Why Back Surgery Backfires

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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Low Back Surgery Alternatives

Interesting article this week posted at MSNBC.com about a recent study of patients undergoing low back surgery. The study demonstrated that of those patients who opted for back surgery, only 26% went back to work compared to 67% of the patients who didn’t get surgery. There was also an increase in the use of pain medications after surgery. As we have always said, for a very few patients, low back surgery can be a Godsend. However, that’s only about 1-2 in 10 (IMHO) of the patients currently undergoing back surgery. The problem with conventional low back surgery is that it either cuts out parts of the disc or fuses together vertebral segments that were built to move. By taking out parts of the disc, the surgery weakens the disc and makes it more likely to fail. To understand this phenomenon, think of the low back disc like a bicycle tire. As illustrated above, the thick outer rubber tube can develop cracks and tears which let the inner tube bulge out (just like a disc bulge). Rather than fixing the cracked outer rubber part, our current surgical approach just lops off a piece of the outer rubber tube (the part pressing on a nerve), making the tire less durable and more likely to fail. Low back surgery does the same thing, no matter if it’s through a scalpel or a laser. In the case of the low back, the outer rubber tube is the disc annulus (outer part of the disc) and the inner tube is the nucleus pulposis (inner rubbery gel part). Is there a better way? We believe in using a low back surgery alternative by either injecting substances to help the disc area heal (like the Regenexx-PL-Disc procedure) or to help heal the cracks (like the Regenexx-C-Disc stem cell procedure). We’ve seen significant improvement in low back discs by simply injecting the patient’s own specially grown stem cells into these tears. The upshot? Looking at the bicycle example, it’s no wonder why back surgery backfires.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
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Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
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Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
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  • And more
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Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
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  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
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Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
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Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
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Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
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Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
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Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
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