In our Arlington practice, we see plenty of patients who are troubled with back pain, and some of these patients have been advised they might need surgery to recover. Fortunately, Dr. Ernst has helped many people get relief without the need for any type of surgical treatment. The science confirms the results we see in our office. One medical study published in the journal Spine found that consulting with a chiropractor as your first move in overcoming with your back pain may literally keep you off of the operating table.
In this report, medical experts from Dartmouth analyzed statistics from 1,885 workers from Washington state who first saw either an orthopedic surgeon or a chiropractor for their back-related issues. They then used three years' worth of follow-up medical information to determine whether the individuals wound up having back surgery in an attempt to treat the problem.
What the authors discovered was that about 43% of the people who first consulted with a surgeon for their back pain ended up having a surgical procedure in that 3-year time span, whereas only 1.5% of those who first saw 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 impressive findings. Consulting with a chiropractor drastically decreases your odds of getting back surgery, plus the chiropractic patients in this study "had lower odds of chronic work disability" and they also had fewer expensive MRI tests.
Let's also take into account this important detail: this study was conducted by orthopedic surgeons from Dartmouth College, and published in the world's most influential medical journal on spinal injuries.
Surgery: The Last Resort
Any surgical procedure has risks, but a serious downside linked to spine surgery is that there is a very high rate of failure. In an important review 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 believes that surgery should be the absolute last choice for treating back pain. Chiropractic care works to restore your spine to its normal function--without the need of high-risk surgery or drugs--and many research studies have demonstrated the usefulness of chiropractic for back pain.
If you live in Arlington and you need relief for your back pain, give our office 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!