Bradley S. Cash, M.D. on the Benefits of Surgery for Patients with Herniated Discs

When comparing the results of patients who have elected to have surgery on a herniated disc compared to patients who have had physical therapy and pain medications, it is frequently true and I agree that those patients that have elected to have surgery when a herniated disc is directly compressing on a nerve do have quicker and more efficacious results in resolving their pain.

What happens when a patient elects to go through a conservative technique such as physical therapy and take pain medications is that they spend a lot of time and resources trying to relieve the pressure of the disc on the nerve than compares to when it is removed surgically.  It’s certainly helps to have rehabilitation after surgery but those patients that eliminate the source of the pain earlier are more likely to have more cost effective treatments as well.

Both groups do well, at the end. And do return to work. But those patients that tend not to have surgery frequently torture themselves sometimes with weeks upon weeks of therapy, exercise and pain medication and missing work – where those that make a quick decision about having surgery are likely to have quicker results.


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