Chiropractic Helps People Avoid Back Surgery

In our Juneau office, we see a lot of people who are struggling with back pain, and some of these people have been told they might need surgery to recover. Fortunately, Dr. Messerschmidt has helped many people get pain relief without the need for any type of surgical procedure. The scientific literature agrees with the success we see in our practice. One medical study published in the journal Spine found that seeing a chiropractor as your first move in overcoming with your back pain may actually keep you off of the operating table.

In this scientific study, medical researchers from Dartmouth reviewed data from about 1,900 workers from the state of Washington who first saw either an orthopedic surgeon or a chiropractor for their low back issues. They then used three years' worth of follow-up medical data to find out whether the subjects wound up having back surgery in an effort to treat the issue.

What the researchers determined was that about 43% of the individuals who first saw a surgeon for their back pain ended up having a surgical procedure in that 3-year time span, whereas only 1.5 percent of those who first consulted with a chiropractor had the same fate. The authors wrote:

"Even after controlling for injury severity and other measures, workers with an initial visit for the injury to a surgeon had almost nine times the odds of receiving lumbar spine surgery compared to those seeing primary care providers, whereas workers whose first visit was to a chiropractor had significantly lower odds of surgery."

These are remarkable results. Visiting a chiropractor dramatically reduces your odds of getting back surgery, plus the chiropractic patients in this report "had lower odds of chronic work disability" and they also had fewer expensive MRI tests.

Let's also take into consideration this important detail: this study was performed by orthopedic surgeons from Dartmouth College, and printed in the world's most distinguished medical journal on spinal injuries.

Surgery: The Last Resort

Any surgery has risks, but a major downside associated with spinal surgery is that there's a very high failure rate. In an important review in the European Spine Journal, researchers wrote:

"Failed back surgery is a problem that has become sufficiently widespread to even warrant its own special conferences, with recent reviews reporting failure rates ranging from 5 to 50%."

The authors of this same study concluded:

"It is extremely difficult to identify unequivocal predictor factors that can be used to accurately predict the outcome of surgery."

As a chiropractor, Dr. Messerschmidt is convinced that surgery should be the absolute last choice for treating back pain. Chiropractic works to restore your spine to its normal function--without risky surgery or drugs--and many research studies have demonstrated the efficacy of chiropractic for back pain.

If you live in Juneau and you need relief for your back pain, give our practice a call today at (907) 789-1344 for a consultation or an appointment. We'll help get you back on the road to a pain-free life!

Studies

  • Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, Wickizer TM, Chan KC, Franklin GM. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington State. Spine 2013;38(11):953-964.
  • Mannion AF, Elfering A. Predictors of surgical outcome and their assessment. European Spine Journal 2006;15(Suppl 1):S93-S108.
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