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Back Surgery Results Quite Discouraging

According to an account in the April, 8, 2002 publication of the New Yorker online magazine "Fact", the results of back surgeries done through the years have been a lot less than expected. The content starts by wanting to know, "Is surgery the best approach to chronic lower back pain?" It then procedes to state, "Last year, approximately one hundred fifty thousand lower-lumbar spinal fusions were performed in the United States."

When inquired about the possibilities for achievement with spinal surgery, Dr. Eugene Carragee, at Stanford, who says he performs the operation only on a select number of patients who had been carefully screened, estimates that less than a quarter of the operations will likely be completely successful. For most patients, the surgery doesn't have a dramatic influence on either their pain or their mobility. He concludes, how the patient's prospects for a future that's free of back pain is rather poor.

The New Yorker article also states that lots of patients who may have had surgery wind up returning to their surgeons. Within a study inside the state of Washington of workers injured at work who received fusions forChiropractic first, surgery last degenerative-disk disease, the outcomes indicated that twenty-two percent had further surgery. The content also reported that Dr. Seth Waldman, at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, statements to regularly see spinal-fusion patients who experience persistent pain after multiple operations. Sadly, few patients facing spinal surgery appear to have any concept that the data are so unfavorable.

In the December 2001 issue, the journal "Spine" published final results of an award-winning study from Scandinavia in which patients who underwent fusion surgery for chronic lower-back pain were in contrast to people who had had no surgery. In this randomized controlled trial, just one out of every six of the patients in the surgical group was rated by an unbiased observer as owning an "excellent" result after a couple of years. Additionally, Dr. Richard Deyo, an internist as well as an expert on back pain at the University of Washington, recently published a statistical analysis of existing research which suggested that spinal fusion generally lacked scientific rationale, and that it had a significantly higher rate of complication than did discectomy.

In summary, the content quotes Dr. Seth Waldman, who sees the effects of failed fusions at the Hospital for Special Surgery each week. Dr. Waldman wishes that the medical profession might be persuaded to exhibit just a little restraint. He concludes the article by saying. "If you have a screwdriver, everything looks like a screw. There will be a lot of people doing the wrong thing for back pain for a long time, until we finally figure it out. I just hope that we don't hurt too many people in the process."

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