If you suffer from chronic back pain you’ve probably heard that saying “when your back hurts, your whole body hurts” more times than you can count.
And more than likely you know someone who has had or is thinking about having back surgery. If you’re reading this that someone might even be you. If so, you have a lot of company.
Back pain contributes $128 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B) to medical costs every year. And it’s responsible for 100 million days off work.
If you’ve been suffering with back pain long enough, chances are really good that a doctor has recommended some kind of back surgery. The surgery most commonly performed these days is spinal fusion surgery.
Of course, sometimes there is no alternative.
But, before you go under the knife, there are a few things you should know about spinal fusion.
What is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is a type of surgery that joins or fuses two or more vertebrae in the back. It’s a very serious surgery. The vertebrae are fused using bone from the pelvic bone or from a cadaver. Metal implants are used to hold the vertebrae in place until new bone grows between them to bridge the gap between them.
You will be in the hospital anywhere from 2 to 5 days and your recovery period is going to be about 12 weeks if you don’t experience any complications.
What’s Your Prognosis after Fusion?
Statistically, not the greatest. In fact, you could be much worse off than you would be with a more conservative treatment.
In a study conducted of 1450 people suffering from low back pain, 725 were treated with spinal fusion and 725 followed the more conservative route with physical therapy and exercise.
Check out these numbers for the people with spinal fusion:
- 25% returned to work after 2 years (as compared to 67% of the non-surgical patients)
- 11% were permanently disabled (compared to 2% of the non-surgical group)
- Almost 85% of the spinal fusion patients continued using prescription painkillers (compared to 49% of the non-surgical patients) and the surgical patients increased their use of opioid painkillers by 41%.
- 36 % of the spinal fusion patients suffered complications (meningitis, kidney failure and death)
- 27% had to have another surgery
- The spinal fusion group missed a total of 1140 days vs. 316 days in the non-surgical group
And The Alternative?
This same study found that the best treatment for back pain focused on physical therapy to increase flexibility and strength and an exercise program to improve the overall health of the patient.
Our clinic and specialists adhere to a highly specialized protocol for the treatment of patients suffering from chronic pain. Our treatment protocol includes physical therapy, manual manipulation of the spine and skeletal structures combined with a unique NDGen spinal protocol developed in our clinics. Most often, we’ll instruct you in exercise, massage, diet, and nutrition counseling and other treatments combined specifically for each individual patient.
Most clinicians agree, barring a neurosurgical emergency that you should give your body a chance to heal itself slowly. Completely explore all your options before you let anyone do surgery on your back. Given the right treatment in the hands of a trained specialist, you might be surprised at how much better your back and neuropathy symptoms feel without the risk of complications caused by an invasive back surgery.
And for a lot less than the $80,000 average cost for spinal fusion surgery.
Please call us at 781-659-7989 to schedule an evaluation!