Do I need surgery? Depends on who you see first.

surgery lower back pain centered chattanooga corey idrogo

Do I need surgery? Depends on who you see first.

Not a study, but in the December 2012 issue of Spine, it highlighted a study looking at lumbar spine surgery and the first provider seen for the injury.  The results were surprising and a good reminder of the importance of physical medicine.  Here are the key findings:

  • Patients under age 35, women, Hispanics and patients whose first provider was and chiropractic physician had reduced odds of lumbar surgery.
  • Approximately 42.7% of patients who saw a surgeon first had surgery.
  • Only 1.5% of patients who saw a chiropractic physician first ended up having surgery .

Of course some conditions necessitate surgery.  My general recommendations for consulting with a physician on back surgery are as follows:

  • Do I have rapid and significant weakness developing in my legs or arms? 
  • Do I have pain traveling down both of my legs or arms?
  • Do I have trouble controlling my bowels or bladder?
  • Does nothing, medication, massage, activity, or even rest, help control or mitigate my pain? If not seek the help of a surgeon.

However, this study seems to illustrate the saying “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

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