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.


Low-back Pain Can Cause Time Loss


Time is loss or disability from work is an immense problem in terms of human suffering and economic impact. Few health problems are more costly in these two areas than that of low back pain. The only disorder to cause more time lost from work than low back pain is the common cold. Most people would guess that heart disease is the leading cause of chronic incapacity and disability from work in adults. However, in adults under the age of 45, low back pain is the leading cause.

The economic impact of low back pain is staggering. The annual cost of treating low back pain is about 6 billion dollars. The total cost of the disorder is estimated at 20 billion dollars per year figuring the cost of the 93 million lost workdays every year. Work injuries to the lower back are two and a half times more common than the next most frequent type of work-related injury. If there is a condition for which effective treatment has a major potential to impact the American working population, it is low back pain.

Perhaps the most impressive results in treating work disability from chronic low back pain were obtained in a research study at the Low-Back Pain Clinic at the University Hospital at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. Medical and chiropractic researchers jointly studied 283 patients chronically disabled from work by low back pain. The group had been disabled from work an average of 7 years before entering the study and had extensive unsuccessful medical treatment. All patients received chiropractic manipulation at the clinic as the primary object of the study. Following chiropractic treatment, 71% of these patients recovered sufficiently to return to work. These were impressive results when compared to other forms of treatment. Dr. J.R. Gilbert, Professor of Family Medicine at McMaster University in Canada, states that after being present for more than one year, low back disorders have less than a 15% chance of being resolved.

The best treatment to prevent acute pain is from becoming chronic and ongoing is chiropractic. However, if back pain and disability have become chronic and ongoing, chiropractic is still the best bet!

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