Patients whose problems were not answered by surgery sometimes call upon chiropractors for help. It is unfortunate they did not consult with a chiropractor before surgery to determine whether their pain or other symptoms would be addressed without drugs or surgical intervention.
That said, as many as 40 percent of the 200, 000 people who have lower back surgery each year do not attain their desired outcome. Some of them are even in worse condition following surgery.
This condition is what's referred to as "failed back surgery syndrome," a general term for a host of problems that may be related to the surgery, but also other factors such as poor body mechanics, or medication problems.
People with failed back surgery syndrome often complain about unrelenting pain or physical impairment. Back injuries are cited as the most common reason for absenteeism in the general workforce after the common cold. It is estimated that about 80 percent of adults experience a back injury in their lifetime, and about 10 percent will suffer a re-injury.
Common types of back injuries include:
Overuse injuries These are the kinds of injuries that occur during the course of everyday activities, such as housework or exercise. Symptoms may include pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
Acute or traumatic injuries These injuries occur after an unexpected event, such as a fall, a sports injury, a job accident, or motor vehicle accident. If you think you have sustained a traumatic back injury, STAY CALM AND DO NOT MOVE until help arrives. It is very important to keep your back as immobile as possible following a traumatic injury as moving may worsen the injury.
Spinal fractures These are one of the most serious kinds of back injuries. Many people survive spinal fractures and return to normal activities. Others who are less fortunate are left paralyzed.
If a fracture involves the spinal column but not the spinal cord, there is a good chance that long-term paralysis will be avoided. Fractures to any of the spine's components, such as the vertebrae, joints, or discs, could affect the spinal cord and its more than 60 nerve roots.
Some people incur compression factures to the vertebrae. In these kinds of injuries, the vertebrae can be crushed. Compression fractures are more common in the thoracic (middle) and cervical (neck) portions of the spine since the lumbar vertebrae are the largest and sturdiest. Other kinds of injuries, such as twisting or impact injuries, can cause a fracture to vertebrae or joints.
You may have incurred a serious back injury if you have:
- Back pain that follows a severe injury, such as a motor vehicle accident.
- Been struck forcefully on top of the head or fall hard onto the buttocks.
- Fallen from a height of 15 feet or more.
- Incurred a direct blow to the spine with a moving object.
- Incurred a sports-related injury.
- Sustained a penetrating injury, such as a gunshot wound or stab wound.
If you sustain a back injury and experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- Loss of bowel or bladder control.
- Numbness or tingling in the buttocks, genital area, or legs.
- Pain in the upper back that occurs with chest pain that is crushing, squeezing or feels like a heavyweight on the chest or that occurs with any other symptoms of a heart attack.
- Signs of shock.
- Weakness in the legs.
Most sprains and strain injuries to soft tissues, such as muscles, if treated properly with rest and ice/heat therapy, will diminish within two weeks. Many other kinds require expert medical attention. Consult with your physician about whether chiropractic care would help.