The results of research into factors that influence the prognosis of post-surgical recovery can assist patients in their decision-making process. Consider the following:
1. Prior Opioid Use
Patients who use opioid pain-killers prior to surgery may have poorer outcomes. In the study found at www.sciencedaily.com, researchers tracked the progress of 583 spine surgery recipients at three and 12 months post-op. Fifty-six percent had used opioid medications prior to surgery.
To measure post-surgical progress, researchers implemented tests for pain, depression, disability, physical and mental function and distress scores. Participants who used opioids in the past exhibited poorer results post-surgery than those who hadn’t used such medications. Higher daily doses of opioid medications corresponded with poorer outcomes.
2. Psychological Factors
In a 2012 study, researchers found that patients who exhibited signs of depression and negative affect just after surgery had higher pain and disability scores three most post-op than surgery recipients who didn’t exhibit these psychological factors. While this finding led researchers to support psychological testing and intervention after spinal surgery to improve recovery prognosis, the United States Preventive Services Task Force goes a step further to support such testing and intervention before surgery is pursued.
See more on the study at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
3. Inflammation Levels
Researchers recently took blood samples of 100 patients receiving discectomy surgery for disc herniation treatment; they tested the samples for an inflammatory marker known as C-reactive protein. They then compared progress in terms of lower back pain scores at three months, six months and one year after surgery. They found that high preoperative levels of the inflammatory chemical corresponded with poorer outcomes.
See more on this study at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
According to the above studies, patients may want to reconsider spinal surgery if they have used opioid medications, if they suffer from psychological issues such as depression or if inflammation is a key factor in their back pain. Patients can request psychological testing and a blood test to confirm or rule out the latter two.
One of the most serious spinal surgery risks is a lack of effectiveness. Back pain patients should make sure they’ve exhausted all conservative options before going under the knife.