Spinal Fusion: 1 of the 4 Surgeries AARP Says to Avoid

back surgery spinal fusionEveryone understands that surgery involves risk and the importance of weighing those risks before electing to undergo any type of procedure. A recent article in AARP The Magazine outlines the reasons to avoid four different types of surgeries including surgery for back pain.     

The AARP article states:

“With spinal fusion, the surgeon places bone grafts that “weld” two or more vertebrae together to prevent motion and stop pain. The procedure is often used to treat back pain from spinal stenosis, which occurs when the soft tissues between the vertebrae flatten out, creating pressure on the spinal cord or nerves that go to the back, arms, neck, shoulders, and legs. There is little consensus on how best to relieve pain from stenosis, so doctors tend to develop their own preferences, says Richard Deyo, M.D., professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. Their top treatment choice increasingly seems to be fusion. Deyo recently studied the records of more than 30,000 Medicare patients who underwent surgery for stenosis of the lower back and found that complex fusion procedures (in which surgeons place bone grafts between multiple vertebrae) had increased an astounding 1,400 percent between 2002 and 2007.

The risks are significant: Those who underwent complex fusion were nearly three times more likely to suffer life-threatening complications than those who underwent less invasive surgery. Previous studies have also found that most fusion patients experience no more relief from their chronic back pain than those who had physical and behavioral therapy. “There is even some evidence that [complex fusion surgery] is worse than other surgeries,” says Floyd J. Fowler Jr., Ph.D., senior scientific advisor for the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (FIMDM). “The vertebrae right above and below the fusion have to do a lot more bending, and it puts stress on your back above and below.

“Probably less than 5 percent of all back pain requires surgery,” says Arnold Weil, M.D., clinical assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.”

Alternative to Back Surgery

Chiropractic care offers a safe and proven alternative to different types of back surgeries such as spinal fusion and should be the primary form of care sought for back pain. Over the last 20 years, Baker Chiropractic and Wellness has been helping patients of all ages effectively escape back pain without using prescription medications or surgery.

To learn more about low-risk solutions for back pain that do not involve the high risks and expense associated with surgery, please contact Baker Chiropractic and Wellness at (513) 561-2273 or send a message from the website at www.bakerchiropractic.org.

 

 

To read the full article from AARP, The Magazine on 4 Surgeries to Avoid, please visit the following link:

http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-05-2011/4-surgeries-to-avoid.1.html

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