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Is Back Surgery being abused ? The debate rages on

Posted Jun 02 2009 4:34pm

San Francisco -Every year over $25 billion dollars is spent on medical treatment for back pain, according to Duke University researchers. Then, add on another $25 billion for lost wages and Workers Compensation claims. A growing share of these dollars are spent on surgical procedures such as spinal fusion, which has a very questionable outcome.  

Despite the uncertainty about how effective the treatment is for patients with more run-of-the-mill lower back pain, the number of fusion surgeries rose 127% from 1997 to 2004, to more than 303,000, data from the Agency for health care Research and Quality show. This is crazy . The problem is, patients want a quick fix and want to be able to get back to a more normal lifestyle.

I think some of these dollars would be better spent on large scale education programs on spinal care,  prevention,  and wellness. There is enough evidence that these sorts of programs empower patients to take better care of their spines resulting in fewer episodes of back pain and certainly less spinal surgeries. 

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