Alternatives to Back Surgery
Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010. Some healthcare providers might recommend surgery as the most certain way of alleviating pain and getting you back on your feet, but recent studies have shown that a combination of conservative care treatments cost less and provide greater patient satisfaction than typical medical treatments. Ongoing back pain can be caused by a variety of circumstances or factors, including re-injuring the knee you sprained 25 years ago, being in a car accident, congenital conditions like scoliosis, or even just sitting at a desk with poor posture five days a week can all lead to the need for significant treatment.
Conservative Care vs. Surgery
Many conditions that at first glance may seem to be surgical cases may be effectively treated via conservative care measures. This can be anything from anti-inflammatories, ice and heat compresses, chiropractic care, physical therapy, stretching and exercise, or a combination of some of the above. Strengthening your core and practicing good posture can have compounding positive effects on spinal health and may prevent conditions like sciatica. Avoiding a four to eight week recovery period is another benefit to preventive practices and conservative care. With back surgery, it is common for patients to take a month or more off work; not a good option for someone in the midst of a busy season at work or someone who needs to be active for the sake of their family or business.
Common Conditions Requiring Surgery
Herniated discs, sciatica, and osteoporosis all have the potential to cause significant damage that requires surgery. However, many of these may be treated or prevented by using conservative chiropractic care, saving you time and money while correcting the cause of your symptoms.
Avoiding Surgery for Herniated Discs
For someone suffering from a disc condition caused by simple wear and tear or a traumatic injury, spinal manipulation may be able to provide a safe and effective alternative to injections or surgery. Conservative care may produce high rates of improvement for many patients suffering from the pain associated with this condition. This regimen may include adequate rest, ice packs (or moist heat) applied to the area, anti-inflammatories, and chiropractic care or physical therapy.
Alternatives to Surgery for Sciatica
Sciatica symptoms occupy a wide range on the pain spectrum, from a bad cramp to excruciating pain that makes every position uncomfortable. This condition is sometimes caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve – often one or several branches of this nerve. A herniated disc, tight muscles in your lower back or buttocks, or spinal stenosis might also cause sciatica, according to the Cleveland Clinic. While injections or surgery can be recommended for this condition, chiropractic care may be able to relieve pressure or irritation to a nerve, “un-pinching” it; easing pressure on a herniated disc, allowing it to heal-addressing the root cause of your sciatica.
Alternative Treatments for Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is caused by narrowing of the spinal canal and can result in numbness and/or pain in the legs, neck, or shoulders. While spinal stenosis is often a result of aging, traumatic injuries can also cause this narrowing and its associated symptoms. Although severe cases may often require surgery, mild or moderate cases can benefit significantly from conservative care and, specifically from chiropractic adjustments. While the adjustments themselves may help relieve pressure and pain and restore joint function, one of our doctors can also work with you to create a wellness plan you can do at home with specific exercises to strengthen key muscles and ligaments. One of our patients who was struggling with back pain due to spinal stenosis had this to say about his experience:
When my back “went out” last August, I experienced the most excruciating pain in my life for at least two weeks straight. I felt paralyzed the first two weeks and could hardly move; I could not sit or stand or lie in bed without pain. At the time, I did not really “believe” in chiropractors, mainly because I was ignorant of how they operate. But I went to Tuck Chiropractic Clinic. [The Doctor] took x-rays (which were also later used by an orthopedic surgeon, who verified what the doctor told me).
I now have the highest regard for [the doctor] and his staff. Not only was the pain reduced substantially almost immediately, but the therapeutic spinal manipulations got me moving again fast. The doctor explained exactly what he was doing. Soon he provided exercises to strengthen the muscles of my lower back, and these I do religiously. The improvement is almost beyond belief.
— Dr. Louis Gallo, Tuck Chiropractic Clinic Patient
While surgery may be appropriate for some patients, others may not be surgical candidates because of other health concerns. For patients who cannot or do not wish to undergo surgery, chiropractic may be a safe alternative that could bring significant relief to symptoms of herniated discs, sciatica, spinal stenosis, or other conditions causing back pain. If you are interested in trying conservative care or getting a second opinion, please visit one of the doctors in our eleven locations. They will work with you to create a plan that fits your schedule and provides the care you need to stay out of the hospital and off the operating table.
If you have any questions about your particular condition and how chiropractic care might offer an alternative to surgery, please contact us.
Copyright: lightwave / 123RF Stock Photo
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