Most back surgeries are very costly, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 without insurance, and more importantly are ineffective and can even worsen the problem. Back surgery is used to correct a physical deformity — either to take pressure off a nerve root or the spinal cord, to stabilize an unstable part of that back that is causing pain, or to fix a deformity such as scoliosis. Many of these back surgeries can be avoided however. Here are some ways to help avoid back surgery:
- Exercise – Most people think that rest and restrictions are the best ways to help back pain. However, exercise is one of the best ways to help. Exercise will help to strengthen your muscles and the structures in the back. It will also get the blood pumping, helping to send oxygenated blood to the area.
- Diet/Weight loss – A healthy diet also plays a big role in the health of your spine. Junk food or foods that are high in sugar or fat can contribute to the development of inflammation in your spine, which can lead to pain or compression in the area. A healthy diet will also help you maintain a healthy weight, which ensures you are not over-stressing your spine.
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is similar to exercise in that it promotes muscle development, but physical therapy specifically targets the problem area(s) of your back. Physical therapy is great for conditions like bulging discs or sciatica pain, because it works to relieve compression or pressure in the area. Your doctor will give you home exercises that you should do when you are not at the clinic. Make sure to do these to help in your recovery to avoid back surgery.
- Injections – Injections can be helpful at calming the pain from irritated or compressed nerve. There are a number of different pain injections available, so you will want to consult with a spine specialist to make sure you are receiving the right injection for you.
- Spinal manipulation – If your back is bothering you because of an alignment issue then spinal manipulation or chiropractic care may be for you. It can help you to realign your spine and avoid unnecessary back surgery. If you have a pinched nerve or disc alignment issue then careful manipulation by a professional can really help.
According to the Health Services Research journal, a study was done to track 150,000 back pain patients. Researchers were interested in identifying any differences in the kind of health care used and how much it cost over the course of a year among patients who saw a physical therapist (PT) first, those who saw a PT at a later time after an initial visit with another provider, and those who never visited a PT during the study period. To qualify for the study, patients had to have no prior history of Lower Back Pain (LBP), back surgery, or other conditions that may have caused back pain.
The conclusion of the study found that patients with LBP who received care from a PT first experienced lower out-of-pocket, pharmacy, and outpatient costs after 1 year and reduced their likelihood of receiving an opioid prescription by 87% compared with patients who never visited a PT. The PT-first group also was associated with a 28% lower probability of having imaging services and 15% lower odds of making a visit to an emergency department.
Researchers believe that physical therapists are trained to have a very specialized knowledge about pain management, especially with the muscular skeletal system, allowing them to diminish a patient’s pain and improve movement. Therapists can guide patients through exercise regimens that strengthen muscles and help them develop control over their movements, which helps patients manage their current pain, avoid back surgery and prevent their condition from getting worse in the future.