Back Surgery Success Rates (A Data Driven Analysis)
Chronic Back Pain
Back pain effects some 80 percent of adults in the United States. While poor body mechanics and misaligned vertebrae are most often the causes, there are other significant factors that impact spinal health.
The spine is comprised of bony structures called vertebrae, connective tissue in the form of ligaments and tendons, and intervertebral pads known as discs. The 31 sets of nerves connected to the spine correspond to both autonomic as well as voluntary functions, essentially controlling our heart rate in much the same way as willful arm and leg movements. The spine is a protective organ but also needs much in the way of protection.
The spine is susceptible to injuries that can be brought on by getting up too quickly, twisting or bending without appropriate abdominal or leg support, as a natural result of nerve compression in pregnancy, or as the result of a degenerative condition. Genetic predispositions to diagnoses such as scoliosis or spinal stenosis are a vital part of this conversation, too. With risk factors that include one’s biology, as well as overall health, weight, and access to medical care, it is no wonder that so many people are so greatly affected by back pain.
There are, mercifully, a number of ways to control or alleviate back pain. After proper consultation with your doctor, a prescription for anti- inflammatory medication or a muscle relaxant may be provided. Depending on the nature of your condition, your medical provider may encourage you to lose weight, so as to alleviate the pressure placed on the spine, engage in stretching and strengthening exercises, or in the worst case scenario, a surgical intervention.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
Your doctor may recommend back surgery if all other, more conservative treatments have been ineffective or mildly effective at best. While most physicians do not use surgery as a first tier treatment, there are times when it is warranted. Despite that however, back surgeries are not all that effective. Whether caused by poor preoperative care, mistakes in surgery, or errors in post- operative care, rates of failed surgeries have stayed the same or increased despite advances in surgical procedures and expertise.
There is a name for this phenomenon, due in part to its prevalence amongst patients with back pain. Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, or FBSS, refers to the ongoing pain that results from unsuccessful surgeries performed on the lower back. Patients with this condition often experience persistent pain, may need behavior modification to potentiate the benefits of surgery, or may sadly never experience long lasting pain relief.
There are a host of reasons as to why back improvements may seem to be nothing more than a pipe dream. One contributing factor includes the effects of repeated surgeries, often in the hopes of repairing damage caused by previous, unsuccessful ones. Poor post- op follow up, excess weight, a diagnosis of depression, comorbid physical and mental diagnoses, and muscle atrophy due to the very pain that brought you to the doctor in the first place, are just some of the reasons why back surgeries fail. Additionally, the emergence of scar tissue around the affected nerves can bring on an avalanche of pain and a sense of despair and failure.
Preventing and Managing Back Pain Non- Surgically
The best way to prevent recurring surgical back pain, is not to have surgery! This rather pithy advice may be too little too late for some however, most of whom have already gone under the knife.
In order to realistically prevent back pain and surgery, it is wise that you maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, stretch affected areas, rest as needed, and monitor your overall emotional and psychological issues. Applying heat to problem areas and getting regular massages are highly therapeutic, both as pre- and post- care, as well.
It is also important to monitor not only the quantities you eat, but the quality of the food you eat, too. If you overindulge in sweets, alcohol, or mind altering drugs, you can permanently affect your nervous system and cause dangerous and irreparable damage. It is vital as well that you take anti inflammatories or other pain reliever as prescribed.
Though surgery may become necessary at some point in time, the goal is always to avoid it when possible. If that proves not to be a realistic option, it is highly encouraged that you choose a doctor with expertise in the procedure you need, as well as someone who understands your physical pain and what lead to it. While no one can guarantee that you will never have pain, these methods certainly bring you closer to a guarantee.
Body Systems Wellness Can Help You Achieve a Strong, Healthy Back
Dr. Shahen Kurestian, DC can help you achieve maximum back strength and maintain a largely pain- free life. Pain can have a pronounced effect on one’s quality of life and welfare, and making overall health and well being a public necessity. Dr. Kurestian’s Body Systems Wellness team located in Glendale, California, maintains some of the highest standards and codes of conduct in his field, based on his dedication to his patients and convictions to medical and palliative care.