Back Surgery not the best option for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients?

February 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

An intriguing new study published in the January issue of the magazine Spine has critical implications for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients. The study, out of Massachusetts’ General Hospital, looked at nearly 1,000 patients with lower back pain and leg pain stemming from herniated discs and sciatica. Some patients underwent surgery to treat back problems. Other patients received non-surgical interventions such as drugs, physical therapy, and exercise plans. The leader of the study, Dr. Steven Atlas, discovered that, while surgery initially yielded better results for patients; after two years, the differences between the surgery patients and non-surgery patients dwindled away – at least for Workers’ Comp patients.

In other words, injured patients who got surgery for sciatica faired equally as well as injured patients who did non-surgical treatment, two years down the road. The implications for treatment of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients seem pretty profound. They suggest that surgery may not be the best course for action for some sciatica patients.

Here is one potential explanation of these results: BOTH surgery and non-surgical interventions may not deal effectively enough with fundamental back health problems. Consider: nodules of fibrous tissue (called trigger points) will form at stressed sites in the muscle tissue. These trigger points have been implicated in causing all sorts of soft tissue injuries and repetitive stress problems, from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome to lower back pain. Neither of the two interventions studied effectively located and resolved the trigger points that might have been causing/exacerbating the sciatica. Thus, it makes sense that the treatments would yield similar (less than stellar) results two years out.

It would be interesting to see how the patients studied would have compared with a third cohort of patients who received trigger point therapy and other soft tissue treatments for their backs.

The big point here is that North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients must keenly research their treatment options. What is in vogue today, medically, may be disproven tomorrow. Thus, it’s important to speak with your physician at length before making any decisions. Informed patients can work more effectively with their doctors and, theoretically, develop more proactive recovery plans.

For assistance with any North Carolina Workers’ Compensation legal questions, get in touch with a qualified and top caliber attorney today for a free, no obligation, and confidential consultation.

More Web Resources:

Dr. Steven Atlas Back Study

Trigger Points and Back Issues


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