Research, Common Sense Say Conservative Treatments before Spinal Fusion Surgery for Back Pain

December 18, 2014

Arlington, Va.—The American Chiropractic Association (ACA), in response to a recent government report and articles calling into question the rise in spinal fusion surgeries in the United States, strongly encourages patients and health care providers to consider the benefits of a conservative approach to back pain. 

 

“Research supports the use of more conservative treatments as a first-line defense against pain. This sensible approach not only reduces health care costs but also may help some patients avoid riskier treatments altogether,” said ACA President Keith Overland, DC.

 

 

Dr. Overland’s comments follow the release in October of a report from the HHS Office of the Inspector General showing that hospitals that purchased spinal devices from physician-owned distributors (PODs) had higher rates of spinal surgeries than the rate of hospitals overall. The report noted that many hospitals rely on the surgeon’s preference when making purchasing decisions, and in some cases those surgeons have a financial stake in the companies selected. OIG findings show that using a POD did not reduce costs and those hospitals that did generally saw an increase in the number of surgeries performed—indicating clinical decision may have been affected by the business relationship.

 

A related article published on Oct. 27 in the Washington Post reports that spinal fusion surgery in the United States has risen six-fold in the pas