Consider one person who goes to the doctor with back pain and is told by a surgeon that most back pain heals, and that the best treatment for back pain is actually not surgery- it’s exercise. Now, consider another person who sees a surgeon and is told that their MRI shows they’ve got the worst back he or she (surgeon) has ever seen. And are told that the only way they won’t be crippled is to have back surgery. Who do you think will be better in the long run? Who is more likely to be in pain 1 year from now? I can tell you from personal experience, and from what research tells us, that the person who’s been led to believe that they cannot heal- will not heal.
Everyone feels pain- but not everyone will stay in pain. Some people who injure themselves go on to recover nicely- and return to living life painfree. Others end up suffering- and limit their lives due to pain that just won’t go away. What’s the difference?
Don’t believe me… here is the headline of an article recently published in the Journal Of Bone And Joint Surgery…
Even the surgeons admit it!
Take, for example, a time when you noticed a bruise but have no idea how it got there. Or the stories of people in extreme conditions who were shot, or impaled- and managed to survive these conditions. Or, what about the man who cut his arm off to escape being trapped between two boulders in the middle of the woods! OR, ever taken a warm shower after being in the sun all day- feels like it’s burning you- but as you know- IT”S NOT… it’s simply hypersensitive receptors on your skin… causing you to think that the warm water is actually very hot.
You see- pain is an experience. It is more than just tissue damage- infact, that has very little to do with it. Consider that being told you have a slipped disc, and being shown pictures of a slipped disc actually make you feel more back pain! Basically, your brain is always attempting to answer the question- “How dangerous is this input?” And, the answer is largely influenced by many factors- including actual tissue damage, stress, what we’re told, x-ray and MRI results, and sleep quality. We now know that someone who has an MRI and knows the results of those tests feels more pain than someone who knows nothing at all!
Watch this video below. It explains the complexity of pain- and answers the question- What is Pain?
So, the takehome… don’t let x-rays and MRI’s disable you. Understand that pain is a complex thing that doesn’t mean your broken- it’s simply your body’s alarm system telling you something isn’t quite right… And sometimes, your alarm system keeps going off even when your tissue is completely healed… making you feel pain when there is actually no damage or problem.
Keep your head up! There’s hope.
Call 484 552 3767 to speak to a specialist physical therapist who can help guide you on the road to recovery.
Did you know that the biggest predictor of whether or not you’ll have lower back surgery is your ZIP CODE? AND people who have an MRI are more likely to have spine surgery. Even more fishy… if the surgeon who recommends the MRI owns the MRI machine, well- the likelihood of spinal surgery increases 34%. – (Lurie, Birkmeyer et al. 2003).
If you live in the Limerick, Royersford, Phoenixville, or Collegeville area… you’re aware that surgery centers (Rothman) are popping up everywhere. And you guessed it… the more surgeons in your area… the more likely you are to have back surgery- NOT COOL… and straight up wrong if you ask me.
With spinal surgery, especially spinal fusions, on the rise… I can’t help but ask myself- What’s going on? Why not PT 1st…
And, I’d be okay with more spine surgery… if research supported that it was the best thing for people with back pain…
Unfortunately, commercials and many surgeons are still recommending fusions despite growing evidence that suggests spinal fusion is NO BETTER THAN conservative treatment (physical therapy).
Spinal fusions were originally performed to help those with severe scoliosis, fractures, and a condition where the spine is unstable (fusing the bones helps make it stable again)… they were not designed to help people with general back pain.
The only true reasons for back surgery are for problems where your nerves are being compromised… losing function- if you notice severe leg weakness or numbness in your leg that is getting worse, or loss of bowel or bladder function. In these cases, back surgery may be used to restore health of the nerve.
Here’s a video I created that chats about when you need back surgery…
I’m consistently amazed by the number of people who have general lower back pain that are recommended to have injections or even surgery as the first step in relieving their back pain or sciatica. Makes no sense.
So why do people continue to get spine surgery and whose fault is it anyway? 3 reasons that I can think of…
1- People think it will be a “quick fix” to their pain.
2- People/society continues to have a “fix me” vs “fix myself” mindset.
3- Healthcare providers not advocating for or educating their patients as they should (lack of time, insurance constraints, MONEY?!)
The takehome? If you’ve got lower back pain- stay active, be informed about your options, and remember- surgeons do surgery!
If you live in the Limerick, Royersford, Phoenixville, Collegeville, Valley Forge, King of Prussia, or Philadelphia area call 484 552 3767 to resolve your back pain naturally.
1. Institute of Report from the Committee on Advancing Pain Research., 2011)
2. Surgical predictors: Lurie JD, Birkmeyer NJ, Weinstein JN. Rates of advanced spinal imaging and spine surgery. Spine. Mar 15 2003;28(6):616-620.
3. Mannion AF, Brox JI, Fairbank JC. Consensus at last! Long-term results of all randomized controlled trials show that fusion is no better than non-operative care in improving pain and disability in chronic low back pain. Spine. 2016;16:588-50