimates that 20 to 40% of back surgeries fail. Patients having repeated back surgeries have a much higher chance of failure (e.g., Tiger Woods). One study found only 30% of second back surgeries are successful. With each spine surgery you have, the chance of success drops 50% after the first repeat surgery, 30% after the second, and 15% after the third.
One of the primary reasons why people should avoid back surgery is because of the risk. All surgeries carry the risk of infection, excessive bleeding, and nerve injury, not to mention the risk of being put under general anesthesia and using potentially addictive pills to manage the pain after surgery. So before exploring surgical options, we encourage you to consider Chiropractic care. Chiropractic can help you get well without any risks and dangers associated with drugs, injections, or surgery.
- Most patients who can't find relief from physical therapy or medications have experienced the benefits of Chiropractic care
- Patients may benefit from chiropractic just as much and usually more than if they underwent surgery
- Intelligent healthcare providers have begun to offer chiropractic care before surgical options because of its safety and effectiveness.
Nearly one in 10 people experience lower back pain, causing more disability than any other condition globally. Despite the high number of back surgeries, unfortunately, many people don’t get better after back surgery. Up to 74.6% of low back spine surgeries fail to alleviate back pain, according to a 2016 review in the Journal of Pain Research. The number is so high there's an official medical term for this, failed back surgery syndrome. FBSS, often called for short, refers to chronic back pain following back surgery.
According to another research study, it's estimated that around 80,000 people yearly are suffering due to back surgery failure. Failed back surgery statistics show that 10-40% of FBSS patients are affected. Another alarming stat, most patients who take opioids narcotics for chronic pain before lumbar fusion surgery continue taking them long-term after surgery.
According to Steven Atlas, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, “Based on the evidence, the indications for fusion are few and far between, but that doesn’t stop surgeons from doing them or patients from getting them.”
Back pain is one of the most common physical ailments around. Half of all working Americans report experiencing back pain symptoms each year. But while back pain is prevalent, it's certainly not normal and shouldn't be ignored. If you suffer from back pain, you might need help understanding the options at your disposal or which will provide you with the relief you seek. Some people want to avoid medications at all costs, while others haven't succeeded with methods like physical therapy or epidural injections. In many cases, the choice may come down to either surgical procedures or chiropractic treatment. And while some may dismiss the value of care provided by a doctor of chiropractic, the reality is that chiropractic care is often far more effective.
Usually, conservative treatments are recommended in non-emergency situations. Surgical procedures are typically considered a last resort, as these invasive treatments involve long recovery periods and can be prohibitively expensive. Moreover, back surgery failures are more common than most people think. Back surgery may result in only a 30% reduction of pain, while 20% of people who opt for back surgery will require additional back surgeries to address these ongoing issues.
One study found that 94% of patients who underwent back surgery (after first trying medications and physical therapy) reported low back pain after surgery, while 71.1% reported dull aches and 69.8% reported numbness. In other words, most patients who underwent these surgeries experienced many of the same symptoms as patients with chronic back pain who have not had surgery. In certain situations, surgery is unavoidable, but including help from a doctor of chiropractic as part of the treatment plan may still provide improved results compared to what can be achieved from surgery alone. If you've never received chiropractic care for your back pain, exploring the dynamic between back surgery vs. conservative treatments is vital before opting for surgery.
Neck, mid-back, and low-back pains are common medical ailments that can lead to the consideration of surgery. Every year, 149 million workdays are lost to back pain in the United States, costing billions of dollars in lost wages, sick pay, and short-term disability. Back pain is difficult to live with; everyday tasks like bending, walking, and sitting can be unbearable. Often, medication and rest do not improve the condition. In severe cases, a specialist may advise a costly surgery to attempt to repair the spinal issues. But is it the best solution for pain and recovery, both physically and economically? And how does it compare to the more natural and non-surgical methods of chiropractic care?
Chiropractic vs. Surgery: The Final Cost
No one wants to be out of work, and no one wants to pay anything out of pocket for expensive medical care. But both are almost a certainty if you are in such pain that you need to consider surgery to alleviate it. With the popularity of chiropractic care growing over traditional medical treatment options, more and more evidence is being produced showing the financial benefits of chiropractic care. Consider the following studies:
In a report by Web MD, 1.7 million back pain cases were studied, where 700,000 had chiropractic services covered under their healthcare, and the remaining 1 million did not. Those with chiropractic cut the cost of treating back pain by 28% compared to those who did not have chiropractic care. Back surgeries were reduced by 32%, and hospitalizations by 41%.
AV MED tested whether they could reduce medical costs by having patients receive chiropractic care for low back pain. One hundred patients, 80 of whom had already been treated medically with little to no improvement, had been seen by about two doctors each. Once the chiropractic care was received, none of these patients had to have surgery. Chiropractic intervention saved the patients money and AV MED more than $250,000.
“The Manga Report, from the University of Ottawa, reviewed all the international evidence on the management and low cost of back pain care. Pran Manga, Ph.D., concluded that significant cost savings would occur if the management of low back pain were transferred from physicians to chiropractors. He determined that chiropractic is safer than medical management of low-back pain. "Many medical therapies are of questionable validity or are inadequate. Chiropractic care is greatly superior to medical treatment in terms of scientific validity, safety, cost-effectiveness, and patient satisfaction." Dr. Manga concluded that "chiropractic should be fully insured (and) fully integrated into the Ontario health care system."
These results are typical. Hundreds of reports and papers conclude that, at the very least, surgery and chronic medication should be the last resort after all other avenues, including Chiropractic care, have been explored. And at best, they state that for most cases, a well-executed chiropractic plan not only saves patients and insurance companies money, but it also can have the same desired result of surgery in the full recovery of the patients.
Though every case is unique and should be treated accordingly, it is clear that, at a minimum, patients should explore the chiropractic option before a surgical one is even considered. At worst, surgery will still be required. But, at best, chiropractic care will relieve all symptoms and replace surgery entirely as an option. If you have back pain and seek relief, Dr. Short can help. With his years of experience, he will get you onto the road to recovery, back to feeling normal, and participating in the things you enjoy. Contact him to schedule an appointment.