These days, you hear a lot about how much surgery can help patients with herniated discs. But surgery, no matter what kind of surgery it is, has some inherent dangers. So, is it worth the risks? A new review of surgery verses conservative measures, such as rest and physical therapy, says no. Unless you need immediate results, the risks aren't worth it.
The authors of the new study start off by stating, "Evidence comparing the effectiveness of surgical and conservative treatment of symptomatic lumbar disc herniation is controversial." So, they designed a study to compare the short-term and long-term effectiveness of surgical and conservative treatment. In particular, they were looking at the severity of sciatica (pain that goes from the lower back down the leg) and quality of life.
To do the study, they enlisted the help of 370 men and women with documented herniated lumbar (low back) discs. They analyzed the level of their pain, their physical function, nerve symptoms, such as numbness and weakness, and overall quality of life. Some of the patients went on to have the discs surgically removed. The others preferred conservative measures, such as rest and physical therapy. The patients were evaluated at six weeks, three months, one year, and two years. Here's what they found.
The surgical patients did better in the short term. They had less pain and were more likely to report a greater than 50% decrease in back pain at six weeks. They also had less physical disability at the one-year point. However, there were no differences in any of the other measurements at any time, including reduction in numbness and weakness and quality of life. And when it came down to the two-year mark, there was no difference in any of the measurements. The authors concluded their report with this, "Compared with conservative therapy, surgical treatment provided faster relief from back pain symptoms in patients with lumbar disc herniation, but did not show a benefit over conservative treatment in midterm and long-term follow-up." But there's more to the herniated disc story.
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In another study, a Toronto team examined the combined results of 12 previous studies that looked at how effective surgery was for herniated discs compared to ozone therapy. They reported on over 8,000 patients who had been treated with ozone therapy and compared them to what is typically seen in studies of patients receiving surgery. Overall, the combined studies showed that ozone therapy was just as effective as surgery. It provided fast, effective pain relief. But, get this, it did so with a shorter recovery time and a much lower risk of complications. The study was reported at the March 2009 Society of Interventional Radiologists 34th annual meeting in San Diego. So, let's add it up.
Rest and physical therapy works just as well for herniated discs as surgery, but not as fast. Ozone therapy works just as well as surgery, but is even faster. And neither the rest/physical therapy approach nor ozone therapy has any complications, while surgery always carries risks. I started using ozone therapy to treat back pain and all kinds of other pain more than 20 years ago. I soon discovered that ozone therapy was absolutely remarkable in almost all pain cases. These include success with herniated discs at least 75% of the time. And over the years, I improved on the therapy by adding vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatories, and glucose. I dubbed this new combined process Prolozone®.
I don't usually get the easy cases. Most of my back pain patients have either already failed surgery or have been advised to have surgery. Using the Prolozone technique, I'm able to fix close to 75% of them. The procedure takes about 10 minutes. It can be done in an office setting without any special equipment. It's safe and natural. Most cases take about three to four treatments over a two to three month period. I'm firmly convinced that in most situations, no one should expose themselves to the many risks of surgery before they have tried a course of Prolozone. You can find doctors I have personally trained in Prolozone at www.aaot.us.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Gugliotta M, da Costa BR, et al. Surgical versus conservative treatment for lumbar disc herniation: a prospective cohort study. BMJ Open. 2016 Dec 21;6(12):e012938.
Ozone Shot as Effective as Surgery for Herniated Discs by Neil Wagner, April 7, 2009