//Risks of back surgery for low back pain / sciatica

Risks of back surgery for low back pain / sciatica

By |2019-03-11T21:35:41+00:00March 11th, 2019|Treatments that Work|0 Comments

If you’re concerned about the risks of back surgery, I’m guessing that you’re considering surgery for a lower back pain or sciatica. Or perhaps you’re doing some research for a loved one or friend.  Whatever your reasons, let’s start by saying there’s a time and place for most things.  And there’s a time and place for surgery.  As an Edinburgh osteopath for the last 25+ years, I’ve seen many people in your situation.  Here’s a little breakdown of the risks you are taking.  I’ve taken all of the information below from a review by Proietti, Luca et al., 2013.  It’s entitled  “Complications in lumbar spine surgery: A retrospective analysis“.

The risks of back surgery for disc problems

A review of 133 people having lumbar microdiscectomies (Proietti, Luca et al., 2013) showed that only 6 people had “complications”. Complications means things going wrong.  The table below is taken straight from that study.

  • Transitory neurological radicular deficit may mean weakness or numbness in part of the leg.
  • Deep venous thrombosis is a blood clot.  This is a risk of many surgeries.
  • Durotomy is where the membrane around the spinal cord is punctured.
  • Ileus is a blockage in part of the intestinal tract.

133 people

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc. Object name is IJOrtho-47-340-g002.jpg
And it’s worth bearing in mind that a year after surgery people are no better than those who elect not to have surgery.

Risks of back surgery for lumbar stenosis

88 people

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc. Object name is IJOrtho-47-340-g003.jpg
“Misplaced screw”?  Where did it go???

Risks of back surgery for spondylolisthesis

70 people

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc. Object name is IJOrtho-47-340-g005.jpg
More missing screws!!?

Risks of back surgery are affected by age

You can see from the bar chart below, that risks of back surgery generally increase as you get older.  The only exception is that there is no increase in risk from young adults to the middle aged for minor complications.
An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc. Object name is IJOrtho-47-340-g008.jpg

Summary of risks of back surgery

I hope that’s given you a good overview.  I’ve written a few articles on related topics, so have a good look around the blog if you’d like more information on this.  And if you’d like to discuss your own situation in detail with an Edinburgh osteopath specialising in pain and sciatica just book a consultation online.

About the Author:

Clinic Director and Osteopath. Gavin graduated as a Gold Medallist in 1991 and is now a Vice Patron of the British School of Osteopathy. Co-author of “The Back Book” with Gavin Hastings OBE in 1996, he has an MSc in The Clinical Management of Pain from the University of Edinburgh, and is currently working on a new book. He's passionate about helping to move people as far from illness and pain as possible, and in January 2015 set himself the target of helping a million people get a better back.

Leave A Comment