There is a reason surgeons, doctors, and physicians try to avoid back surgery like the plague. Despite that, numerous patients are recommended to go under the knife, and more alarmingly, are never told that they might have alternatives to this form of surgery. In reality, back surgery is a necessity in very few situations and is, in most instances, avoidable – not to mention that they come with a significant set of potential risks – which is what this article will initially be covering.
The Risks Associated with Back Surgery
There are plenty of back surgery risks, including excessive bleeding, infection, and nerve injury. Moreover, many people do not like the idea of being under the influence of the anesthetic or using addictive pills to manage post-surgery pain. To make matters worse, there are no guarantees about the outcome of the surgery. Unfortunately, many patients do not even discuss the intended outcome of the surgery with their doctors or healthcare providers.
Many times, surgery is presented as a solution to the pain. The doctors expect the surgery to alleviate the pain and assume that removing pain will allow them to get back to their routine and physical activities. The problem is that surgeries are designed to eliminate the cause of your pain and not help you return to everyday life – not to mention that surgeries are sometimes unsuccessful even at removing the pain.
Not only can surgery not fix the existing pain, but it can even exacerbate it. Your tissues cannot tell the difference between surgery and being hit by a bus, as both are examples of trauma. For instance, even if your surgery managed to resolve the ‘bulging disc,’ the surgeons had to pierce through multiple tissue layers, and now the body needs additional time and effort to heal. Similarly, back surgery intends to fix the one apparently problematic point on your spine. However, depending upon the type of back surgery, it might leave you with other issues.
For example, spinal fusion is a type of surgery that involves screwing plates alongside the spine and between the bones to restrict movement within that region. The issue is that a spinal fusion will most likely increase your chances of requiring additional surgeries in the future. Why? Because a spine is structured to move together, and limiting the movement in one area will lead to extra movement in neighboring regions. This extra movement causes additional stress in those areas, leading to pain and, eventually, the need for another fusion.
When Can You Avoid Back Surgery?
Under intense back pain, it is easy to believe that surgery is your only option. However, considering the risks discussed above, it is wise to explore a more conservative option with lower risks and keep surgery as your last resort. Conditions where you can initially consider a conservative approach include sciatica, stenosis, bulging discs, and herniation – the most common back conditions which often lead to unnecessary surgeries.
It is always a good idea to seek a second opinion if you have been recommended back surgery. It is even better if you can get this second opinion from someone who does not belong to a surgical profession and earns a living by improving people’s conditions without putting them under the knife. Usually, this person is a physical therapist.
What Can You Try Instead of Surgery?
Remember that when you are trying to avoid back surgery, movement is your best friend. However, the type of movement is essential, as some movements might worsen your condition instead of improving it. To find the right movement, identify the ones that ease your back pain. For instance, if you find that your pain is lower when you sit down, you might want to try hugging your knees. On the other hand, if standing up improves your pain, you could try lying down on your front and pressing up onto the elbows.
While pain relief is often the first step of treating your condition, it should not be the sole objective. Remember that treating the pain does not heal the condition, and hence, does not eliminate the symptoms for good. To identify a lasting solution, you need to search for the root cause of your suffering. Such causes could include your poor posture while sitting to the way you work out in the gym. Even an old injury that you had forgotten all about might be the culprit. Whatever the reason, a trained expert will help you identify and fix it. One-on-one physical therapy is the most effective approach towards avoiding back surgery.
To conclude, remember that, more often than not, back surgery is not the only option you have and should certainly not be your priority. You will often find that there are easier, simpler, holistic, and less invasive solutions available to your problem. Either way, it does not hurt to explore your options, and that is precisely what you should do. If you need more information on how to prevent back surgeries and problems, please feel free to contact us.