In our Arlington practice, we see a large number of patients who are suffering from back pain, and some of these folks have been informed they might need surgery to recover. Thankfully, Dr. Ernst has helped many people get pain relief without the need for any type of surgical treatment. The science agrees with the results we see in our office. One medical study published in the medical journal Spine found that consulting with a chiropractor as your first step in overcoming with your back problems may actually keep you out of the operating room.
In this scientific study, medical researchers from Dartmouth reviewed statistics from 1,885 workers from Washington state who first saw either a surgeon or a chiropractic doctor for their low back issues. They then used three years' worth of follow-up medical records to ascertain whether the individuals ended up having back surgery in an effort to correct the problem.
What the authors determined was that about 43% of the people who first saw a surgeon for their back issues ended up in surgery in that 3-year time frame, whereas only 1.5% of those who first consulted with a chiropractor had the same fate. The authors wrote:
"Even after controlling for injury severity and other measures, workers with an initial visit for the injury to a surgeon had almost nine times the odds of receiving lumbar spine surgery compared to those seeing primary care providers, whereas workers whose first visit was to a chiropractor had significantly lower odds of surgery."
These are remarkable outcomes. Consulting with a chiropractor considerably decreases your odds of getting back surgery, plus the chiropractic patients in this report "had lower odds of chronic work disability" and they also had fewer expensive MRI tests.
Let's also keep in mind this important detail: this study was performed by orthopedic surgeons from Dartmouth College, and published in the world's most distinguished medical publication on spinal injury.
Surgery: The Last Resort
Any surgery has risks, but a serious downside associated with spine surgery is that there's a very high rate of failure. In an important analysis in the European Spine Journal, researchers wrote:
"Failed back surgery is a problem that has become sufficiently widespread to even warrant its own special conferences, with recent reviews reporting failure rates ranging from 5 to 50%."
The experts in this same study concluded:
"It is extremely difficult to identify unequivocal predictor factors that can be used to accurately predict the outcome of surgery."
As a chiropractor, Dr. Ernst is convinced that surgery should be the absolute last resort for treating back pain. Chiropractic works to restore your spine to its normal function--without the need of risky surgery or drugs--and many studies have confirmed the usefulness of chiropractic for back pain.
If you live in Arlington and you need care for your back pain, give our practice a call today at (360) 659-8464 for a consultation or an appointment. We'll help get you back on the road to a pain-free life!