Hundreds of thousands of people with lower back pain across the globe are being harmed, not helped, by the steroid injections, fusion surgery, kyphoplasty, and dangerous opioid drugs they are given, according to a major new report published recently in the prestigious journal The Lancet.
Research evidence shows that fusing the discs in the spine, inserting artificial discs or giving spinal injections does not usually help. Bed rest and staying off work may actually make the back pain worse.
Australia and the Netherlands are looking at stopping to pay for some invasive back surgery treatments.
The experts recommended:
These potential solutions include focused strategies to implement best practice, the redesign of clinical pathways, integrated health and occupational interventions to reduce work disability, changes in compensation and disability claims policies, and public health and prevention strategies.
Be careful what you ask for. If you have back pain, see your primary care doctor or nurse. Majority of cases will improve and not need anything more than physical therapy and non-opioid meds.
Your doctor should look for concerning “Red Flags” such as fever, weight loss, cancer, bowel or bladder changes, weakness of legs, etc.
MRI of the spine is generally not necessary in majority of patients. These MRI often show incidental arthritis, disc problem, spinal stenosis, that may prompt and “justify” more aggressive procedures and invasive surgeries.
Experts say that it maybe worthwhile to get a second opinion before undergoing spine surgery for chronic back pain.