Work-related back injuries are both physically taxing and emotionally devastating. In many instances, healing requires medical intervention.
Since surgery is not always necessary, anyone with a spinal injury must judge whether going under the knife makes sense.
Evaluate the injury
The need for spinal surgery depends on the severity of the trauma. Alleviating minor strains or sprains may not demand a trip to the operating table. More severe conditions, like herniated discs or fractures, are more likely to improve with surgical intervention. An operation is most often recommended when neurological symptoms are present.
Doctors typically will explore non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, medication and rest before considering invasive action. If these conservative healing methods fail to provide relief, a medical procedure may be the logical path forward.
The pros of spinal surgery
Spinal surgery can ease the chronic pain caused by back injuries. Erasing the source of physical discomfort is better than coping with addictive opiates.
Also, assuming surgery is effective, an employee may return to work within a relatively brief period. Equally important, surgery can help prevent further spinal deterioration. The patient might even enjoy a more active lifestyle.
The cons of spinal surgery
Spinal surgery carries inherent risks, including infection, bleeding and nerve damage. While uncommon, these possibilities deserve careful consideration.
Beyond the dangers, recovery is an arduous process involving physical therapy and drastic lifestyle adjustments. It may be weeks or months before some form of normalcy returns.
Spinal surgery is not a guaranteed solution. If the first surgery fails, a follow-up operation will only have a 50% success rate.
Choosing whether to undergo a medical procedure for a job-related back injury can be agonizing. The advice of a medical professional remains a valuable ingredient when it comes time to make a decision.