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How useful are surgeries for back pain?
Many people in the western world suffer from back pain. Those affected often go to the doctor and are surprised if the treatment is unsuccessful and the back pain persists. Researchers have now found that back pain in people often has no obvious cause and that doctors should stop giving people the impression that they can cure the back pain.
The University of Hertfordshire and Curtin University scientists found in their current research that the majority of treatments for back pain seem to be unnecessary because they are unsuccessful. Those affected are often advised to do so by doctors. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "British Journal of Sports Medicine".
Not every pain can be cured
Doctors often use the x-rays of changes, such as the degeneration of the spinal discs, to explain back pain. However, such changes are also common in people without pain, argues study author Professor Peter O’Sullivan from Curtin University. It is a myth that the stubborn musculoskeletal pain can be cured without an obvious cause, the professor continues.
Patients must be honestly informed about back pain
Doctors, physiotherapists and all medical professionals should be much more honest with people with back pain when it comes to what they do as health professionals for those affected and what results the treatments can really achieve. Changes that are often shown in x-rays can also be seen in people who do not experience pain at all. This strongly suggests that the symptoms or pain that those affected experience do not come from the observed changes, the doctors explain.
Posture Cause of Back Pain?
This would mean that many people undergo surgery on structures such as tendons, cartilage and bones that are not the cause of their symptoms, says study author Professor Lewis from the University of Hertfordshire. Another example is when a person is informed that the symptoms are related to poor posture. Here, too, most of the evidence refutes the claim that certain postures are a cause of pain. Such statements wrongly believe many patients that their bodies are weak and damaged. As a result, they often avoid certain movements and activities or may want to have an operation to solve their problem, the experts explain.
Hundreds of thousands of operations don't fix the problem
Every year there are hundreds of thousands (if not more) of surgeries worldwide that don't fix the cause of the problems, reports Professor Lewis. This also applies to people who receive treatments to improve their posture. Manipulation of the joints or treatments to improve core stability for back pain are also often unsuccessful. People with trauma, cancer, or loss of strength or feeling in their legs should see a doctor to make sure there is no serious condition. However, a scan or an X-ray does not always lead to the most sensible and quickest solution to the problem, say the doctors.
How do I keep my back healthy?
What keeps your back healthy are exercise, regular activity, good sleeping habits and a healthy body weight, the experts explain. It is therefore unhealthy for the back if movement and activity are avoided. Make sure you maintain a normal body weight, advises Professor Lewis. Scans and X-rays are often not the right solution because everyone over the age of 60 suffers from degeneration. This is comparable to wrinkles on the skin and part of a natural aging process, the researcher adds. Perform gentle stretches to keep your back mobile, exercise regularly, just keep a healthy lifestyle in general, the scientists advise.
Get advice from a professional
As with other chronic diseases, there is no magical cure for persistent and disabling musculoskeletal pain, the doctors explain. This should also be made clear to those affected. If we deal more honestly with the type of treatment and the type of care that is currently offered, the best results can be achieved for those affected, the authors of the study add. If you have back pain, it is always advisable to see a doctor. Various factors can affect the amount of movement and activity that an individual can complete. You should therefore always speak to a specialist to determine the best type of treatment and the right amount of exercise, the experts advise. (as)