SALEM, Ore., March 14, 2013 ― It depends on the type of health care provider – that is, a surgeon or a doctor of chiropractic – you see first, whether you will get back surgery or an alternative form of care. A recent study came up with several predictive variables.
The study authors, who note that “there is little evidence spine surgery is associated with improved population outcomes, yet surgery rates have increased dramatically since the 1990s,” found that Washington state workers with an occupational back injury who visited a surgeon (orthopedic, neuro or general) first were significantly more likely to receive spine surgery within three years (42.7 percent of workers) than workers whose first visit was to a doctor of chiropractic (only 1.5 percent of workers). This association held true even when controlling for injury severity and other measures.
The Mayo clinic says that back surgery is needed in only a small percentage of cases, nor does it help every type of back problem.
Back pain stands at number eight on the Top Ten list of diseases in America. According to Forbes.com, we spend over $40 billion annually for treatment costs alone. Other estimates that include disability, work loss and total indirect costs put the cost of back pain at between $100 and $200 billion per year. Back pain sent over 3 million people to emergency rooms in 2008 at a cost of $9.5 billion, making it the ninth most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals.
What accounts for these staggering costs? We know one thing: Doctors and hospitals are making huge profits of unsuspecting patients who are not told there may be better and cheaper ways to solve their back pain with chiropractic care or other non-invasive methods.
Back surgeries are some of the most expensive procedures. These costs do not include hospitalization, imaging, drugs or medications. Here are some prices off the back surgery menu:
- Anterior cervical fusion: $44,000
- Decompression surgery: $24,000
- Lumbar spinal fusion: $34,500
Add other surgical costs, medications, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), rehabilitation and disability, and your average spine surgery case approaches $100,000 or more. The direct costs may reach as high as $169,000 for a lumbar fusion and $112,000 for a cervical fusion.
Fortune 500 companies spend over $500 million a year on avoidable back surgeries for their workers. They lose as much as $1.5 billion in indirect costs associated with these procedures in the form of missed work and lost productivity, according to a two-year study by Consumer’s Medical Resource (CMR).
An alternative for back care you may not be advised about is far less expensive, has only a 1.5 percent chance of ending up in surgery, offers minimal recovery time, is very safe, and lowers the chances of addictive medications. It’s chiropractic.
Look up the study, “Back Surgery: A Costly Fortune 500 Burden.
Dr Peter Lind practices metabolic and neurologic chiropractic in his wellness clinic in Salem, Oregon. USA. He is the author of 3 books on health, one novel, and hundreds of wellness articles. His clinical specialty is in physical, nutritional, and emotional stress.
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