In our Portland office, we see a lot of patients who are troubled with back pain, and some of these patients have been told they might need surgery to recover. Fortunately, Dr. Helton has helped many people get relief without the need for any type of surgery. The scientific research agrees with the success we see in our office. One research study published in the academic journal Spine found that consulting with a chiropractor as your first move in overcoming with your back pain may actually keep you out of the operating room.
In this study, medical professionals from Dartmouth reviewed statistics from 1,885 workers from Washington state who first saw either a surgeon or a chiropractic doctor for their low back issues. They then looked at three years' worth of follow-up medical information to find out whether the patients ended up having back surgery in an attempt to treat the problem.
What the researchers observed was that about 43% of the people who first saw a surgeon for their back pain ended up with surgery in that 3-year time span, whereas only 1.5% of those who first saw a chiropractor had the same fate. The authors wrote:
"Even after controlling for injury severity and other measures, workers with an initial visit for the injury to a surgeon had almost nine times the odds of receiving lumbar spine surgery compared to those seeing primary care providers, whereas workers whose first visit was to a chiropractor had significantly lower odds of surgery."
These are impressive outcomes. Visiting a chiropractor significantly reduces your odds of having back surgery, plus the chiropractic patients in this scientific study "had lower odds of chronic work disability" and they also had fewer expensive MRI tests.
Let's also keep in mind this important point: this study was performed by orthopedic surgeons from Dartmouth College, and printed in the world's most influential medical publication on spinal injury.
The Risks of Surgery
Any surgical procedure has risks, but a major problem associated with spinal surgery is that there is a very high rate of failure. In an important review in the European Spine Journal, researchers wrote:
"Failed back surgery is a problem that has become sufficiently widespread to even warrant its own special conferences, with recent reviews reporting failure rates ranging from 5 to 50%."
The authors of this same study concluded:
"It is extremely difficult to identify unequivocal predictor factors that can be used to accurately predict the outcome of surgery."
As a chiropractor, Dr. Helton is convinced that surgery should be the absolute last resort for treating back pain. Chiropractic care works to restore your spine to its normal function--without the need of risky surgery or drugs--and many scientific studies have established the efficacy of chiropractic for back pain.
If you live in Portland and you need care for your back pain, give our practice a call today at (503) 771-1974 for a consultation or an appointment. We'll help get you back on the road to a pain-free life!