So, you were just recommended to consider back surgery. What now? Surgery can feel like a heavy word– and for good reason. Even when paired with the most accomplished surgeon, going under the knife carries a host of unknowns and potential complications.
Yet, when your pain feels all-encompassing, anyone would want to find a solution to the problem. Chronic back pain has a way of infiltrating almost every area of life and can taint some of the things you enjoy most— activities with family, exercising, and even quality of sleep— to name a few. Operating with the constant shroud of discomfort would make anyone weary.
While surgery can sound like a strong option, oftentimes it actually does more damage than good. If you’re considering surgery to treat chronic back pain, this article is for you. Today, we answer essential questions like how to evaluate your need for surgery, and what are the treatment options outside of an invasive procedure.
Are You A Candidate For Back Surgery?
When you’re considering surgery, it’s important to understand why the procedure has been recommended in the first place. In particular, strains and sprains in the back often feel extremely debilitating and can become chronic quickly when left untreated. However, these injuries, along with disc herniations and pesky sciatic pain, all tend to respond well to conservative care. Yet, frustration with pain often leads many people with these injuries to jump to surgery without much thought. This is a mistake. If you haven’t given the conservative care route an earnest try with the supervision of a medical professional, this should be your first step– not a surgical procedure.
It’s easy to get sucked into the fallacy that surgery itself will suddenly fix all of your problems, when in fact, even if the surgery does pan out as expected, rehabilitation and strengthening after a procedure is often a long, ongoing process. Read: healing takes time. If the allure of a procedure is to speed up this process, this may not be your reality.
Note: if you are experiencing a fever, tingling or numbness in your arms or legs, or a genuine loss of function, these may be indicators of more serious injuries and should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately.
The Risks of Back Surgery
Though there are certain extreme situations in which back surgery may be the only option– like a serious spinal cord injury– for general chronic discomfort and mobility, there are usually much better, less invasive, and less risky treatment options to try first.
This should come as a relief, as the actual effectiveness of back surgeries is far from guaranteed, even when a procedure is warranted. According to a 2016 review, 74.6% of back surgeries failed to completely relieve pain. Yikes! Further, 13-35% of these initial surgeries also end up requiring revision surgeries. In fact, there’s even an official diagnosis for these unsuccessful back surgeries: failed back surgery syndrome. That’s a lot of time under the knife for uncertain results.
Conservative Treatment, Real Relief
Many people rush into surgery because they feel that it’s the quickest route to relief, when in reality– procedure or not– healing from something that causes such consistent pain is a process that takes patience and diligence. Remember: you can always try conservative treatment first, but you can never “undo” the ramifications of surgery. When in doubt, go the conservative route.
As you look for the best healing plan for your particular case, working directly with a medical professional is a must. They can help you structure a plan that best suits your specific needs, offer guidance on at-home exercises and mobility work, and refer you to appropriate practitioners when necessary. In particular, massage therapy and acupuncture are often incorporated as important parts of both the healing and pain relief processes. Again, keep in mind that real healing takes time. You’ll need to hold yourself accountable for both showing up to regular appointments, but also performing the “homework” that your practitioners assign to see real healing gains.
The Role of Chiropractic Care in Back Health
Chiropractic care, a safe and effective natural treatment option, is especially helpful in managing pain in the spine and back, particularly back sprains, strains, disc herniations, and chronic sciatic pain. This is due in large part to the gentle adjustments that help to realign your body and provide relief to your entire system. It’s not uncommon that these seemingly small misalignments go unnoticed; however, when left untreated, they can contribute to increased pressure, nerve irritability, and overall discomfort that can compound over the years and lead to chronic pain and discomfort. Chiropractic care gets to the root of the problem and treats these misalignments.
Additionally, your practitioner will be able to provide you with any necessary at-home exercises that may help speed up your recovery process.
If you’re considering surgery or are otherwise plagued from back pain, you owe it to yourself to check out alternative treatment options. Schedule an appointment online or call (949) 649-8790.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.