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Should I Have Back Surgery?

By    |   Friday, 27 March 2015 10:35 AM

Question: What’s your take on back surgery? I have a herniated disc and nothing seems to help – painkillers, exercise, massage, chiropractic. What should I do to decide if surgery is the best way to go?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:

Surgery should normally be performed for conditions that are expected to deteriorate or in situations where the spinal cord or its nerves are at risk for further damage and intractable pain is present.

The exception is acute traumatic injury to the spine when emergency stabilization surgery may be mandatory. But otherwise, surgery for chronic back pain should be cautiously approached.
Most herniated discs will resolve on their own over a period of two to three months, as it is the gel of the disc that has usually prolapsed from its envelope. Sometimes the entire disc is dislodged, but even so, it may not justify an invasive approach.

Laser spine surgery is available, if you have not had surgery. But many insurance companies will not cover laser spine procedures in patients who have had previous (failed) surgery of the back.

In general, conservative therapy for chronic back pain — including the methods you list — is usually the best first choice for most patients, unless imminent neurologic deterioration is evident. Be aware that surgery has its own complications, and may not ease pain for some patients.

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Surgery should be a last-resort choice for back pain.
back, surgery, herniated, disc
Friday, 27 March 2015 10:35 AM
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