Many do not understand the benefits and risks to the various options associated with back or neck pain. Most people seeking medical care for back and neck pain recognize that they might have treatment options (often including chiropractic care and surgery) but are unsure of which is best.
Patients who ask family, friends or coworkers for advice all too often hear secondhand stories about their individual experiences that can skew the outcome. The clinical facts—on the other hand—are often less accessible to the average person and tend to leave a smaller impression. There are various and extensive treatment options that one should consider before making a decision. The American Journal of Medicine and Spine (among others) have featured information on the risks involved with surgery and spinal manipulation An individual can also seek chiropractic care to see if that eases some of the pain a person might be experiencing.
Many people may not realize that Both Surgery and Manipulation Present Risks and you must weigh your options appropriately.
Patients who are suffering with neck pain and considering both surgery and chiropractic treatment should be aware of the risks and discuss them openly with their healthcare providers.
If the surgery route is taken, there may be serious complications from anesthesia, excessive bleeding, blood clots that lead to pulmonary embolism and infection. These general risks, however, are more specific risks of surgery on the spine. These may include a dural tear (the dura surrounds the spinal cord and a tear can cause leaking of cerebrospinal fluid), spinal cord injury and persistent or increased pain from an unsuccessful procedure.
How can a patient weight the risk of each option if both surgery and manipulation have severe implication risks? It is important to do your research or even ask a chiropractor for assistance on how often or what the odds of these scenarios might be. Managing risk isn’t just about understanding “worst-case”-type scenarios, it’s also about understanding how likely these and other complications are to occur. Reading on additional findings can also help your decision.
In April 2010, the journal Spine (published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) included an article that summarized the incidence of adverse events in spinal surgery based on the authors’ review and analysis of the existing literature. They found complication rates for spinal surgery ranging from 5% to 19%. Similarly, the American Journal of Medicine in 2002 published the results of a study that examined the incidence of serious adverse events for spinal manipulation. By comparison, researchers involved in that work reported complication rates ranging from one out of every 400,000 manipulations to one out of every two million.
So now we can see that the risk of a serious adverse event from spinal manipulation is extremely low relative to the risk posed by surgery. That’s one reason that the Mayo Clinic and many other reliable healthcare organizations around the world consider spinal manipulation very safe when performed by someone trained and licensed to provide this type of chiropractic care.
Whenever we talk about risk, it’s always important to remember that almost everything we do can be ‘associated’ with some type of adverse event. Driving a car, handling scissors, walking, or even eating a dinner can all lead to serious complications. The best way to handle these risks, including the risks of spinal manipulation, is to understand them and keep them in perspective. Healthcare providers and chiropractors are uniquely qualified to help you do that.
If you or someone you care about is interested in chiropractic care—including its potential benefits and risks—please call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Kauf at (312) 337-4004 to make an appointment.