Surgeons perform thousands of procedures each year in hospitals
all across the country. In many instances, surgery may be
the only option to save one’s life -- but is it always necessary?
reports of the alarming (and increasing) percentage of adverse
events associated with surgical procedures, you may want to
think twice before going under the knife.
Case in point: a study in Spine that compared conservative
care vs. surgery for the treatment of a specific type of spinal
fracture (called a "burst fracture"). Eighty patients with
a diagnosed burst fracture were randomly assigned to one of
two groups. Patients in the nonoperative group wore a back
brace for three months (at all times except when bathing)
and stayed in hospital beds until their pain was "controlled."
After three months, patients were allowed activities of daily
living and light sedentary work. Patients in the operative
group underwent surgery ("posterior fixation") and were evaluated
two years later.
Results showed limited differences between the two groups
in terms of long-term pain relief and improvement of overall
function. The study authors also point out that surgery cost
four times as much as conservative care, and recommend early
activity "to the point of pain tolerance." If you or someone
you know is considering surgery for back pain or other musculoskeletal
problems, investigate the value of nonsurgical, conservative
care by scheduling a consultation with your local doctor of
Shen W, Liu T, Shen Y. Nonoperative treatment versus posterior
fixation for thoracolumbar junction burst fractures without
neurologic deficit. Spine 2001: Vol. 26, No. 9, pp1038-45.
For additional information on back pain, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/backpain.html.