Surgery good for back pain

Surgery is better than other methods of curing common back pain, such as sciatica and slipped disc, according to new research.

Two significant studies, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that surgery was up to twice as effective as non-surgical procedures in curing patients.

Researchers at the Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire studied more than 607 patients around the US who had reported at least 12 weeks of pain from a slipped disc (degenerative spondylolisthesis, or DS).

Their history was recorded for two years; 372 of the subjects had surgery, and 235 were treated with physical therapy, steroids, and other drugs.

At the end of two years, those who had undergone operations reported much better results, in movement and lack of pain, than those who had other treatments.

Study leader Dr James Weinstein said: "This trial shows there is clearly a greater benefit or surgical versus non-surgical treatment, but non-surgical is also an option."

In the second study, the relative benefits of surgery and non-surgery for sciatica were assessed. Dutch researchers based in Leiden studied 238 sciatica sufferers.

The 180 patients who underwent microdiscsectomy, to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, reported a rapid recovery and no more leg pain. But in this case, after a year the recovery rate between the surgery patients and those who took other therapies was not so great.

The Leiden team said the outcomes of the two groups after a year were very similar, but pain relief had been much faster in the surgery group.


laura - 29/10/2008 13:23

I am in the process of getting back surgery for stenoise L 5. is recovery time long and how good are results or improvement in mobility?

laura - 10/11/2008 15:56

had surgery for stenoise L5. how good is the results or how good is recovery to mobile with no pain?

sammi - 23/02/2009 10:05

my husband has been suffering with a bulging disc and chronic 24/7 pain on and off for at least five years. surgeon refuses to operate, they won't admit him for controlled pain relief.

what do we do where do we go? can anyone advise? is there a way around this?

boy - 04/03/2009 22:46

Hi there I had sugery twice on my back - the L4 and L5. The last op was 5 years ago. I did not work this seven years because of it. It's a struggle to do anything at this present day I have arthritis in lower back because of the surgery. I'm in constant pain and I'm taking painkillers everyday just to try and exist. I would not recommend back surgery to anyone. My personal opinion is that the doc's dont know enough about the back. 

sammi - 06/03/2009 20:43

hi boy

thanks for your reply. can i ask was it an orthopaedic surgeon or a nuero surgeon that done the operation. i feel for your condition. people just don't realise how bad it is until they live with it. my husband so drugged up on painkillers he's virtually a vegetable.

we do know of a few people that have had surgery which was succesfull, but also we've heard stories like yours that were not.

i think his is an L5 also. he went to see a nuero surgeon and while i wasn't there, he told me it was all put onto a disc and then brought up on a computer to show every angle. i think the procedure is a diskectomy.

to be honest, he's so crippled with this and he's been so bad over the years i think he'd let me take a knife to him if he thought there was some hope of relief.

as it is, he can't work. most of the time he can't walk and the pain is awful. at the moment he's been placed in a hospital for pain relief ( thank god - long story ) and they have an ambulance booked to take him to dublin next week for the big day.

have you looked at the post for chronic pain relief, ther's a bit on it about a place in tallaght that seems to be doing good thing's for chronic pain sufferers.

pain32 - 20/05/2009 20:03

hi, i would like to find out if anyone had back surgery and how it went ok, like how much pain were they in before they got it, and were was the pain. and how much pain there in now, and how long it took to get over it. im 32 and my lower and upper back have pain its 2 sliped feels like my life is over i can work, i used to go to the gym 4 times a week, now all i do is cry with the pain. it feels like my life is over. i cant even eat with the pain!

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