9/15/2014 0 Comments
AARP Warns Its Subscribers to Avoid 4 Spinal Surgeries...
AARP published an article discussing "4 Surgeries to Avoid." One of the surgeries is a "Spinal Fusion for Spinal Stenosis." This caught my attention because one of the most commonly treated conditions in my office is spinal stenosis.
Spinal fusion surgeries are very common surgeries, especially when there is significant degeneration and compressed nerves. I see patients on a daily basis that have complications and/or complete failures from these procedures that are looking for anything that could possibly improve their pain from these failed procedures.
In these procedures, the vertebrae are "fused", or bolted and screwed together, and connected by rods. The idea is that you can keep the bones apart, and make room for the nerves.
A recent study of medicare patients showed that the number of Spinal Fusion surgery had increased 1,400 percent between 2002 and 2007 although the risks associated with this surgery are very high. Some of the complications associated with spinal fusions are that the fusion never takes, or does't heal. In this case you have bones that are broken, in fragments, and there is nothing that can be done. Other complications are infections, reactions to the anesthesia, nerve damage, and of course death.
Some of the most significant issues when considering these surgeries are:
I tell every patient, go from least invasive to most invasive procedures, and not to skip anything! With these types of complications, you absolutely must exhaust every option possible or you are putting your health at serious risk
We have had several patients that have been told they need surgery, you can listen to their stories here:
Motor vehicle collisions (MVC) have been research for years, and the mechanisms causing damage to the tissues of the spine are well understood. Many people can suffer with chronic pain for a lifetime after a whiplash injury, but why is that? Patients routinely tell me that "my x-rays and MRI are negative but I still hurt." Well, there is a reason for persistent pain after a MVC, and it is the spinal ligaments. During a whiplash injury the most commonly injured tissues are the facet joint ligaments and spinal discs. When damaged ligaments of the spine are permanently changed, and in many cases torn which causes them to lengthen, resulting in ligament laxity and joint looseness. Joint looseness is considered a very big problem when it is excessive. If your vertebrae slide or bend when you move your neck more than they are supposed to, then you have a significant problem that is some cases has to be stabilized through surgical fusion. I know that sounds extreme, but in the spine you can't reattach ligaments and stabilize the spine, the anatomy just will not allow it, so you end up with one option... fusion surgery.
If you are in a car wreck, there are a few things that you need to have done:
Whatever you do, make sure that your condition is not minimized by ER or you primary care physicians. These doctors are not spinal injury specialists, just as I am not an ER physician. Get your spinal ligaments checked if you are in a car wreck. If you have questions and are looking for a provider to help you, let me know, I may be able to help you find someone.
Dr. Shook is a spinal ligament injury specialist practicing in Hickory, NC. His office is Hickory Spine, and he can be reached at (828) 324-0800.
When considering spinal surgery, always remember two things: once you change the anatomy of your spine, you can't change it back, and always pursue treatment options from least invasive, to most invasive.
After I share this information with you, you may be upset because no one ever told you this, and it may be to late for you to go back. I see patients on a daily basis that are trying to avoid spinal surgery. We use a variety of evidence based treatments, and have had great success with neck and lower back disc herniation and bulging discs with a treatment we offer called non-surgical spinal decompression therapy. You should view the testimonials and the end of this blog post and listen to just a few of the testimonials our patients have given us due to their success with spinal decompression therapy. When you are going through the medical management of a spinal condition like a disc herniation or bulging disc, you need to know what your options are, and you need to make sure you don't skip a step, because if you do, cost and risk goes up.
This is a common protocol for the treatment of a spinal disc herniation that takes you from least invasive and least cost, to most invasive and most cost.
If your doctor recommends that you skip one of these steps, there needs to be a good reason, or you are putting yourself at greater risk with higher cost. I wanted to share this protocol because I've met numerous patients over the years that never had these options presented to them, and they ended up with a surgery that was not successful and now have long-term pain and disability. Sometimes spinal surgeries aren't successful, and it's not that they are bad, actually I'm very thankful we have them because they can be absolutely lifesaving. The problem comes when conservative options are skipped, and a surgery is performed that is not favorable, and then you can;t go back and try the conservative options you should have exhausted initially. Make sure you exhaust all your options before having surgery.
Dr. Brad Shook focuses his practice on the treatment of spinal injures, pain and automobile collision trauma.
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