Considering Chronic Back Pain Surgery?


Alternatives to Chronic Back Pain SurgeryIf you’re considering chronic back pain surgery you’ve most certainly stopped to ask yourself, “is surgery the best approach for chronic back pain?

Last year, approximately 150,000 lower-lumbar spinal fusions were performed in the USA.

The operation, which involves removing lumbar disks and mechanically bracing the vertebrae, is of tremendous benefit to patients with fractured spines or spinal cancers.

More frequently, however, it is performed to alleviate chronic lower-back pain.

But how effective is Chronic Back Pain Surgery?

A recent study of CT Scans showed that…

  • 27% of healthy people over the age of 40 had a herniated disk;
  • 10% had an abnormality of the vertebral facet joints, and;
  • 50% had other anatomical changes that were judged significant.

And yet none of these people had nagging back pain!

Another study, using MRI scanning, showed that…

  • 36% of people over 60 had a herniated disk, and;
  • 80-90% of them had significant disk degeneration in the form of narrowing or bulging.

Given that degenerated disks are often found in people who are fully functioning, it shouldn’t be assumed that they are always the cause of the trouble.

If disks aren’t necessarily the source of lower-back pain, where else might the pain come from?

The various muscles, tendons, bones, joints and ligaments of the lower back all contain sensory nerves that can transmit messages of pain through the spinal cord and up to the brain.

So can organs within the abdomen and the pelvis when they become inflamed or diseased.

With so many potential sources of pain, how do doctors arrive at an accurate diagnosis?

A 1994 research study entitled “Who You See Is What You Get” demonstrated that each group of specialists favoured the diagnostic tools of their discipline.


In the end, however, about 80% of patients who suffer from lower-back pain cannot be given a precise diagnosis!


Do you really need chronic back pain surgery?

In 1999, the Physicians Neck and Back Clinic, in Minnesota, conducted a study in which 60 patients whose doctors had recommended back surgery agreed to participate in a ten-week program of strengthening exercises.

46 completed the program; 38 of those were available for follow-up, and only 3 elected to have surgery.

The study concluded that many patients who had been told they needed surgery were able to avoid it in the short term by following an exercise regimen.

Corrective Exercise and Rehabilitation
A recent analysis of 67 patients with long-standing back pain, nearly all of whom had had prior surgery or other forms of treatment, showed that an exercise regimen improved physical capacity and reduced pain.

Between 25-40% of the patients, for whom performing flexion and extension movements was painful when they entered the program, were free from pain by the time they were discharged; the others experienced a marked reduction in the intensity of their pain.

So, before you go under the knife, try taking control of your own health with a controlled exercise program.

Trevor Rutherford - helping you plan before you consider Chronic Back Pain Surgery

Trevor Rutherford
Soft Tissue and Exercise Therapist


Before Chronic Back Pain Surgery…

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NHS Choices: Back Pain Treatment