There’s a reason you’re scheduled for back surgery.
Perhaps you’ve been told surgery is necessary to repair a herniated disc, fuse some troublesome vertebrae together, or some other reason.
But what you may not have been told is how frequently back surgery is recommended… simply because of where you live.
Let’s put it this way, if you live in Idaho Falls, Idaho, you’re 20 TIMES more likely to have spinal fusion surgery than if you live in Bangor, Maine!
No, this huge disparity has nothing to do with how many surgeons populate the area, what equipment is regionally available, or even what type of insurance patients have.
A study published in Spine earlier this year discovered none of those factors, or even how enthusiastic the patient or family practitioner was about having the procedure, made a significant impact on surgical rates.
But it did find one key piece of data highly correlated with the number of back surgeries in any given region: surgeon enthusiasm.
Which makes sense in a macabre kind of way. After all, who always benefits from back surgery, regardless of whether it’s the most effective treatment for a patient’s back pain? With an average bill of $80,000 per complex fusion surgery you can bet it’s the surgeon who always benefits.
But let’s say for the sake of argument financial gain is NOT the biggest reason surgeons in some regions are especially enthusiastic about recommending surgery. That still doesn’t change back surgery’s abysmal failure rate.
In fact, the fastest growing surgical procedure, fusion surgery, also has the worst track record. Reoperation rates have increased by 40% since the early 1990s, while 11% of those who agree to fusion surgery end up permanently disabled within two years as opposed to only 2% of those who refuse a spinal fusion operation. That’s five and a half times the disability rate. Again, who benefits?
Look, back surgery may indeed be the right solution for your back pain. But more than likely, it’s not. At the very least, before agreeing to go under the knife take a good, hard look at ALL of your options.
Remember the old adage coined by the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow: if you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
Perhaps that’s the real reason enthusiastic surgeons are twenty times more likely to recommend back surgery. It’s what they know. But that doesn’t mean it’s your only option.
If you’re looking for a non-surgical alternative for your back pain, I have one for you. Make that 101 alternatives.
You’ll find them all in my new book, 101 Back Pain Relief Tricks. Be sure to take a look before going in for that surgery.
101 Back Pain Relief Tricks
Bederman SS, et al. Who’s in the driver’s seat? The influence of patient and physician enthusiasm on regional variation in degenerative lumbar spinal surgery: a population-based study. Spine. 2011 Mar 15;36(6):481-489.
Chen E, Tong KB, Laouri M. Surgical treatment patterns among Medicare beneficiaries newly diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis. The Spine Journal: official journal of the North American Spine Society. 2010 Jul;10(7):588-94.
Weinstein JN, et al. United States’ trends and regional variations in lumbar spine surgery: 1992-2003. Spine. 2006 Nov 1;31(23):2707-14.
Nguyen TH, et al. Long-term outcomes of lumbar fusion among workers’ compensation subjects: a historical cohort study. Spine. 2011 Feb 15;36(4):320-31.
Written By: Updated: October 5,2011
4 thoughts on “Why Are You REALLY Having Back Surgery?”
I put off and put off,put off,put off any referral to a neurosurgeon. I did it all: acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, epidurals (WITHOUT ANESTHESIA!, and with anesthesia), tried the implanted thing which made me feel like I was having seizures—-I gave in, had surgery, Harrington Rod with SEVEN nice big screws, had same removed two horrid years later(loose screw -HAHA). Now, I have ‘stable multilevel degenerative changes with loss of disc height and spondylolisthesis @ L2-L3. I am in constant pain. I am grateful to have the use of my left leg, but this is about all I got. I am working on my attitude.
I would guess that you haven’t tried everything, because there is the secret, “Everything Matters” and in some cases you have to do Everything all as the same time as one big life long management project for long enough to make a difference. In the the report the “101 Back Pain Tricks” we review, many unknown and rarely use techniques to manage Back Pain that can be used for a life time…
I have used your supplements for my bulging disc years ago and did therapy and read one of your book. Very satisfied with what I learned. I got hit from behind in the car. No damage to the car either. I was at the light. My car moved up a little from the impact. They took off. It was at night. No back pain. I had also been doing yard work a month later. Leg pain and butt pain developed 2 months later. Sciatica down both legs and butt for e months. It was hard to stand or walk long. The pain would increase. Eventually I found someone who listened months later. I was doing therapy prior to going away from my hospital. I realized it was lumbar stenosis. Wasn’t improving much and it wasn’t a way to be. I wasn’t functioning the same. Debilitating symptoms that would not go away. I chose surgery. My spine was narrowing and pressing on my nerves which caused my symptoms from L3-L3 and a herniated disc. Much better. No hardware; no spinal fusion. Laminectomy and discetomy. I can stand and walk. I’m recovering one week it’s been. I would like to say, I like your supplements. I used for lower back pain in the past. I’m still experiencing shoulder pain in both shoulders and don’t like getting injections. So I am hoping after getting my therapy and core work in weeks and months to come, I will be using the supplement for my shoulder pain. I will work with that. I’m not sure I would want that. It may be worst than back surgery 😊 recovering is so long, but medicine has come a long way. One shoulder is bone to bone and arthritis. I do like natural products over drugs with their side effects.
Lisa, As with any condition at any state, it will require you to address the issues from many different angels and techniques and different products. It is the way, the only way, never is there a silver bullet to cure all, therapy and supplements are a good first step, be consistent and persistent with them and in time you will find results and in time you will need to look to add new protocols and expand on the progress you make, it is a life long management issue. Thanks Steve HBI-Staff