When To Get Surgery
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail
Practitioners in all fields fall victim to this sort of professional tunnel vision. It’s completely natural; they believe in what they do and they genuinely want to help others with their problems. The therapist thinks they can talk everyone out of their problems. The personal trainer thinks you can workout your way out of your problems. The yogi says you can stretch them all away. The doctor says that medication will solve your problems. The traditional chiropractor thinks that an adjustment will cure everyone’s problem every time (which is not at all true). And the surgeon looks at a problem and says “ah! we can fix that”.
And this can be problematic. Because you can switch therapists, you can change your medication, you can switch your workout or your chiropractor. But you can’t undo a surgery.
Every day there are people with common musculoskeletal issues like a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, arthritis, and shoulder impingement that run directly to their medical doctor with their pain. After a bit of imaging they are sent off to a consultation with a surgeon. The surgeon sees the problem and gives his recommendation. Surgery. Of course! He’s a surgeon. Surgery is what he does best and it’s what he knows. He’s probably not a bad guy but there’s no denying that he is incentivized to cut them open instead of referring them out for a less permanent option. Surgery is his hammer and your back looks like another nail ready to pound.
And sure, it may be the case where you do need surgery. But no one should be getting surgery until they’ve exhausted the alternatives. Because wouldn’t you prefer a non invasive, cheaper, less painful, and more effective alternative to surgery if it were out there? If you are recommended surgery before trying physical therapy, chiropractic care, soft tissue work, or another alternative therapy then you should run in the other direction.
Don’t you think it’d be crazy to get a knee replacement when you could fix 80% of your knee pain with movement therapy and soft tissue work? If you could fix your shoulder impingement with Active Release Technique manual therapy, why on earth would you get surgery?
The bottom line about When To Get Surgery
As a chiropractor and manual therapist I have seen far too many patients come through my clinic who were considering or had already gotten surgery before they had exhausted the less drastic alternatives. If an issue can’t be fixed by other means then surgery is a powerful tool but it should always be weighed with it’s cost. I’ve had many patients who were considering surgery resolve their symptoms with a combination of Active Release Technique manual therapy and therapeutic exercise. I’m thankful that they came to see us before they followed through with the surgery.
If you think you need surgery then talk to a competent physical therapist or chiropractor before you go to a surgeon. As much fun as a knee replacement or a spinal fusion would be, doesn’t it make sense to explore the alternatives first?
To YOUR health
Movement is Health,
Dr. Christian Barney D.C., D.A.B.C.O., C.C.S.P., ART
How can Performance Health & Wellness help you?
- Active Release Technique (ART) to the soft tissue structures to restore normal function, decrease stress to the injured area, reduce scar tissue, and promote healing;
- Stretching and Exercises to prevent condition from returning;
- Chiropractic adjustments to restore proper motion;
- Cold laser to help reduce inflammation;
- Kinesio taping to allow an athlete to continue to particpate in his sport plus augments the treatment.
- Functional medicine with extensive nutritional based consultation, individualized nutrition programs.