Spinal Surgery… Is it worth the cost, pain, and suffering?!

Spinal surgery is becoming more common in the past 10 years from 1998-2008 in the US according to research found in Spine Journal. Also, Between 1998 and 2008, the annual number of spinal fusion increased 2.4-fold from 174,223 to 413,171 in this article. Individuals get back surgery everyday for various reasons, including disc herniations, stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), and fractures. However, disc herniations tend to be more common for spinal fusion. According to various publications, the success rate of spinal fusion is relatively high (as high as 60-70%), but also there is a lot of variability in this number (what and where the exact problem is in one’s spine; how many surgeries has the surgeon performed, how significant the injury is once you are being operated on, any complications that develop, etc…) one should note.

The success rate mirrors the possible complications and risks from surgery. These complications include, but are not limited to:

  1. Anesthesia
  2. Infection
  3. Blood loss
  4. Nerve injury
  5. Possible re-operation
  6. Lack of a solid fusion
  7. Continued and/or increased pain

These possible complications make a 2nd surgery a greater risk and increase the costs of both recovery and rehab even larger, not to mention disability from work. According to spine-health.com, the average annual cost for spinal surgeries exceeds $20 billion dollars with almost 650,000 procedures done yearly. This cost affects not only individuals having a longer quality of life, but also impacts others around you and your ability to return to work or to do the activities you once used to do because of the possible residual pain from any complications. Most back pain often does not require surgery (If you or someone you know who has back or neck pain, one should obtain several opinions from both chiropractors, physical therapists, and/or medical doctors to determine the best route for you)! Most people are misinformed or not educated about the risks, dangers, and complications of spinal surgery and if they truly need it.

So, before you go and get back surgery, think about this…. What is your quality of life worth down the road to do what you love and spend all all of this time and money to possibly heal an injury that has lingered/bothered you for years!?! Stay tuned to next month’s blog…

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