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Which Road Leads to Spine Surgery?

September 6, 2013

I am a big proponent of using evidence based care - using things that have been proven by science and medicine. While surgery is an extremely important option, the medical research continues to suggest its used too much for back pain. Medical researchers recently found that workers with a back injury who visited a surgeon first were significantly more likely to receive spine surgery within three years (42.7% of workers) than workers who visited a chiropractor first (1.5% of workers). This association held true even when controlling for injury severity and other variables. Keeney, et al. noted that "there is little evidence spine surgery is associated with improved population outcomes, yet surgery rates have increased dramatically since the 1990s."

While back pain is rampant, this discovery by medical doctors themselves strongly suggests that getting back surgery depends a lot on who you see first. This is evidence based research and as such its the type of research that drives advancement for our society. While medicine is extremely important, this medical research clearly supports using other health care professionals such as chiropractors to help achieve improved outcomes and help ease the burden on our stressed healthcare system.

Reference: Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, et al. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington state. Spine, Dec. 12, 2012.

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