According to the Mayo Clinic, only about 5% of people who experience back pain are considered viable candidates for spinal surgery. This is because a number of safer, conservative treatment options exist for the back that have proven effective against not only pain but the cause as well.
More than complicated and expensive procedures, people need education. This should be free and accessible. In high school, most of us take health class. We learn about the importance of being healthy, but perhaps more time should be spent teaching us how to do that.
One area most relevant to promoting the health of the spine is preventing muscle imbalances. These are fairly common since most of us, even those who work out, are not familiar with that condition. Muscle imbalances occur when one muscle group is more developed than its opposing group (to the side, front or back of it that performs the opposite function).
This type of distortion can gradually tug the spine out of proper alignment. Muscle imbalances may be left-to-right or front-to-back. A common front-to-back imbalance is overdeveloped abs and lax lower back muscles. This results in hunched shoulder, tilted pelvis and lower back muscles too weak to properly support the spine.
If the importance of muscle balance was common knowledge, perhaps prevention would reign as its most popular treatment.
Why Be Cautious About Surgery?
The prospect of spinal surgery is full of undesirable qualities. The risk of most procedures is highly debatable, since reported success rates vary drastically from one website, surgeon or doctor to another.
Adding to this suspicious situation is the fact that surgeons’ motives have recently been called into question. The Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that a controversial and complex spinal fusion surgery was being performed with highly increased frequency on Medicare patients between 2002 and 2007; the rate increased 15-fold. This was alarming particularly because the procedure was not deemed medically necessary and the success rates were lower than less complicated procedures.
Five surgeons from the Norton Hospital in Kentucky performed the third most spinal fusion procedures on recipients of Medicare in the country during roughly this time period. They also received over $7 million from Medtronic Inc., half of whose revenue comes from selling spinal fusion equipment. See more on this at Online.WSJ.com.
Not only does performing complex operations pay more from insurance, but it comes with extravagant kickbacks. This poses an obvious conflict of interest for those who swore to the Hippocratic Oath.
There are a number of safe, natural ways to eliminate back pain. If muscle imbalance is the culprit, the imbalanced groups must be identified and balanced. A physical therapist can assist in this if the imbalance is not obvious. See Wellnes.Lattc.Edu for more on preventing and correcting imbalances.
An array of home medical equipment is available to help alleviate back pain. One such product is the home traction kit. This device uses water weight and tension on pulleys to apply a pulling force to a harness that fits around he chin. The pulleys and water are suspended overhead using a door while a gentle upward force is exerted on the head. This stretches out the spine, particularly the top. Be sure to read the customer reviews; they offer firsthand and important information about product effectiveness and safety.
The plethora of natural treatments for back pain combined with the dubious circumstances of spinal surgery make going under the knife an absolute last resort. If you haven’t tried everything else, then surgery is not for you.