Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The $100 billion per year back pain industry is mostly a hoax

Quarz reports:
Spinal fusion surgery, for instance: Involving the removal of worn-out or injured discs, then the fusing together of the vertebrae above and below that disc with metal screws and cages, this is the form of elective surgery that people spend the most on in the US, costing a total of $40 billion per year. The problem is, it rarely works.

The procedure, with a price tag averaging $80,000, has a success rate of about 35%. Those most likely to benefit are the young, trim, and athletic, not the typical surgery candidates, whose average age was 54 in a 2008 study by the Spine Research Foundation. (Smoking, being overweight, and taking opioids before the surgery each also reduce the likelihood of a positive outcome.) Even its “successful” patients often end up on painkillers two years after the surgery, according to studies, Ramin writes.
An article, well worth your time.