In our Omaha office, we see plenty of patients who are troubled with back pain, and some of these patients have been informed they might need surgery to recover. Thankfully, Spinal Balance Health Center has helped many people get pain relief without the need for any type of surgical treatment. The science confirms the results we see in our practice. One research study published in the medical journal Spine found that seeing a chiropractor as your first step in dealing with your back issues may actually keep you out of the operating room.
In this study, medical experts from Dartmouth reviewed data from about 1,900 workers from Washington state who first saw either a surgeon or a chiropractic doctor for their low back issues. They then used three years’ worth of follow-up medical data to determine whether the subjects ended up having back surgery in an effort to correct the problem.
What the authors discovered was that about 43% of the people who first consulted with a surgeon for their back pain ended up in surgery in that 3-year time span, whereas only 1.5% of those who first saw a chiropractor had the same fate. The authors wrote:
“Even after controlling for injury severity and other measures, workers with an initial visit for the injury to a surgeon had almost nine times the odds of receiving lumbar spine surgery compared to those seeing primary care providers, whereas workers whose first visit was to a chiropractor had significantly lower odds of surgery.”
These are impressive results. Visiting a chiropractor drastically reduces your odds of having back surgery, plus the chiropractic patients in this report “had lower odds of chronic work disability” and they also had fewer expensive MRI tests.
Let’s also take into account this important point: this study was performed by orthopedic surgeons from Dartmouth College, and published in the world’s most prestigious medical publication on spinal injury.
The Risks of Surgery
Any surgery has risks, but a serious downside related to spinal surgery is that there’s a very high failure rate. In an important analysis in the European Spine Journal, researchers wrote:
“Failed back surgery is a problem that has become sufficiently widespread to even warrant its own special conferences, with recent reviews reporting failure rates ranging from 5 to 50%.”
The authors of this same study concluded:
“It is extremely difficult to identify unequivocal predictor factors that can be used to accurately predict the outcome of surgery.”
As a chiropractor, Spinal Balance Health Center is convinced that surgery should be the absolute last resort for treating back pain. Chiropractic works to restore your spine to its normal function–without the need of high-risk surgery or drugs–and many scientific studies have confirmed the efficacy of chiropractic for back pain.
If you live in Omaha and you need relief for your back pain, give our practice a call today at (402) 452-3400 for a consultation or an appointment. We’ll help get you back on the road to a pain-free life!
- Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, Wickizer TM, Chan KC, Franklin GM. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington State. Spine 2013;38(11):953-964.
- Mannion AF, Elfering A. Predictors of surgical outcome and their assessment. European Spine Journal 2006;15(Suppl 1):S93-S108.