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The Truth About Back Surgery Success Rates

Back pain is a common and debilitating complaint for many Americans and unfortunately can lead to increased doctor visits, missed work, lost wages, and increased medical expenses.

If you experience back pain, low back pain, sciatica, or leg pain, you need to seek treatment. If you experience back pain to the point where it disrupts daily life, you might be desperate enough to consider back surgery. However, back surgery is not always the right answer for everyone. 

Before you make your decisions, consider the success rates of back surgery.

Common Back Pain Treatment

The spine and spinal cord are critical to how we move, interact, and function in daily life. The spine is complex, connecting your body to your central nervous system. While fragile, it takes quite a beating. 

If you have back pain, then it’s normal to want to remedy the situation quickly. Here are the most common treatment types for back pain:

  • Non-invasive back pain treatments: Depending on the severity of your back pain, you may consider non-surgical pain treatments, like chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, alternative medicines, massages, acupuncture, and more. However, you should always connect with your doctor first to eliminate serious back pain before embarking on new activities or remedies.
  • Spinal procedures: There are a range of spinal surgeries that might help your back pain. This includes spinal decompression, spinal fusion, and a discectomy. However, these surgeries will only be recommended if appropriate, so they do not apply to all cases of back pain.
  • Minimally invasive spine surgery: Also known as MISS, minimally invasive spine surgery is exactly how it sounds, and is another alternative for severe, chronic back pain.

The Truth About Back Surgery Success Rates

If you’ve been recommended surgery, you’re probably wary of it or aware of some of the risks of back surgery. Back surgery is a highly complex and risky procedure. It requires an experienced spine surgeon who can perform the surgery with minimal complications.

What Percentage of Back Surgeries Are Successful?

Back surgery success rate range from 60-80%. This is not bad, however the failure rates are the problem. 

In addition to the quality of surgeon, the surgery type and other factors, your back pain recovery and success rate can be determined by your health as well. These health factors can negatively impact your back surgery recovery:

  • Smoking status
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Preexisting depression
  • Preexisting poor psychosocial well-being

What Percentage of Back Surgeries Fail?

When surgical methods for a patient are ineffective, they’re at an increased risk of back surgery failure. Back surgery failures are extremely common, so much so that there is a medical term for it: Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS). FBSS refers to a patient’s persistent pain following an operation aimed at reducing chronic pain; this can affect the neck, back, or limbs.

The unfortunate reality of back surgery is that when it fails, it fails very poorly. Risking your life for one surgery is bad enough, and if surgery can be avoided, then that is the best bet. 

Luckily, many lower back pains can be fixed without surgery—saving you time, money, and possibly your life.

Why Do So Many Back Surgeries Fail?

Many factors can contribute to a bad outcome for patients undergoing back surgery, such as:

  • The surgeon performed the wrong operation on the patient
  • The surgeon used the wrong surgical instrument during the operation
  • The patient’s blood pressure dropped during or after surgery

Some back surgery techniques are more successful than others. Different people respond differently to the procedure, and a surgery that works for someone else might not be the best option for you.

Do Doctors Recommend Back Surgery?

The answer is yes. Doctors recommend back surgery like spinal fusion surgery, laser spine surgery, and spinal cord stimulation. These treatment options are most available for serious spinal injuries, like a herniated disc, a sports injury, or a spinal deformity.

If you have a less serious condition like lower back pain, spinal stenosis, spinal instability, or nerve pain, then the doctor may suggest pursuing different pain treatment options instead.

Is Spinal Surgery Dangerous?

Anyone with severe back pain may have thought about getting surgery and have wondered about the dangers associated with spinal surgery. 

The good news is that spinal surgery mortality rates are relatively low. Statistics show that only 0.13% of all lumbar spine surgery patients died between 2007 and 2012. It also showed that mortality for simple spinal fusion surgery was 0.105%. For complex fusions it was 0.321%, and death due to decompressive surgery was at a rate of 0.081%.

Spinal fusion surgery is one of the most common spinal surgeries, and it comes with the highest success rate. However, every surgical procedure comes with potential complications. Back surgery statistics suggest a low complication rate, at just 7.6%, but complications are severe. Complications include death, disability, infection, paralysis and permanent disability. 

On top of this, patients may not realize that the surgery failed until weeks or months later. The most common issue with spinal surgery is that patients get stuck in a series of spinal surgeries. Also known as FBSS, this requires the patient to undergo repeated back surgeries to remedy a problem that is persistent. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that spinal surgery is riskier than other procedures and the recovery from spinal surgery can be lengthy and challenging

How to Avoid Failed Back Surgery Syndrome 

Chiropractic care for back pain is often more effective than surgery, and it can also be more cost-effective too.

When Can A Chiropractor Help With Back Pain?

A chiropractor is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems primarily related to the neck and spine. A chiropractor can almost always help with back pain. 

Chiropractic treatment aims to control your pain or symptoms and allow you to function better. If you are suffering from back pain, consider chiropractic care or physical therapy. There are also some stretches and exercises you can do to help lower back pain.

Are There Risks or Pain Associated With Chiropractic Care?

While chronic back pain can be debilitating, a chiropractor can help alleviate that back pain.

Chiropractors also perform a manual adjustment of the spine to relieve pressure and pain. Experienced chiropractors always perform an x-ray prior to any adjustments, further reducing risks.

You may be a bit sore after a chiropractic session, but most of the symptoms are gone within 24 hours. Fortunately, risks are low, and there are few reported side effects caused by manual manipulation.

How Often Do I Need To See A Chiropractor?

Your chiropractic treatment may be once or twice a week, or more depending on your condition. As you improve, you can often lower the frequency of your visits. You will also likely be given some exercises and stretches to help your treatment between sessions.

Safer Back Pain Solutions With Matthews Family Chiropractic

It’s essential to be aware of your health risk levels before undergoing any type of surgery. Since many back surgeries can be avoided, consider whether an alternative treatment method, such as chiropractic care or physical therapy, is better for you.

If you’ve been struggling with back pain, Dr. John Hanna of Matthews Family Chiropractic can help. As an experienced chiropractor in Matthews, he provides safe and effective treatments for back and spinal issues, so you can feel confident knowing that our treatment process is right for you. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team for more information. 

Clinic Hours:

Monday 7:30AM–11AM, 2:30–5:30PM
Tuesday Administrative Day
Wednesday 7:30AM–11AM, 2:30–5:30PM
Thursday 7:30AM–11AM, 2:30–5:30PM

Meet the Chiropractors

Dr. Hanna has helped many people out of pain and on to a lifetime of vibrant wellness.

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Since 1992, Dr. Mechelle has helped thousands of families with a variety of disorders...

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