There’s Still Hope
Approximately 180,000 back surgeries are performed each year in the United States. For some patients who have not responded to conservative treatment, surgery is often helpful in returning them to normal function. However, for an unfortunate number, back surgery is unsuccessful and leads to progressive pain and disability. Estimates are that as many as 40% of all back surgeries are unsuccessful.
In a study of all the patients who had been admitted to the Johns Hopkins Pain Treatment Program, two-thirds requiring this specialized program for chronic pain had back pain. Of those, the typical patient had had an average of three failed back surgeries. In another study, it was found that back surgery patients had the same number of symptoms and limitations of function four years after surgery as did patients who were not surgically treated.
Because of the high numbers of patients still suffering from back and leg pain after back surgery, the continued search for other treatment exists. Unfortunately, many people believe that once they have had back surgery, they cannot be helped by chiropractic treatment. This, however, is untrue, with chiropractic treatment being an effective way to treat these patients.
Researchers at the Low-Back Pain Clinic at the University of Saskatchewan evaluated the effectiveness of chiropractic manipulation on 283 chronic back pain patients. About 25% had had prior unsuccessful back surgery. These patients responded as well as those who had not had prior surgery. Over 70% were significantly improved with chiropractic treatment.
Those patients who have had unsuccessful back surgery are good candidates for chiropractic treatment. Treatment can be effective for many of these patients, helping them return to a more pain-free and active lifestyle.