Many people struggle with back pain in their lifetime. Sometimes it’s low back pain or could be a twinge on a nerve. What you may not know is that 90 percent of people with back pain usually heal on their own within weeks.
Unfortunately, that’s not what many doctors will tell you. The trend nowadays appears to be prescribing pain medication, performing numerous tests, or even recommending surgery to back pain sufferers. For example, one in three Medicare patients with back pain receives some type of back scan in less than a month. This goes against traditional medical standards which state someone displaying typical back pain shouldn’t get an X-ray or MRI unless they’ve been struggling with the pain for a month or longer, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
Even more shocking is the ever-increasing number of back surgeries in this country. In 2007, over 300,000 decompression operations known as “laminectomies” and “diskectomies” were performed on patients. These surgeries involve cutting away part of a bone or disk to relieve nerve pressure. In addition, there were close to 400,000 spinal fusions which are riskier surgeries that bind vertebrae together with a bone graft and are known to involve metal hardware, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
If a doctor rushes to recommend surgery for your back pain, exercise caution and seek a second opinion. Any surgery is a gamble and doctors are not immune from making serious surgical errors that can lead to horrific injuries, or even death.
One alternative to consider is an exercise routine designed to treat your back pain. There are exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles that support the spine. A study showed that only three out of 38 patients prescribed surgery still needed that surgery within 13 months after completing tailored exercises.
This isn’t to say exercise is your golden ticket to eliminating back pain. You may in fact need surgery to correct a very serious injury. But the key is to make sure you explore all of your options and don’t let a doctor rush you into a procedure that may end up exacerbating your back injury, or worse yet, causing another serious injury.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.