His next statement was about how his wife went in for back surgery and never came out. She reacted to a medication they used and it killed her. She left behind a 14 year old special needs daughter and a 19 year old daughter and husband that is devastated. There was well more than enough life insurance money to cover his debts but listening to his voice, he would mortgage any amount of money to have his wife alive.
I don't know this gentleman but I can't help but feel a little responsible for not getting a message to him prior to his wife's back surgery that there are options that don't need surgery.
I know the pain and dysfunction can lead people to do anything to try and get rid of the pain. I also know that back pain is not as simple as it seems. The location of the pain doesn't always indicate the location of the dysfunction. Even having an MRI confirm a disc problem or pinched nerve does not guarantee it's a surgical issue or that you will have a good outcome from surgery.
In 2010, researchers reviewed records from 1,450 patients in the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation database who had diagnoses of disc degeneration, disc herniation or radiculopathy, a nerve condition that causes tingling and weakness of the limbs. Half of the patients had surgery to fuse two or more vertebrae in the hopes of resolving their low back pain. The other half had no surgery, even though they had comparable diagnoses.
After two years, only 26 percent of those who had surgery had returned to work, compared to 67 percent of patients who did not have surgery. Of the lumbar fusion subjects, 36 percent had complications and 27 percent required another operation. Permanent disability rates were 11 percent for patients undergoing surgery, compared to only 2 percent for patients who did not undergo surgery. In what might be the most troubling finding, researchers determined there was a 41 percent increase in the use of painkillers, with 76 percent of surgery patients continuing opioid use after surgery. Seventeen surgical patients died by the end of the study.
In 1994, the U.S. Public Health Service's Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) conducted the most thorough investigation into acute low back pain in adults and came to the following conclusion in its Patient Guide: "Even having a lot of back pain does not by itself mean you need surgery. Surgery has been found to be helpful in only 1 in 100 cases of low back pain problems. In some people, surgery can even cause more problems. This is especially true if your only symptom is back pain."
The editors of The Back Letter, a newsletter from the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C., don't even think surgery is a good idea.
"The world of spinal medicine, unfortunately, is producing patients with failed back surgery syndrome at an alarming rate ... There is growing frustration over the lack of progress in the surgical treatment of degenerative disc disease. Despite a steady stream of technological innovations over the past 15 years – from pedical screws to fusion cages to artificial discs – there is little evidence that patient outcomes have improved ... Many would like to see an entirely new research effort in this area, to see whether degenerative disc disease and/or discogenic pain are actually diagnosable and treatable conditions."
You know what frustrates me the most out of all this? When a back surgery fails, your doctor can give you a diagnosis of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. There's even a code that can be used to bill your insurance for all the treatment AFTER the surgery failed. And as the government moves towards socialized medicine, you're going to be paying for the surgery AND the treatment for the failed surgery. And you wonder why insurance rates have skyrocketed?
This is why I have the message of 'More Health, Less Healthcare.' Obviously the message isn't getting out enough because people in my own back yard are still being casualties of our healthcare system. The only solution is to create healthy people. Healthy people don't need spine surgery. Healthy people don't have cancer. Healthy people don't get Alzheimer's.
You are your own greatest doctor. You have an innate genetic intelligence that is designed to grow, heal, and repair. Your choices are your biggest help or detriment to this healing ability. Most of the time you just have to get out of the way and let your body do what it knows best.