Research: Low Back Discs: Surgical or Conservative Care?

Friday, August 14th, 2015
According to a paper by Donald Murphy, DC (And brought to my attention by Craig Benton, DC in Lampasas, TX), the following stats are scary but true:

  • Between 1997 and 2005 – spending on spine-related disorders rose 65%.
  • Between 1994-2004 – Medicare costs rose 629% for epidural steroid injections.
  • Opioid medications rose 423%
  • Spine MRIs rose 307%
  • Lumbar fusion surgeries rose 220%

At the same time, there has been less positive results or outcomes for people. Through outcome assessment tracking, and self-reports, patients have shown a rise in physical limitations from 20.7% in 1997 to 24.7% in 2005. Also, the number of disabled workers rose as well. 

So, to boil it all down and keep it straight, that’s an amazing amount of additional expense and treatment while providing less benefit as a result of those treatments. This is usually where a consumer would start to shop alternatives in any other marketplace outside of the healthcare industry. 

It is our opinion that conservative care should be first while keeping a team approach amongst different practitioners as the best course of treatment. Now…..on to the paper.

Why They Did It
See discussion above!

What Did They Decide?
Patients should first be screened for red flags and signs of surgical intervention such as:

  • bowel or bladder symptoms
  • fever
  • cancer
  • strange weight loss, etc…

Absent of significant red flags, conservative treatment should be the entry point into the healthcare system.

Wrap Up
In addition to deciding that conservative treatment was the best initial option, of the conservative treatments available, chiropractic “has been shown through multiple studies to be safe, clinically effective, cost-effective, and to provide a high degree of patient satisfaction. As a result, in patients with discogenic or radicular pain syndromes for whom the surgical indications are not absolute, a minimum of 2 or 3 months of chiropractic management is indicated.”

Research abstract info:
Troyanovich SJ, Harrison DD, Harrison DE. Low back pain and the lumbar intervertebral disk: Clinical consideration for the doctor of chiropractic. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Feb. 1999;22(2), pp96-104. 

Just another reason to call a chiropractor TODAY!

Research and clinical experience shows that, in about 80%-90% of headaches, neck, and back pain, in comparison to the traditional medical model, patients get good or excellent results with Chiropractic . Chiropractic care is safe, more cost-effective, it decreases your chances of having surgery, and it reduces your chances of becoming disabled.  We do this conservatively and non-surgically. In addition, we can do it with minimal time requirements and minimal hassle on the part of the patient. And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, we can likely keep it that way while raising your general, overall level of health!  

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think. 

And….SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!!   We cannot make a difference without your help.

Till next time……

The Amarillo Chiropractor Blog is written by Dr. Jeff Williams.

Amarillo TX Amarillo Pain & Accident Chiropractic Clinic provides customized chiropractic care to the Amarillo, Canyon, Pampa, Happy, White Deer, Dumas, Groom, Conway, Panhandle, Claude, Clarendon, Borger, Tulia, Hereford, Fritch, Bushland, and Vega communities. Visit our main website at for customized Chiropractic in Amarillo TX.

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by Jeff S. Williams, D.C.
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