Self Healing: Which Road Leads to Spine Surgery?

By Dr. John Huntington

According to the Mayo Clinic, “back surgery is needed in only a small percentage of patients” and, while “back pain is extremely common…surgery often fails to relieve it.”

When I started my practice 27 years ago, all researchers then agreed spine surgery was over-utilized. Now, it has skyrocketed, including a huge increase in fusions with metallic implants as well as the use of potentially cancer causing agents to speed bone fusions. (See last months piece on this: “Spine Care Crisis: Can YODA Help?”)

There is broad consensus that the current growth in healthcare spending is unsustainable and is in fact harming our economy and society at large. Spine care plays a huge role in this, and increased costs’ in this area comes from more intensive and more expensive care.

So, what determines whether a patient gets spine surgery?

A recent study found several predictors, a prime one being what doctor is first seen.

Washington state workers with an occupational back injury who saw a surgeon first were more likely to have surgery (42.7 percent) within three years. Those who first saw a chiropractor almost never required surgery (1.5 percent of workers).

Now, workers in Oregonmustsee a Chiropractor as the only nondrug intervention for first four weeks of care before considering surgery

Most have heard the phrase “When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”, so the above info should not surprise us.

In a quality chiropractic practice, the “tools” are many, and include coaching on diet, movement, breath work, as well as muscle-fascial-spine assessment and treatment.

The word “Doctor” comes from Latin and means “to teach”. And that’s the purpose of this column: to share safe, effective health approaches that are logical and shown to be true.

Have fun and keep it simple.

Dr. Huntington practices Chiropractic, Biomedical Acupuncture and Physiotherapy in Oracle, Az. 520-896-9844 huntingtonchiro@hotmail.com.

John Huntington (9 Posts)

John Huntington is a local business owner in Oracle. He is a chiropractor with many years in the community. He writes a health related article in Pinal Nugget.


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