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