NE Journal of Medicine: R.I.P. Back & Neck Fusion Surgery

“In this new study, almost 300 patients with low back spinal stenosis (arthritis that’s putting pressure on nerves) were randomly assigned to undergo either a traditional laminectomy or that surgery plus a lumbar fusion. The result was not surprising—adding a fusion surgery didn’t improve outcomes at two or five years after surgery!”

The problems with this surgery from a Neuro-Structural Correction (NSC) viewpoint are many. For starters, we know that the spine needs MOTION! When movement changes, or is reduced in the spine is when we start to see joint and disc deterioration. Often, it is this degeneration that spurred (no pun intended) the surgery in the first place. We usually will see something called something called “adjacent segment disease” (ASD). This is when the levels above and below the fused area start to degenerate faster due to the complete lack of motion in the fused area. Another BIG issue with these surgeries is that the structure is never corrected before hand. If there is a structural issue or a functional shift, it will remain there, frozen in the fused area. All of these lead to something called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.

Of course, these Neuro-Structural issues start off with the vertebral subluxation complex , or VSC, starts. VSC is defined in a few ways; The WHO defines it as,  “A lesion or dysfunction in a joint or motion segment in which alignment, movement integrity and/or physiological function are altered, although contact between joint surfaces remains intact.”

This is short and sweet, but a little hard to understand. A better explanation, and one I like better, is the following:

  1. The Osseous Component is where the vertebrae are either out of position, not moving properly or are undergoing physical changes such as fusiondegeneration. This component is sometimes known as kinesiopathology.
  2. The Nerve Component is the malfunctioning nerve. Research has shown that only a small amount of pressure on the spinal nerves can have a profound impact on the function of nerves. This component is scientifically known as neuropathology.
  3. The Muscle Component is also involved. Since muscles help hold the vertebrae in place, and since nerves control the muscles themselves, muscles are an integral part of any VSC. In fact, muscles both affect and are affected by the VSC. This component is known as myopathology.
  4. The Soft Tissue Component is when you have misaligned vertebrae and the pressure on nerves resulting in changes to the surrounding soft tissues. This means the tendons, ligaments, blood supply, and other tissues undergo changes. These changes can occur at the point of the VSC or far away at some end point of the affected nerves. This component is known as histopathology.
  5. The Chemical Component is when all of these components of the VSC are acting on your body, and therefore causing some degree of chemical changes. Theses chemical changes can be slight or massive depending on what parts of the body are affected by your subluxations. This component is often known as biochemical abnormalities.

It’s easy to see how correcting these things could only be beneficial! By seeing a doctor trained in Neuro-Structural Correction many of these issues become a thing of the past. There have been many times when a person walks into Advanced Chiropractic telling me that they’ve been told surgery is their only option; More often than not after a thorough assessment, we find they are candidates for NSC and avoid surgery altogether.

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