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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

What is the Cost of Herniated Disc Surgery?

Posted by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer D.C. on Fri, May 09, 2014 @ 11:28 AM

herniated discs surgeryBack problems are one of the most common medical conditions Americans face in their day to day lives. It keeps them from going to work, it prevents engagement in life-saving physical activity, and it causes an uptick in surgeries and medications that only cover up the problem. But is surgery for back pain really necessary? We tend to believe that the cost of herniated disc surgery has been inflated for the benefit of surgeons, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry rather than for those suffering with back pain.


As back pain specialists, we want you to rethink your approach to finally solving your ongoing back problems. Many Americans seek the help of mainstream doctors for their back pain who quickly resort to surgery and drugs. The problem with this approach is that it often does little to nothing to solve the problem. Even after a series of surgeries, many back pain sufferers still find that they have to manage their pain with pharmaceutical drugs. Dr. Deyo, MD, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University has stated that of the more than 500,000 disc surgeries performed every year, he would label about 90% of them as ineffective and unnecessary. His research shows that Americans are 40% more likely to get surgery for their back pain than other countries. This percentage is congruent with the number of back surgeons who enter the profession every year. 

treating chronic back pain risks of surgery CTA

One of the more popular surgeries for chronic back pain is the lumbar fusion. It is often prescribed for patients with disc degeneration, a herniated disc, or radiculopathy. Dr. Trang Nguyen, a researcher from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, wanted to show just how ineffective surgery can be for people with back pain. He and a team of researchers reviewed 1,450 patient records from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation database in 2010. Half of these workers had surgery, while the other half did not. What Dr. Nguyen found was that after a 2 year period, only 26% of workers who received surgery was able to return to work. Of those who did not have surgery, 67% were able to return to work during this same time period. What was most astounding about the study was that there was a 41% increase in the use of pain killers, even 2 years after the surgery. 76% were still using opioid drugs for pain relief.


The physical and financial cost of herniated disc surgery is not worth the risk to your health and well being. The Illinois Back Institute does not believe in the use of drugs or surgery for your back pain. We, instead, gather the knowledge gathered in the field of chiropractics and physical therapy in a treatment called Functional Disc Rehydration. We invite you to learn more about how the cost of herniated disc surgery can affect your life and to decide if it is worth it.

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