Back pain – what works?

BIG PROBLEM: Back pain vying to be the number one cause of sick leave.

CHRONIC lower back pain is becoming a big problem. In the UK, USA and Australia it is fighting to be the number one reason people are off work. So what is the solution?

Lumbar Fusion Surgery?
Although there are a number of different methods, all involve joining or fusing together two of the bony discs in the spine so that they no longer move, the theory being that it is the movement that causes the pain.

What is success?

When you think of the criteria for successful surgery what are your definitions? No more pain? Full range of movement? Back to work? Studies show that only 32 per cent of ‘successful’ spinal fusion patients return to work within two years.

A recent lawsuit in the USA deemed that lumbar fusion surgery was successful even though it left the patient paralysed from the waist down.

A survey of spinal surgeons in the US asked about the use of an artificial disc. Although 75 per cent would recommend it for their patients, only 9 per cent would have the surgery themselves.

So what are my options?
Stay active: although doctors used to prescribe bed rest for back pain, keeping moving stops the muscles stiffening up and causing more pain. So stay as active as you comfortably can. (marathons optional!) Ibruprofen and anti-inflammatories help. Try to stay away from cortisone and steroid injections as these actually break down the discs and tissues in the spine causing long term problems.

Physiotherapy: long-term studies show that when it comes to those success criteria, I mentioned before – no pain, full range of movement, back to work – that in the groups that had just physiotherapy (no surgery) there was a much higher success rate. And that these patients had a greater range of movement, were back to work within six months and had reduced pain.

For more information and options on treating lower back pain please check out our blog or call us on 952 883 151

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