Why The First Treatment for Back Pain Is Rarely Surgery

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Back Pain

Spine surgery is an incredibly effective option when it comes to treating a wide range of back issues, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always the first option when a problem develops. In fact, surgery is rarely the first option. But if surgery is oftentimes so effective, why isn’t it considered earlier in the process? Below, we take a closer look at why surgeons are slow to jump to an operation despite the fact that it’s oftentimes an effective treatment method.

Why Spine Surgery Isn’t The First Option

There are a number of reasons why doctors and patients should be hesitant to jump into a surgery at the first sign of an issue, even though it may be an effective option down the road.

  • Conservative Care Is Low-Risk – Taking your time and attempting to treat your spine issue with conservative care techniques is a very low-risk option. Unless you’re dealing with a very time sensitive issue like a tumor, you’re unlikely to be worse for the wear if you attempt some non-operative treatments and they fail to procedure results. Physical therapy, a spinal brace or simply putting off surgery for another 6-8 weeks isn’t likely to leave you worse off. However, if the treatment is successful, you avoid an invasive operation. The benefits of attempting non-operative treatment far outweigh the risks of delaying surgery a little longer.
  • Surgery Involves Tissue Damage – Even though surgeries are getting much smaller, no matter how minimally invasive the operation is, there will be tissue damage. Your surgeon is going to need to cut into the skin and other soft tissues like muscle in order to access the surgical site, and this is a significant trauma to these tissues. These structures will need time to recover, and there will be localized pain. This is all part of the process, but if it can be avoided, your doctor will try to treat the issue with conservative methods.
  • Complications – Surgeries are getting much safer, but no operation goes perfectly 100 percent of the time. Dr. Sinicropi has an impeccable track record, but surgeries carry the risk of complications that non-operative methods simply do not. During and after an operation, you’re at a higher risk for issues like bleeding, nerve damage and infection. Non-operative methods do not carry these potential complications.
  • Conservative Care Is Oftentimes Effective – One of the biggest reasons why surgeons don’t rush a patient to surgery is because conservative treatment is oftentimes very effective at treating the problem. By really understanding what you’re up against and developing an individualized treatment plan that involves a combination of exercise, rest, posture improvements, weight management, physical therapy, strength training and more, there’s a real possibility that you can alleviate your symptoms or completely resolve your back issues. Non-operative treatments are so commonly pursued because they tend to work well!
  • No Guarantee With Surgery – Finally, although surgery is highly effective, there’s no guarantee that it will completely address your issues. You don’t want to go through the entire surgical process and rehabilitation only to realize the issue wasn’t fully addressed. Your surgeon will do everything in their power to ensure the chosen procedure is right for your situation prior to the operation, but nothing is guaranteed. Even if it is the right option, you’re still going to need to put in the work during your rehabilitation, so it’s not a magical solution that will always solve your problems with ease.

Dr. Sinicropi has performed more than 10,000 successful spine surgeries, but it’s rare for him to recommend an operation at the initial consultation. However, if it comes to it, you can have confidence knowing that he is the right doctor for you. For more information, or for help with a different spine issue, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today at (651) 430-3800.

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