Finally, Scatena made an appointment with another
surgeon, one whom friends had called a “miracle
worker.” The new doctor assured her that this second
operation would fix everything, and in the pain-free
weeks following an operation to fuse two of her
vertebrae it seemed that he was right. But then the
pain came roaring back.
Experts estimate that nearly 600,000 Americans
opt for back operations each year. But for many like
Scatena, surgery is just an empty promise, say pain
management experts and some surgeons.
A new study in the journal Spine shows that in
many cases surgery can even backfire, leaving
patients in more pain.
Researchers reviewed records from 1,450 patients
in the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database
who had diagnoses of disc degeneration, disc
herniation or radiculopathy, a nerve condition that
causes tingling and weakness of the limbs. Half of
the patients had surgery to fuse two or more
vertebrae in hopes of curing low back pain. The
other half had no surgery, even though they had
After two years, just 26 percent of those who had
surgery returned to work. That’s compared to 67
percent of patients who didn’t have surgery. In what
might be the most troubling study finding,
researchers determined that there was a 41 percent
increase in the use of painkillers, specifically
opiates, in those who had surgery.
The study provides clear evidence that for many
patients, fusion surgeries designed to alleviate
pain from degenerating discs don’t work, says the
study’s lead author Dr. Trang Nguyen, a researcher
at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Unfortunately, for most patients with bad backs, there is
no easy solution, no magic bullet. Pain management experts —
and some surgeons — say that patients need to scale back
their expectations. With the right treatments, pain can be
eased, but a complete cure is unlikely.
In the wake of her operations, Scatena has turned to less
invasive therapies. She’s learned to baby her back and to
find ways to avoid irritating the nerves in her spine. She’s
working to strengthen muscles in her lower back and abdomen
so her spine will get better support. “I’ve been getting
some relief from physical therapy,” she says. “And I hope
that’s going to be permanent.”
27 million adults with back problems
A recent report by the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality, a federal organization, found that in
2007, 27 million adults reported back problems with $30.3
billion spent on treatments to ease the pain. While some of
that money is spent on physical therapy, pain management,
chiropractor visits, and other non invasive therapies, a big
chunk pays for spine surgery.
Complicated spine surgeries that involve fusing two or
more vertebrae are on the rise. In just 15 years, there was
an eight-fold jump in this type of operation, according to a
study published in Spine in July. That has some surgeons and
public health experts concerned.
For some patients, there is a legitimate need for spine
surgery and fusion, says Dr. Charles Burton, medical
director for The Center for Restorative Spine Surgery in St.
Paul, Minn. “But the concern is that it’s gotten way beyond
what is reasonable or necessary. There are some areas of the
country where the rate of spine surgery is three or four
times the national average.”
Majority of back surgery
can be avoided if you consider
Back pain can be autoimmune including disc inflammation please
read the e-book for details.
More back surgery is done in the United States then any
other Country in the World. In a study of Medicare claims
the highest number of back surgeries were done in Pueblo
Colorado ( 1980-1996). Patient's had multiple back surgeries
sometimes upto eight procedures in a single patient.
it was concluded that the rate of surgeries in a particular
region had to do more with the number of orthopedic surgeon, rather
then the pathology in the spine.
Continue to back pain
surgery in Utah