Spinal Surgery and Prevention

We are living the stage of life where extra care is needed to keep our bodies well maintained and “greased”. Lower back pain is one such area that needs constant awareness and action. 80% cases of musculoskeletal issues are related to lower back pain, a common obs.

The first thing our MDs suggest, to diagnose the pain; an MRI. Good tool. However, an MRI taken of the spine with the patient lying on his/her back is simply INACCURATE. Reason; the patient’s spine doesn’t exhibit bio-mechanical force loading on spinal discs in the lying posture. The accurate method would be, to stand up and get the MRI done.

Most often than not, the doctor would suggest surgery for a variety of procedures, with spinal fusion being the most common, to stabilize the spine and alleviate pain. In my view, surgery should be the last resort, though in some extreme cases, less invasive options just wont work.

Following is a brief list of back surgery risks:

· Reaction to anesthesia/other drugs

· Bleeding

· Infection

· Blood clots, for example in the lungs or legs

· Heart attack

· Stroke

· Recurrent disc herniation

· Nerve damage; may result in weakness, paralysis, pain, sexual dysfunction or loss of bowel/bladder control

If you happen to see your doctor for a complain of back pain, you are 40% likely to have surgery compared to another patient who visits a chiropractor for example. The doc will definitely convince you. After 2 years, a mere 26% of patients who had surgery had actually returned to work. Compare that to 67% who didn have a surgery and DID return to work even though they had the same diagnosis. This translates to a 74% failure rate.

A report by John Hopkins states” surgery for herniated disks isn’t better than long term non-surgical techniques”.

The spinal fusion procedure despite the hype of being THE cure of lower back and cervical pain, is nothing more than a hoax. The details can be read here: Effects of Segmental Lumbar Spinal Fusion on Adjacent Healthy Discs: A Finite Element Study,”

The way forward::::::: Since an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, here are some suggestions to keep your spine healthy:

· Maintain a healthy diet and weight

· Exercise regularly

· Maintain proper posture (no rolling of shoulders forward, no head fwd)

· Avoid being a couch potato/period of inactivity

· Stop smoking

· Use good body mechanics when lifting weight

· Perform spinal twists at least 3 times daily with 5 reps

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