Spinal surgery is a broad category of procedures which are most often delivered to treat debilitating spinal pain, herniated disks and/or pinched nerves. Historically, spinal surgeries have been highly invasive, costly (approx. $50,000) and yielded less than optimal results. Such techniques include fusion (with plates and screws or bone), removal of portions of a spinal bone (laminectomy), and removal of all or part of a spinal disk (either surgically or with a chemical agent). A syndrome titled “failed low back surgery syndrome” is well acknowledged in scientific literature and it is said 40% of lumbar spinal surgery recipients fail to obtain long-term relief of symptoms. Successful outcome defined as patient satisfaction and sustained relief of at least 50% of pain for 2 years was recorded in only 34% of patients. Some newer surgical techniques (laparoscopy, intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty, etc) are far less costly and far less invasive, and are having similar results in pain reduction for patients. The problem inherent in spinal surgery is that it does not address the underlying dysfunction (such as subluxation) which caused the problem to begin with.
Chiropractic and Spinal Surgery
In its clinical practice guidelines, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHPCR) recommends treating the pain of most acute low back problems with spinal manipulation. It is best to begin with conservative approaches and to progress to more invasive approaches only as necessary. Scientists surveyed 100 individuals with low back pain who underwent chiropractic care. Overall, patients experienced a 50% reduction in low back and leg pain within 16 days. Chiropractors are experts with difficult cases due to the specificity and safety of the adjustment they deliver. For those who have had spinal surgery without success, chiropractic has shown to have good results. 4% of patients presenting to a chiropractor have had one or more spinal surgeries. Several examples in the literature show positive results with chiropractic and patients with failed spinal surgeries.
Winterstein JF, Chiropractic care of a patient with vertebral subluxations and unsuccessful surgery of the cervical spine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002 May; 25(4):283.
Alcantara J, Plaugher g, Thornton RE, Salem C, Chiropractic care of a patient with vertebral subluxations and unsuccessful surgery of the cervical spine. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2001 Sep;24(7):477-82.
Aspegren DD, Burt AL, A study of postspinal surgery cases in chiropractic offices. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1994 Jun; 17(5):310-3.