Back Surgery Study Results
Based on a study of Ohio Workers Compensation records
Are you thinking about having a back surgery because of a herniated or degenerated disc stenosis, sciatica or facet syndrome? Many times with these conditions, surgery becomes a real option. If that is the case for you, then a study published in the August 2010 issue of Spine periodical has some great information you will want to take into consideration before making this important and potentially life changing decision.
In an incredibly large study, researchers analyzed the records of 1,450 patients who were in the workers compensation program in the State of Ohio. The reason the size of the study is important is because the larger the study, the more accurate the results.
Who Was Studied?
All of the patients had similar problems. They all had been diagnosed with herniated discs which were resulting in pain in their legs and other parts of their body. One half of the patients in the study decided to have surgery for their problem, the other half did not. These patients were followed for a period of 2 years so see what happened to them after they made the decision to have surgery or not. The results will be very interesting to you. They actually shocked me.
Two years after the surgery decision, only 26% of the patients who decided to undergo surgery had returned to work however, 67% of the non-surgical patients were already back at work by the two-year mark. This means you have a 257% better chance of returning to work if you avoid surgery.
Another startling fact is that of the people who had surgery, almost 30% of them underwent a second surgery within that 2 year period of time they were studied.
The next aspect the researchers studied is whether after 2 years the patients were still on any strong pain killers that could become addictive. The researchers noted that 30% of the patients were already taking opioid type drugs before the surgery. After surgery 41% more of the patients were on daily opioid pain killer doses for a total of 71% of the surgery patients taking major drugs daily. This means if you are considering surgery to decrease pain.
The final item studied was the average number of days missed from work. The patients who had surgery averaged 1140 days off of work and the patients who chose not have surgery missed an average of only 316 days.
The conclusion of this study is that back surgery with a diagnosis of disc degeneration, disc herniation and or radiculopathy in a Workers Comp. setting is associated with significant increase in disability, opiate use, prolonged work loss, and poor return to work status.
It should be noted that results will vary and anyone may have different results