amarillo chiropractor, lumbar fusion

Research On Lumbar Fusion Outcomes

Dr. Jeff Williams, Amarillo chiropractor, discusses

This study on low back pain and low back fusion surgery was done within the Washington State Workers’ Compensation system.   

Why They Did It

To find out how effective lumbar fusion surgery and devices were on clinical and disability outcomes. This was seen as a question worth asking since the rates of lumbar fusions continue to increase. 

How They Did It·     

  • They identified injured workers from Washington State that had lumbar fusion anywhere between 1994 and 2001.·     
  • They found these people through the Washington State Workers’ Compensation system administrative database.·     
  • They took into account different factors such as specific technique as well as risk or disability, reoperation rates. and post-surgical complication.·     
  • They found 1,950 people eligible for the study. 

What They Found·     

  • Of the 1,950 patients, fusions involving the installation of cages went up from 3.6% of the surgeries in 1996, to 58.1% of the surgeries in 2001.·     
  • Overall disability rates at the 2 year (post-surgical) mark were 63.9%·     
  • Reoperation rates for the same time table were 22.1%·     
  • Complications rate over the same time period were 11.8%.·     
  • Use of cages or instrumentation was associated with more risk for complications when compared to bone only fusions.·  
  • Discography and multilevel fusions predicted more reoperations.

Wrap It Up

New intervertebral fusion devices were introduced in 1996. These devices are associated with increased complications, reoperations, and disability

It is clear to see that low back fusion surgery is not the way out of pain. But, evidence-based, patient-centered chiropractors DO have answers. Of course, we can't fix every issue we encounter and there is most definitely reason to have spinal surgery from time to time. But, out of the 51 million people suffering back pain, only about 5% of those actually need or require surgical intervention. 

 - Maghout J, e.e., Lumbar fusion outcomes in Washington State workers' compensation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2006. 31(23): p. 2715-23.


Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast ( Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected]Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at

Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109