Writing as a chiropractor it may seem a little out of the ordinary to discuss low back pain from the perspective of spinal surgery. Some may see chiropractic and surgery as competing entities for the treatment of spinal conditions. The truth is that both treatments have an important place in management of low back pain. Even as a Chiropractor and a passionate supporter or the art, science, and philosophy of Chiropractic I am aware that there are times when back and or leg pain is best to be managed by surgical procedures. To determine what management is appropriate for each individual case it is important to review recent research on topic. One recent study released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information brings treatment protocols into perspective, particularly when comparing initial treatment of low back pain. In this study over 1800 workers were fallowed for 3 years after an initial complaint of a back injury. Those who first visited a back surgeon had a 42.7% chance to receive back surgery as a treatment for back pain. On the other hand only 1.5% of patients who saw a chiropractor first received back surgery in the three year fallow up.1 This study suggests that many patients are receiving back surgeries that may have otherwise not needed them if they first utilized conservative chiropractic care. This study confirms a strong belief that I as well as several of the most successful and conservative neurosurgeons we have worked with in the past already knew. That is that conservative care; especially chiropractic care is nearly always the best and first line of defense for low back pain. Further research submitted in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that for low back pain patients’ chiropractors receive the greatest satisfactions rates by patients when compared to primary care providers and orthopedist.2 So while surgery certainly has its place in the treatment and management of low back pain current research suggests that chiropractic care should be the first stop for low back pain patients who are looking for the most effective and economical results.
Dr. Matthew Cleary