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Spine Surgery’s Risks, Complications & Failures

Published medical research: Minimally invasive spine surgery and spine fusion failures are common! CSC offers non-surgical care for neck and back pain. Understand your options before going for surgery. This article is all about spine surgery. Hope you find it helpful in your quest to heal from neck and back pain.

Doctors operating patient

Spine surgery is not as successful as many have been told. Published research on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database reports the success rate at 26%. This article will go over the various forms of spine surgery, including minimally invasive spine surgery and spine fusion. We will also provide information on complications and long-term success rates. But before we start on the topic of spine surgery, we find it necessary to define success in clinical terms from doctors’ and patients’ points of view.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines success as a “degree or measure of succeeding.“ In other words, any improvements or gains are considered successes achieved. A spine surgeon may view the surgical intervention as successful when patient symptoms decrease or when the quality of life increases. We have seen our fair share of symptomatic post-surgical patients who were classified as successful surgical cases.

Conservative Treatment Of The Spine Offers Better Results Than Surgery.

If you are a beck or neck pain sufferer, you might reconsider having spine surgery. The general rule is to get focused on conservative treatments before thinking about spine surgery. The therapeutic technologies and devices available today have dramatically improved the non-surgical methods of spine care. The most effective of these methods is NSD Therapy®. NSD Therapy® is an integrative method of care given by chiropractic and physiotherapists combined. The NSD THerapy® system incorporates advanced therapy devices such as the RxDecom, Shockwave therapy, high-intensity laser therapy, and several other therapeutic devices, depending on the need.

In the coming sections, we have described spine surgery in detail. We have also provided an example of a patient we treated who was told that surgery was successful. It may have been successful from a clinical standpoint, but he was still unable to live an active life. We have discussed the case below:

Real-Life Case Of A Reported Successful Back Surgery?

A case that comes to mind is a male patient who presented to our center with severe, excruciating pain in his lower back and legs.

In addition to pain, he suffered from significant weakness in his legs, resulting in a foot drop. The severity of pain prevented the patient from sleeping or participating in any physical activity. After consulting his surgeon and us, the patient chose the surgical route with the surgeon-recommended laminectomy or fusion (minimally invasive spine surgery).

Immediately after the surgery, his lower back and legs’ pain decreased by more than 50%. His spine surgeon considered the minimally invasive spine surgery as successful, and within days the patient was scheduled for post-surgery rehabilitation. Physical therapy and home care exercises were provided to the patient, and the patient was discharged from the hospital.

Post-surgical care and home care exercises provided minimal improvements. However, the prolonged sitting, standing, and even walking were still painful. The patient continued to walk with a noticeable limp and complained of moderate back pain, leg pain, and pins and needles in his legs, feet, and toes. Clinically you could argue that this was a successful spine surgery, and you would be right to a certain extent. However, from a patient’s perspective, the outcomes were not as favorable as they should have been.

Six Months Later

Six months after his spine operation, he still suffered from a mild foot drop, weakness in the legs, inability to walk more than 200 meters, and inability to sit for prolonged periods.

In short, he was unable to continue with the life he knew. This is the story of just one patient. But many have similar faiths when they opted for surgical interventions without exhausting an effective conservative means of non-invasive therapy.

Back pain sufferers are often told that spine surgery is successful in 90% of cases. What most neglects to elaborate on is the degree of success in both the short and long term. While it is true that surgery can reduce the level of pain and discomfort, sufferers often continue to have residual pain of varying degrees.

Published research articles often portray spine surgery success rates from 50%-90%, depending on the source you come across. The differences in rates of improvements depend on the severity of the condition and, of course, on the researcher’s established protocols and guidelines that define postoperative clinical successes. Therefore, it is not your surgeon who provided the wrong information. The surgeon is just relaying the published literature.

Although strict publishing criteria exist, the vetting of research material is a daunting task for publishers to assess the provided research article thoroughly. Furthermore, most surgeons publish successful patient cases. Rarely will a surgeon release for publication a failed surgical intervention.

Also, a researcher who obtained research grants from implant manufacturers may have an affinity towards publishing articles favorable to implants. Although there are strict criteria for disclosing conflicting interests, some may have discovered means that avoid it. In short, published research is not always flawless in claims of success.

Why Is Conflict Of Interest In Medical Research So Rampant?

The National Academies Press in Washington, D.C. (United States of America) published the results of surveys approved by the U.S. Governing Board of the National Research Council that showed the extensiveness and assortments of dealings and associations between physicians and industry researchers, and academic educators in reputable universities. They reported such conduct was universal in academia, teaching hospitals, and societies (associations).

National Academies magazine

According to the National Academies Press in Washington, D.C., various disturbing situations exist in published research articles, undermining U.S. public trust in medicine. You can download a PDF of this report from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). We have provided an excerpt of these alarming situations as examples below:

  • Researchers getting gifts from drug companies is extremely rampant;
  • Drug companies and medical device companies continual visiting of doctors’ offices with free samples is widespread;
  • The vast majority of biomedical research in the United States is made possible by grants and financial support from the industry (pharmaceuticals and medical device manufacturers);
  • Academic researchers in Universities or teaching hospitals put their names on pre-written research paid for the publication by pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, surgical implant makers, and other industry players;
  • Professional societies (medical associations or other groups) provide research materials without disclosing the source of their funding or conflicts of interests of the authors that drafted the research article.

Insights Into Why There Are So Many Conflicting Reports About The Clinical Successes Claimed By Most Regarding Spine operation.

We found a few articles when we set out on a mission to find surgical complications related to spine surgery. The vast majority of articles published were favorable of spine surgery in the short and long term. Therefore, we changed our search criteria and started to look at published research on governmental agencies’ data compiled. We were astonished by what we discovered in published research from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database. Before discussing the merits or importance of this published research, let’s go over the common types of spine surgery.

Different Types Of Back Operations Procedures

spine surgery

In general terms, spine surgery is performed when the spinal nerve, spinal cord, or thecal sac (housing of the spinal cord) are compressed to the degree that causes significant symptoms. Three main disorders that lead to such compression are:

  1. Spinal disc degeneration, bulge, herniation, protrusion, prolapse, extrusion, or fragmentation (slipped disc or slip-disc)
  2. Degenerative and arthritic changes in the facets (spinal joints)
  3. Hypertrophy thickening and degeneration) of the ligamentum flavum or other soft tissues impacting the spinal canal or spinal joints.

The primary goal of spine surgery is to decompress damaged tissue’s compressive effects, either by cutting or instrumentation (plates, rods, and screws). In some cases, both cutting and instrumentation are used. Decompression spine surgery involves the removal of structures or tissues that are compressing and putting pressure on nerves. There are several methods, and we shall discuss them briefly below.

Spinal Decompression: Laminectomy/Laminotomy, Facetectomy, Foraminotomy & Partial Discectomy

spinal foraminotomy

Spinal decompression surgeries are sometimes touted as minimally invasive spine surgery. They are called minimally invasive spine surgery, as most can be performed using the keyhole method. However, just because they are considered minimally invasive doesn’t make them any more successful or non-intrusive. It is invasive and even damaging to muscles, ligaments, spinal discs, spinal joints, or spinal nerves any time you cut into tissue. As such, they fail to provide long-term relief.

There are various types of minimally invasive spine surgery in Malaysia. Generally speaking, most fail in the long term. The vast majority of patients would experience residual pain even if highly experienced surgeons in Europe or the United States did the surgical intervention. Moreover, most will require additional surgical interventions within 2-5 years following minimally invasive spine surgery, such as surgical decompression.

There are several types of minimally invasive spine surgery or spinal decompression surgery. We have listed them below:

  • Radiofrequency (RF) Ablation or Radiofrequency Neurotomy
  • Laminectomy or Laminotomy
  • Facetectomy or Spinal Joint Surgery
  • Foraminotomy
  • Partial Discectomy
  • Nucleoplasty

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) Or Radiofrequency Neurotomy For The Chronic Or Acute Spine Pain

Radiofrequency (RF) Ablation Or Radiofrequency Neurotomy

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or radiofrequency neurotomy is minimally invasive spine surgery. The primary goal of radiofrequency ablation or neurotomy is to destroy the nerves that sense pain. The term Neurotomy is descriptive of surgical interventions that cut or damage nerves that sense pain. Ablation is a general term meaning taking away or removal. In surgical scenarios, ablation applies to the surgical removal of tissue.

In short, Radiofrequency ablation and radiofrequency neurotomy are interchangeable terms used in the destruction of the innate or inherent functions of nerves. It is carried out through radiofrequency that generates heat by radio waves. RF ablation has the most conflicting research when it comes to clinical success. Some call it an absolute failure, while others cite mild relief of pain temporarily.

All About  Radiofrquency Abalation (RFA Or RF Abaltion) Of The Spine:

Radiofrequency ablation or RF ablation is a minimally invasive spine surgical procedure that takes about one to two hours. The process requires using several specialized needles inserted in the vicinity of the pain-sensing nerve (medial branch nerve) in your lower back to destroy the nerve with heat. RFA or radiofrequency ablation treatment for back pain patients it’s performed In an operating room under live X-ray. You will be positioned on your stomach, sedated through local anesthetics, and conscious during the procedure.

The surgeon will insert three to four needles after carefully assessing you, making sure that you are a candidate for the procedure. Once the needles are in place, the radiofrequency machine connected to the needles will start to send strong radio waves to the tip of the needles. Radio waves will heat the tip of these needles and burn the nearby tissues and nerves.

Most patients may experience increased pain and discomfort, and some may report an intense burning-like sensation similar to a severe sunburn in the area treated. According to published reports, you should notice an improvement in symptoms two to three weeks following the procedure. However, RFA is not a cure. In fact, it may harm the nearby tissues, including the muscle that stabilizes your spine. To understand this better, we have outlined the functions of the medial branch nerve, which is a target of radiofrequency ablation surgery below:

  • Sense pain in your spinal joints
  • Controls the ligaments of your spinal joints (medially)
  • The only nerve the innervates and controls the multifidus muscles

What Will The RFA or Radiofrequency Ablation Surgery Destroy?

Radiofrequency ablation surgical procedure destroys the nerve in soft tissues at the site of injection. Killing off the nerve will also have irreparable consequences, as we will discuss later.

It is important to note that the medial branch of the spinal nerve is not just a pain-sensing nerve but also one that also stabilizes the spine. As such, long-term implications are still not well reported. For example, killing and destroying the medial branch nerve damages the controlling mechanisms of spinal joint ligaments and the multifidus muscles. The multifidus muscles are a small group of muscles that helps:

  1. Stabilize the spine’
  2. Assist with extension
  3. Perform side building movement
  4. Help with rotation of the trunk and waist

Moreover, destroying or killing the medial branch nerve leads to degenerative changes in the multifidus that are reversible. With time, degenerative and fatty changes in the multifidus muscle develop, which may destabilize your spine further.

As mentioned earlier, the multifidus is spinal stabilizers; their demise will accelerate the degenerative changes in your spinal joints and spinal discs. The rapid and progressive degenerative changes in spinal discs and spinal joints caused may require you to undergo more invasive spine surgical procedures. Therefore, a better alternative to radiofrequency ablation treatment as a conservative method that fixes and repairs the spine holistically and noninvasively.

A Better Alternative To Radiofrequency Ablation Surgery

Radiofrequency ablation or radiofrequency Neurotomy may provide you pain relief for 6-18-months at best according to experts who studied this procedure!

So, why would you take the risk with methods known to fail in the long term? Do you cut the wire to the light that illuminates the check engine? You wouldn’t because the problem will still be there, and in time you will have more significant issues! The same applies to your body. Why would you cut or kill the nerve that warns you of a problem? Take our advice; short-term gains through invasive methods are wasteful at best.

Our clinical teams are opposed to invasive procedures for the spine, including minimally invasive spine surgery. RF or Neurotomy, regardless of its level of invasiveness, is a procedure best avoided. The harm inflicted on the joints and soft tissues outweighs even the best possible scenario. In short, there are no shortcuts to getting better. Cutting away the nerves or killing them with heat or radio waves does not constitute a cure. Seek useful conservative treatment options before opting for this invasive procedure. Visit CSC’s award-winning chiropractor in Kuala Lumpur today and learn about the best comprehensive means of spine care.

Spinal Decompression Through Laminectomy/Laminotomy

illustration of spinal laminectomy before and after surgery

The lamina is the bony structure at the rear of the spine. They protect the spinal canal and enable the attachment of critical ligaments for spinal stability. Your spinal canal starts at the base of the skull and runs down to the tailbone. Laminectomy is a minimally invasive spine surgery that removes the lamina. Earlier, we mentioned that the lamina has the attachment point for a critical ligament. Ligamentum flavum is a highly specialized ligament that connects spinal segments through their laminal attachment points.

The ligamentum flavum limits excessive motion and has the contractile ability to reposition the spine into proper alignment following a flexion or forward bending. Repetitive traumatic events, poor posture, and prolonged sitting can lead to hypertrophy of the ligamentum flavum. Hypertrophy of the ligamentum flavum is the leading cause of spinal canal stenosis.

A laminectomy is performed not because the lamina has issues but rather due to the thickening of the ligamentum flavum. In reality, this procedure is performed to remove the thickened or hypertrophied ligamentum flavum. The surgeon may remove a part of the lamina (partial laminectomy) or all of it. In the old days, they removed the whole lamina.

In recent times, they remove only parts to avoid excessive instabilities that often arise from a laminectomy. Surgeons refer to this as minimally invasive spine surgery, as it can be performed through a keyhole method of surgical intervention. According to published research, patients that opt for a laminectomy often require a second or third surgical intervention.

Decompression Of Spine Performed Through A Foraminotomy

the spine journal

Spinal nerves originate from the spinal cord. As they leave the cord, they pass through a passageway. The passageway provides protection and an exit point for the spinal nerves. These passageways are termed intervertebral foramina or foramen. But, the foramina are not a passage just for the nerves.

Other structures also pass through this opening, including the spinal artery, veins, and Sinu-Vertebral Nerve (the major pain-sensing nerve for spinal discs, spinal joints, and joint ligaments). The spinal discs’ borders are formed by the spinal discs, spinal bones (vertebral bodies) anteriorly, and spinal joints (facets) posteriorly. Arthritic or degenerative changes of spinal discs, vertebral bodies, and facet joints will result in the foramina’s narrowing.

Narrowed spinal foramina (vertebral foramina) are classified as stenotic. The term used to describe such conditions is called foraminal stenosis. The narrowed foramina (foraminal stenosis) compress the spinal nerves and vessels within the passageway (vertebral foramen).

Foraminotomy is the process of removing portions of the bony walls (pedicels of the top of facets or parts of vertebral bones), spinal discs, or both. Furthermore, the cutting of spinal discs and pedicles on top of facets may lead to instabilities. As a result, most patients who undergo a foraminotomy need additional surgical interventions such as a nucleoplasty, laminectomy, discectomy, or spinal fusion in the future.

Nucleoplasty: A Useless Invasive Spine Procedure With Far-Reaching Consequences!

Failed spine surgery definition infographic

A published research study in the Journal of Spine Disorders and Techniques reported nucleoplasty with or without intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) ineffective. The published study reported the impacts of nucleoplasty on nine patients. A total of 32 discs in these nine patients was treated with neuroplasty.

The authors reported the average patient pain level before nucleoplasty at 6.7 (on a Visual Analog Scale or VAS of 1-10, with 10-being excruciatingly severe). Nine months after nucleoplasty, pain levels were documented at 5.6, equating to a 10% decrease in pain. In other words, nucleoplasty has a failure rate of 100% because none of the nine patients were rendered pain-free. They only improved by 10% on average! As such, the authors concluded nucleoplasty with or without IDET as ineffective.

Nucleoplasty is a form of discectomy where portions of the spinal discs are removed from the inside of your spinal discs.

Percutaneous discectomy or nucleoplasty is a minimally invasive spine surgery that we adamantly oppose. Generally speaking, we oppose most surgical procedures performed in the absence of targeted non-surgical therapy. However, our opposition to nucleoplasty is higher, as it has failed to show effectiveness. Importantly, a sham or fake nucleoplasty was proven just as effective as the real one.

Are There Different Types Of Nucleoplasty For The Spine?

Well, there is the Bad One, and then there is the Nasty One. Joking aside, there are two main types of nucleoplasty:

  1. Nucleoplasty without intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET): the “Bad One.”
  2. Nucleoplasty with intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET): the “Nasty One.”

The process of inserting a catheter (introducer) at the center of the spinal disc is damaging, but cooking it through electrothermal means blows the mind. However, most troubling is the motive behind this rootless procedure’s continued use in light of its documented failures!

A randomized, double-blind study from the Department of Orthopedics at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia concluded no differences between the nucleoplasty with IDET and the sham IDET procedure. The study was published in the Spine Journal. It included 58 patients; of the 58 patients, 38 were treated through an actual IDET method, and 19 were treated with a fake or sham IDET method. The fake surgery (sham) was provided in much the same manner as the real one, except for the inner disc material’s cutting and heating. If your surgeon is recommending nucleoplasty, you need to read this research article first.

Six months after the procedures, there were no differences between the real and fake spine operations. As such, we, like many before us, consider nucleoplasty a useless intervention. In fact, you are better off in pain than having it done!

Your surgeon’s hope with a nucleoplasty is to remove the nerve pressure caused by spinal disc herniation or disc bulge, better known as a slipped disc or slip disc. Regardless of their hopes of clinical achievements, nucleoplasty renders your surgically treated disc unstable. The instabilities result from the cutting of the inner tissues of the spinal disc. Just because you have a disc herniation, you don’t need to cut it apart from the inside. Let CSC’s clinical teams fix your slipped disc without cutting.

spine surgeon with caption to visit a chiropractor Discectomy Is The Type Of Operation That Removes The Spinal Disc In part Or totally.

The spinal discs are the separators, connectors, shock absorbers, and stabilizers of the spine that provide mobility and weight-bearing. Poor posture, prolonged sitting, and repetitive traumatic events lead to degenerative changes that impact the health of spinal discs.

A degenerated spinal disc is a weak structure that is unable to provide efficient loadbearing and mobility. In time, a degenerated disc can succumb to stresses of daily life, causing the spinal disc to tear, bulge, herniate, or rupture. A bulging disc or a herniated disc is better known by its layperson term, slipped disc or slip disc.

As the spinal disc fibers protrude, bulge, or herniate beyond their normal boundary, they can push or pinch the spinal nerve or spinal cord.

Spine surgeons often recommend cutting portions or all of the discs in their entirety, depending on the severity of protrusions. Although there is sufficient data that reports the retraction of spinal discs through conservative means, surgeons still prefer to perform microdiscectomy or total discectomy of patients with slipped discs.

A partial discectomy usually accompanies laminectomy, facetectomy, and foraminotomy. Partial discectomy can be performed through the keyhole method and, as such, is considered by surgeons as minimally invasive spine surgery. A complete discectomy is usually accompanied by spinal fusion. Regardless of the type, discectomy is not a cure. Patients may continue to suffer from varying degrees of pain after discectomy. The cutting of spinal discs will lead to instability in the spinal segments adjacent to the surgical site. As such, patients are always advised to exhaust their conservative route before considering the surgical options.

Spinal Fusion: An intervention For Severe Cases Or For Failed laminectomy (laminotomy), Facetectomy, Foraminotomy, Nucleoplasty & Partial Discectomy.

Lumbar spine fusion

Spinal fusion is a surgical intervention that has been around for decades. It was the go-to method of spine surgery for most surgeons. In spinal fusion, the surgeon attempts to fuse spinal bones through implants, a bone graft, or a combination of the two. Fusion aims to stop mobility or motion in hypermobile, unstable, or excessively damaged segments. There are various methods of spinal fusion, including minimally invasive spine surgery.

Each type of method has its merits and disadvantages. In some patients, the surgical method is performed from the front, the back, or the front and back. It is often harvested from the patients’ hip or a synthetic source if the bone graft is used. In spinal fusion, a surgeon removes the facet joints and the spinal disc.

They may pack the void with spacers or a bone graft. Also, screws may be used to hold the implant and spacer (hardware) in place. The bone graft will join one or more spinal segments into a single solid mass. With fusion, there will always be a loss of mobility. Restricted motion is a common cause of additional stress on segments adjacent to the fused vertebrae.

Fusion is the leading cause of spinal instability in otherwise healthy spinal segments. With spinal fusion, healthier segments above or below the fused segments tend to degenerate at an alarming rate!

Spinal fusions are common in patients who continue to suffer from pain after laminectomy (laminotomy), facetectomy, foraminotomy, or partial discectomy. Our advice is if you have had surgery and failed to provide the relief you were seeking, visit one of our centers. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. In other words, if the first surgery failed, the second surgery is not going to make things better. It will only add more scar tissue to an already damaged area of the spine. Patients who opted for the spinal fusion of a degenerated or herniated segment will develop a similar condition in the sections above and below.

a surgeon with scalpel in hand How Long Does It Take To Recuperate From The Operation?

Recovery from spine surgery can take 3 to 4 months. However, three to four months is the minimum. For some patients, it can take six months or more. The recovery rate depends on your overall health, the skill of your surgeon, follow-up care, home care, and your activities of daily living. In short, you will need to give it some time. However, if your symptoms come back after surgery, you are not alone. It is common, occurring in more than 80% of cases. Complete recovery to a point where you are free of all symptoms is rare to non-existent. Unless, of course, the surgical intervention is for relatively minor conditions that would have done well with conservative treatments.

Always seek a second and third opinion before considering surgery. For best results, consult a second surgeon and a nonsurgical spine specialist before opting for spine surgery. We will be happy to provide this service for you.

How Successful Is The Back Operation? Let’s See What Research On The Spine Journal Reported.

Doctor holding spine x-ray

According to a published research article in the renowned Spine Journal, fusion causes spinal stenosis, disc herniations, and instabilities next or adjacent to the surgically fused segment. In other words, patients who were operated on through spine fusion surgery developed spinal disc problems in healthy segments before surgery.

Spine surgery (laminectomy, foraminotomy, discectomy, nucleoplasty, or spinal fusion) can reduce pain if successful, but it will also hamper your spine’s ability to function normally. In time, the operated-on segment or those near the surgical site will decay or degenerate faster. Spinal fusions have the highest rate of degenerative changes in the good ones. We have provided the recap of that research below:

All fifty-eight patients acquired spinal stenosis, disc herniation, or disturbance in a section next to previously asymptomatic or healthy spinal segments. In short, spinal fusions could result in damage and symptoms that arise from segments that are adjacent to the operated site.

Impact Of Cervical Laminectomy

Another published research on the clinical outcomes of 64 cervical laminectomy noted abnormal changes in spinal curvatures in 36% of patients. Also, 14% of the patient cases studied resulted in reversed cervical curvatures or kyphotic curves two years post-surgery. Furthermore, two of the 64 patients needed additional surgeries. Additional surgeries were needed two years following the first surgery to address the instabilities caused by laminectomy.

Unfortunately, this study did not elaborate on the level of pain, function, symptoms, or quality of life following surgery. Also, the study only reviewed cases 2-years post-surgical intervention. We are confident that had they examined patient cases at five years and seven years (post-surgical study), the reported statistics would undoubtedly be much higher among those needing a second or even a third operative procedure. Nonetheless, from the limited information gathered, one could persuasively argue that laminectomy has a success rate of 50%.

The most astonishing report on the long-term success or outcomes of a lumbar fusion surgery comes from research conducted by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation records. We have provided a link to your review’s abstract of a historical cohort on surgical spinal fusion.

Let’s Look At Facts Explaining Why Spine Operations Fails?

illustration of what happens after laminectomy

A failed spine surgery is when patients experience reemergence of their back pain or symptoms after spine surgery. The recurrence of symptoms is the result of multiple factors. Symptoms of pain reemerge because of accelerated degenerative changes brought forth by the biomechanical factors from the spinal column post-surgical intervention.

Back surgery always leads to biomechanical changes. These changes will impact load-bearing activities at surgical segments as well as sections adjacent to the surgical vertebra.

These biomechanical changes are present with even the most minor of procedures. In other words, it is present in minimally invasive procedures as well as in major spine procedures such as spinal fusion. However, the instabilities associated with spinal fusions are significantly higher when compared to a laminectomy, foraminotomy, facetectomy, or partial discectomy (forms of minimally invasive spine surgery).

Biomechanical changes lead to accelerating degenerative changes in spinal discs, facet joints, and even the soft tissues (spinal muscles and ligaments).

Even the most minimal intervention will hamper spinal muscles and ligaments’ function, as they are often directly traumatized during spine surgery. The combined effects of these biomechanical factors are the leading causes of foraminal stenosis, canal stenosis, disc herniations, bone spurs at the operated-on spinal segments, and healthy spinal segments near the operated-on vertebra.

Although the minimally invasive procedures are less intrusive, they are not considered free of instabilities. As such, we recommend all spine patients thoroughly exhaust conservative management of their spine before opting for surgical intervention, regardless of the degree of invasiveness.

European Spine Jurnal on Spine Surgery

An article in the European Spine Journal reported the failure rate of eliminating patient pain or symptoms through invasive spinal decompression methods by experienced surgeons at 90% two months after the operation. The failure rate drops to 75% after five years with painkillers (medication).

European Spine Jurnal on Spine Surgery

The European Spine Journal published research on the five-year outcome of lumbar surgical decompression performed on 149 patients by four experienced spine surgeons. This study concentrated on spinal decompression surgeries performed through a laminectomy, foraminotomy, facetectomy, or partial discectomy.

The authors reported that 90% of patients still complained of a varying degree of leg pain two months after surgery. After five years, 75% continued to live with pain even though they took various nerve and pain-killing medications. Only 25% of patients reported an absence of leg pain five years following surgical intervention.

Also, 24% of patients underwent a second surgery (spinal fusion). Some even went through a third surgical intervention.

What is interesting is the fact that this research reported the surgical intervention as successful. At the same time, their published data revealed leg pain in 90% of the operated patients two months after surgery. Some believe that they would be free of pain once they have opted for the minimally invasive spine surgery procedure. This research contradicts that point. Also, the researcher reported that 40% of the 149 patients continued to rely on pain medication even 5 years after the surgical intervention.

Any decrease in patients’ symptoms backed the author’s claims of surgical successes. In other words, any evidence of improvement was deemed as the success achieved. You can download and read this research below:

Spine Fusion Failure Was Related To Permanent Disabilities In 74% Of Workers In The U.S. State Of Ohio.

Surgeon holding spine model

Researchers examined the clinical outcomes of 1,450 patients using the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation database. The researchers specifically targeted patients with a diagnosis of disc degeneration, disc herniation, or radiculopathy. Let’s define what radiculopathy is first.

Radiculopathy is pain or discomfort that runs down one or both limbs due to nerve compression or nerve damage. Patients complaining of radiculopathy may experience pain, tingling (pins and needles), burning sensations, and weakness in one or both limbs.

Those with neck-related radiculopathy may experience symptoms in the upper and lower extremities. Radiculopathy involving the lower back mainly impacts the lower buttocks and legs.

Now, let’s get back to the research article. Researchers divided the database into two equal groups, surgical and non-surgical. It is important to note that both groups had patients who suffered from the same diagnosis and severity. In short, of the 1,450 cases, 750 were operative patients, and the remaining 750 received non-invasive treatment. The researcher compared the clinical outcomes in each group after two years. Keep in mind that patients in both groups had identical complaints. Although they were similar, the recovery and overall success were not the same.

Only 26% of the injured workers that were operated on returned to work. The remaining 74% of fusion patients were considered medically disabled and as such, unfit to continue their work-related activities.

The published statistics equate to a resounding failure rate of 74% for surgical patients. Had the surgery been successful, surely the patients would have returned to work! Now, let’s see how the non-surgically treated patients did. The non-surgical group got targeted physical therapy (physiotherapy) methods.

Of the 750 physiotherapy patients, 67% returned to work within two years. The study offers clear evidence that spine surgery may not allow the patient to return to an active life post-surgery. Additionally, the research establishes the impact of clinically targeted physiotherapy methods as opposed to surgery.

Why Should You Seek A Second Opinion From A Non-Surgical Provider When Your Surgeon Recommends A Procedure?

surgeon getting ready to cut with scalpel

We live in a world where the opinions and recommendations of neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons are not questioned. Simply put, when spine surgeons recommend surgery, patients follow their advice.

There is nothing wrong with putting your trust in the doctors and surgeons who treat you. After all, you willingly went seeking their professional opinion.

But, as with any medical recommendation, you should always seek a second and even third option in non-life-threatening situations. Orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons spend years learning surgical methods for the spine.

They are physicians that specialize in spine surgery. In short, their research, training, and continuing education are all concentrated on perfecting their surgical skills and knowledge. But, by their surgical background, little time is spent on non-surgical means. As such, most are unaware of recent developments in the targeted non-surgical treatment of the spine.

We recommend getting a surgical second opinion and a non-surgical second opinion. So, get a non-surgical second opinion from chiropractors and physiotherapists that specialize in targeted research-based clinical methods of spine care. In short, visit our center. Our experts have provided non-surgical spine care at an unparalleled level of success to thousands. We have helped even those that have had failed surgical interventions.

Why Should You Seek Out Second Opinions From Chiropractors When The Surgeon Has Recommended An Operation For The Spine?

Chiropractor assessing MRI film

A spine surgeon’s clinical focus is on surgical interventions. A chiropractor’s focus is entirely dedicated to non-surgical methods. Doctors of chiropractic medicine with focused non-surgical spine treatment treat spine-related conditions daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. In short, a highly experienced clinical chiropractor is the best individual to visit for non-surgical second opinions.

Chiropractors and physical therapists or physiotherapists have been treating the spine for over a century. For obvious reasons, a surgeon’s education and training are always focused on surgical methods of treatment. Likewise, a chiropractor or physiotherapist (physical therapist) spends years learning non-surgical methods. However, it must be said that surgeons, chiropractors, and physiotherapists may hold degrees but differ. Some surgeons excel more than others!

The same holds for chiropractors and physiotherapists. So, care must be taken when choosing one. Please don’t shy away or be afraid to ask your neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeon, and doctor of chiropractic or physiotherapist about their education, training, expertise, and experience.

Ask them about their personal experiences in treating similar conditions and results achieved. Question them on surgical and non-surgical methods. Ask them about the time they spend researching surgical and non-surgical techniques of spine care. Don’t be afraid; it is your spine, health, and long-term well-being at stake.

So, speak up and get as much information from each specialty about your options. Doing so will enable you to make a better-informed decision.

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Therapy (NSD Therapy®) Is The Best Alternative To Neck Or Back Operations

NSD Therapy program and methods

NSD Therapy® is the best alternative to spine surgery. It is a multi-faceted spine care system rendered by research-based chiropractors, and clinical physiotherapy is through manual and advanced spine-specific technologies. If your surgeon is recommending spine surgery, NSD Therapy® can help. Visit us today to discover the best alternative to spine surgery.

Our clinical teams of Chiropractors and Physiotherapists use spine-specific technology such as the RxDecom® to fix and repair the damage inside. Best of all, the care you get from us is non-invasive. In other words, needles, injections, or surgery in not need to fix or repair your spine. We have treated thousands of slipped disc, neck pain, and back pain patients successfully. In fact, we have even helped many with failed spine surgery. So, if your surgeon is recommending minimally invasive procedures or spinal fusions, consult us.

The chances of us being able to help your recovery without surgery are significantly higher compared to others. We are the only NSD Therapy® provider in Malaysia. Our first NSD Therapy® center was launched in Bukit Damansara (Kuala Lumpur). We now offer NSD Therapy® at several locations. You may contact our main office at 03 2093 1000 to obtain more information about our location or NSD Therapy®. Call us today to discover effective, targeted non-invasive treatments as an alternative to invasive and minimally invasive spine surgery in Malaysia.

We hope you found our article about spine surgery risks, analysis & alternatives care options and helpful. For more information on how to get better without having spine surgery, please contact one of our centers.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Christopher

    I’m a paraplegic. I injured my spine 4 years ago. I have surgical instruments in L4 and T6.

    1. Jajendren Vereya

      Dear Christopher,

      We need a bit more information before we could give advice.

      What was the diagnosis before the surgical intervention? Did you have one or multiple surgeries?
      When did the paralysis occur? Was it rapid onset or progressive in nature?
      What types of surgical intervention did you have for the injuries sustained four years ago?

      We understand that you may not want to post personal information on the blog. If you wish, please email us directly ([email protected]). You can post here as well, but others will be able to read your comments as well. It might be better to email us your history and concerns that you have. We will need to review the required information before giving you advice about the available alternatives.

  2. Hem Dutt

    PIVD L4 L5 nerve compression on both sides for the last 5 years.

    1. Yama Zafer, D.C.


      Thank you for sharing your situation regarding PIVD at L4-L5 with nerve compression affecting both legs for the past five years. Given that you posted this comment on our blog post titled “All About Surgery,” it appears you might be considering surgical options as a solution to your ongoing discomfort.

      While surgery can be an effective intervention for severe cases of nerve compression, I strongly recommend exploring comprehensive conservative treatment approaches before proceeding with surgery. At CSC, we specialize in a multi-disciplinary approach that integrates chiropractic care, physiotherapy, and focused rehabilitation. This combination has been successful in alleviating symptoms similar to yours and, in some instances, we have even been able to reverse the effects of a protruded intervertebral disc by as much as 90% without the need for invasive procedures.

      Our conservative treatment methods aim to relieve nerve compression naturally, improve spinal alignment, and strengthen the supporting musculature. These non-surgical approaches are designed to address the root causes of pain and dysfunction, providing lasting relief and potentially reducing the need for surgery. Many patients find significant improvement in their symptoms and overall spinal health through these treatments.

      Before making a decision about surgery, I encourage you to explore all conservative options available. If you are interested in a detailed evaluation to see if our integrative approach could be effective for your condition, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us via WhatsApp at +(60)17-269-1873 or visit our center to discuss your condition in more detail.

      We’re here to help you explore every possible avenue for relief and recovery, ensuring that surgery is considered only after all other treatments have been thoroughly pursued.

      Best regards,

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