Surgery may be best for certain back conditions

May 18, 2012 By Angela Koenig

Orthopedic spine surgery may be more effective than non-surgical treatment for low back disorders.

According to the latest data from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, low back injuries accounted for nearly 1.5 million in 2006.  
There has long been debate over ideal treatment strategies for low back pain and associated leg pain in patients with degenerative spinal disorders.

UC Health orthopedic surgeon Ferhan Asghar, MD, along with Alan Hilibrand, MD, of Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania, reviewed results from the Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT) to determine its impact on decision-making in for common low back conditions. Their paper was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 
They found that both nonsurgical and surgical interventions had benefits for patients, but provided better results. Furthermore, surgical fared better, even though their initial condition was worse.

"You can think of it like blood pressure,” says Asghar. "If you have high blood pressure and it starts around 200, you can take ‘drug A’ to bring it down to 180. That’s an improvement, right? However, if you take ‘drug B’ and it brings it down to 145, which one is better?

"Both surgical and nonsurgical treatments have their benefits, so nonsurgical treatment should be initiated first. When a patient has persistent symptoms, surgery is the next option.” 

Asghar stresses the importance of making treatment decisions based on research and that the SPORT study is some of the best data gathered to aid in decisions between surgical and nonsurgical interventions.  

Explore further: Researchers find epidural steroid injections do not benefit spine patients

Related Stories

Recommended for you

International study proves old blood is as good as new

October 24, 2016

It's been long thought that when blood transfusions are needed, it may be best to use the freshest blood, but McMaster University researchers have led a large international study proving that it is not so.

Study finds mixed results for use of mesh for hernia repair

October 18, 2016

Among patients undergoing incisional hernia repair, the use of mesh to reinforce the repair was associated with a lower risk of hernia recurrence over 5 years compared with when mesh was not used, although with long-term ...

Traditional surgery style worthwhile, says piles trial

October 10, 2016

Results of a five year trial on haemorrhoids (commonly known as piles), jointly sponsored by NHS Highland and the University of Aberdeen, have this week been published in The Lancet, one of the world's oldest and best known ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.