A recent research article evaluated the 1450 people who were hurt at work resulting in low back pain. The purpose of the research was to evaluate the participants overall outcome with those who had low back pain and chose to go through spinal fusion surgery vs. those who had low back pain and did not chose to go through surgery. They followed these patients for the next 2 years. A fusion surgery is when 2 or more vertebrae in the spinal column are surgically fused together to prevent motion in the joints with the purpose of decreasing pain. The results of the study show quite a difference overall between what those 2 years were like for the people who had the fusion surgery vs. those who did not. For example, only 26% returned to work, compared to 67% returned to work. The total number of days off work were 1140 vs. 316 days, respectively. There were 17 vs. 11 deaths, respectively and, 27% of the surgical group required re-operations with a 36% complication rate. Also, there was a 41% increase in the use of narcotic medication with 76% continuing the use after surgery.
This study should not be interpreted that all spinal surgeries are bad or that they are not necessary. Surgery is necessary in some instances. This information is being passed along to you because everyone who is faced with the tough decision of having a surgery should have a solid base of facts to consider. It is our goal at Advanced Spine and Sports Care to keep as many patients as we can from not having surgery. We do know that there are times when surgery is the last option but we would like patients to explore all of their options before having to go through such a procedure.