Surgery: Is it always the best option?

Surgery: Is it always the best option?

Have you ever been told that you need a spinal fusion? What about knee surgery?

Did you know that there is no regulatory body for surgery? The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that the drugs we take are safe and effective, but surgical procedures are not regulated in this way. Crazy, right?

Generally, surgeries are tested via clinical trials. In these clinical trials, for example, some patients would be randomly assigned to have the surgery and some would not. Sadly, the results of these clinical trials are not always taken into consideration. It is ultimately up to the medical practice and the surgeons whether or not they would recommend their patients to have the surgery.

Spinal fusions are a great example of this. Tested in four different clinical trials, spinal fusions were actually found to be no more effective at relieving pain than non-surgical alternatives such as physical therapy and chiropractic (1). Yet, the rate of spinal fusion surgeries has increased over the years!

Some insurance companies no longer cover spinal fusions, which has recently decreased the rate of these surgeries being performed; however, the rate should be decreasing because the clinical trials found no benefits, not because insurance companies won’t pay for it anymore. It makes you beg the question, how many other surgeries are out there that fall into this category?

So, as a person with no surgical expertise, how are you supposed to decide whether or not to have surgery?

That’s a tough one. It starts, however, by getting the full picture. Talk to your medical professional and ask questions! Probe them ask about the research behind the surgery, the success rates, alternatives to the surgery, the success rate for the alternatives, etc. On top of that, it never hurts to get second and third opinions. The ultimate decision, whether or not to have surgery, is up to you. Take control of your options and really think about it!

Here is a wonderful article by the New York Times on this topic. Please take some time to read it today, especially if surgery is on the table.[

  • Surgery is not regulated by a governing body. It is up to the medical practice whether or not they will perform certain surgeries.
  • Some medical practices still perform surgeries (like spinal fusion), despite evidence from clinical trials that show these surgeries are not beneficial.
  • Alternative options, such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and prescribed exercises, are often a better option than surgery.
  • Patients should always be told all of the options. It is ultimately up to the patient to choose which method they prefer.

What can Sport and Spine Rehab do to help?

[At Sport and Spine Rehab, our doctors will perform a full examination on your first appointment (including x-rays onsite, if needed). From this examination, our doctors will provide you with all of the best options. We will take the time to sit down and talk with you in order to answer all of your questions–remember, you need the full picture! From manual therapy to rehabilitative exercises, our clinics offer a world-class alternative to surgery.

Sometimes, surgery is truly needed. We will work closely with your doctor or surgeon in order to provide you with the best care–whether that means helping you with pre-operation exercises or post-op rehabilitation.

Are you looking for a go-to place for excellent care and great conversation?

Don’t hesitate to contact us! Our scheduling team is available, Monday through Friday, 7am to 6pm.

Check out which of our 6 locations is closest to you! This content is for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to furnish medical advice to anyone. Any diagnosis, treatment or care of a patient should be discussed with a physician.


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