In our Anchorage office, we see many patients who are suffering from back pain, and some of these patients have been told they might need surgery to recover. Thankfully, Dr. Matthisen has helped many people get relief without the need for any type of surgery. The scientific literature agrees with the success we see in our practice. One medical study published in the academic journal Spine found that seeing a chiropractor as your first step in overcoming with your back problems may actually keep you out of the operating room.
In this research study, medical professionals from Dartmouth analyzed data from 1,885 workers from the state of Washington who first saw either an orthopedic surgeon or a chiropractor for their low back issues. They then examined three years' worth of follow-up medical information to ascertain whether the individuals ended up having back surgery in an attempt to correct the issue.
What the authors found was that about 43% of the individuals who first saw a surgeon for their back pain ended up with surgery in that 3-year time span, whereas only 1.5% of those who first saw a chiropractor had the same fate. The authors wrote:
"Even after controlling for injury severity and other measures, workers with an initial visit for the injury to a surgeon had almost nine times the odds of receiving lumbar spine surgery compared to those seeing primary care providers, whereas workers whose first visit was to a chiropractor had significantly lower odds of surgery."
These are impressive findings. Seeing a chiropractor drastically reduces your odds of getting back surgery, plus the chiropractic patients in this study "had lower odds of chronic work disability" and they also had fewer expensive MRI tests.
Let's also take note this important detail: this study was carried out by orthopedic surgeons from Dartmouth College, and printed in the world's most influential medical publication on spinal injury.
Why You Should Avoid Surgery
Any surgical procedure has risks, but a major downside associated with spine surgery is that there is a very high rate of failure. In an important analysis in the European Spine Journal, researchers wrote:
"Failed back surgery is a problem that has become sufficiently widespread to even warrant its own special conferences, with recent reviews reporting failure rates ranging from 5 to 50%."
The authors of this same study concluded:
"It is extremely difficult to identify unequivocal predictor factors that can be used to accurately predict the outcome of surgery."
As a chiropractor, Dr. Matthisen believes that surgery should be the absolute last resort for treating back pain. Chiropractic care works to restore your spine to its normal function--without the need of high-risk surgery or drugs--and many scientific studies have established the usefulness of chiropractic for back pain.
If you live in Anchorage and you need care for your back pain, give our practice a call today at (907) 349-4212 for a consultation or an appointment. We'll help get you back on the road to a pain-free life!
- Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, Wickizer TM, Chan KC, Franklin GM. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington State. Spine 2013;38(11):953-964.
- Mannion AF, Elfering A. Predictors of surgical outcome and their assessment. European Spine Journal 2006;15(Suppl 1):S93-S108.