Be Careful Before Undergoing Spine or Knee Surgery

Greg Boles
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Partner at The Boles Firm | Experience Matters

Randomized trials show that a number of popular orthopedic surgeries have limited or no value. 

Spinal fusion is a surgery in which vertebra are fused together.  The purpose of the surgery is to reduce neck, back or pain extending into the arms or legs. The spine consists of approximately 24 vertebrae and 23 intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers.  In a spinal fusion surgery, the damaged disc is removed and adjacent vertebras are fused together.  Studies completed in the early 2000s demonstrated that spinal fusion surgery did little, if anything, to reduce pain, but orthopedic surgeons continue to perform such surgeries.  Not until 2012 did the incidents of such surgery start going down.

Another popular surgery, vertebroplasty, is done by injecting a special type of cement into a broken vertebra.  Like spinal fusion surgery, clinical studies demonstrate that these surgeries have very little effect, if any, in reducing pain. 

Surprisingly, In patients with a degenerative medial meniscal tear and no knee osteoarthritis, surgery is no better than fake operations.  Clinical studies demonstrate that physical therapy, exercise, and medication are the best ways to deal with this condition, at least in individuals over the age of 50.         

Only after all conservative treatment has been exhausted should you consider surgery, at least with respect to these surgeries. Furthermore, you must ask your physician tough questions. If the record for these surgeries is so poor, why should the result in your case be different?

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