Surgery For Neck Pain – Inevitable? | Chiropractor Mechanicsville

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Surgery For Neck Pain – Are You Just Postponing The Inevitable?

Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Care – What Do Studies Show?

In a 2015 study addressing this very question, the authors compared a non-surgical physical therapy approach using neck-specific general exercises, neck pain relief, coping strategies, and improving self-management strategies versus surgery (ACDF – anterior cervical decompression and fusion) neck pain, neck surgery, cervical fusion, chiropractorwith post-surgical physical therapy.  Twelve months following the conclusion of treatment, they found 87% of the 31 patients in the surgical group reported a “better/much better” result compared with 62% of the 32 patients in the non-surgical group.  However, at the two-year point, the satisfaction numbers were 81% (surgical) and 69% (non-surgical).  The study’s “conclusion” states that a structured NON-SURGICAL treatment approach “…should be tried before surgery is chosen.”

More importantly, at the one year point, 62% of those treated WITHOUT surgery reported a “better/much better” result, which improved to 69% by year two, while those receiving surgery DROPPED from 87% to 81% after two years.  It would be interesting to see this split at three, four, and five-year time-points, as it is well known that degeneration occurs more rapidly above and below a fusion due to the increased bio-mechanical load.  This can lead to the need for further treatment.

Can Chiropractic Care Help Herniated Cervical Disks?

Image result for guidelines for treatment of neck painA very similar 2013 study followed 50 patients with herniated cervical disks and arm pain who received chiropractic treatment.
After two weeks of care, 55.3% reported they were “better” or “much better.”   After one month, 68.9% reported improvement and the percentage increased to 85.7% after three months.

The good news is that guidelines for treating neck pain that radiates into an arm recommended that patients undergo a course of “conservative” (non-surgical) care FIRST before progressing to surgical care.  In fact, many guidelines DON’T even recommend MRI or EMG/NCV initially unless the result from the non-surgical care is not satisfactory, usually by the four-to-six week point into treatment.

These studies show that patients with neck pain and arm pain (most commonly caused by herniated disks) are frequently successfully managed WITHOUT SURGERY and hence, this approach should be tried FIRST and surgery be reserved ONLY to the non-responders.

Next Month Sneak Peak:  Neck Pain Dangers – When To Wait And When To Get Help

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If you missed last month’s blog post, click here:  The #1 Neck Pain Exercise – Proven Relief

Dr. Dana Williamson Chiropractor MechanicsvilleDr. Dana Williamson is a chiropractor who has been helping relieve neck pain and back pain of the residents of Mechanicsville, Richmond, Hanover, Henrico, and Glen Allen since 2001.

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