Is surgery usually required for disc herniations?
No. Interestingly, we were the pioneers who first discovered through our scientific research that disc herniations rarely require surgery. Our peer reviewed scientific publications have been corroborated by many other centers around the world. Our data demonstrated that disc herniations of the lumbar region (low back) can be treated without surgery greater than 90% of the time, and herniations in the cervical region (neck) can be treated over 80% of the time non-surgically. Despite this compelling scientific data, most surgeons continue to recommend early surgical intervention for this treatable condition. Therefore, be certain to obtain a second opinion before pursuing any spine surgery.
I have been told I should have a spinal fusion, what are my options?
Spinal fusion is a risky surgery, with poor outcome results.
Spinal fusion for back pain that is not associated with a fracture, cancer or severe scoliosis is rarely if ever indicated. Based upon published scientific studies only 60% of fusion patients obtain even partial pain relief. In addition, the complication rates are high and the need for subsequent surgery within 5 years following the original surgery occurs at a rate of 10-20%.
Can exercise really prevent back pain?
Yes. Scientific studies clearly validate that specific spine stabilizing exercises can be an effective treatment for a variety of spinal conditions, and can help prevent recurrences.
Additionally, education regarding posture and body mechanics has been shown to reduce work place injuries and disability.
Is disc replacement a viable option for me?
In the future disc replacement may be shown to be beneficial. At this time the technology is experimental, cumbersome and has potential for serious complications. We advise our patients to avoid fusion surgery and hold off on disc replacement until the technology is proven to be safe and effective. We predict that in the next 5 years disc replacement may be a viable option for certain severe chronic degenerative conditions. Meanwhile, do not be misled by media reports and inflated marketing claims.
Is acupuncture beneficial in the treatment of spinal pain?
Yes. Published peer reviewed scientific data support the use of acupuncture for the treatment of spinal pain. We have been performing acupuncture for over 25 years with great success. Long before “complimentary” medicine became fashionable, this group has used acupuncture and other non-traditional eastern techniques to improve patient’s health.
Does yoga and Pilates play a role in my treatment plan?
Yes. We have been using yoga, pilates, feldenkrais techniques and tai chi training for over 25 years in our practice. We incorporate many different forms of exercise and balance training to improve our patient’s spinal performance and health.