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.”