Lumbar fusion shows long-term benefits
Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have succeeded in reversing brain birth defects in animal models, using stem cells to replace defective brain cells. The work of Prof. Joseph Yanai and his associates at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School was presented at the Tel Aviv Stem Cells Conference last spring and is expected
Full Post: Scientists reverse brain birth defects using stem cell therapy
Lumbar fusion is becoming an increasingly common treatment for low-back pain, but its long-term effects are relatively unknown. A doctoral thesis from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet now shows that the long-term effects are superior to those of physiotherapy.
Chronic low-back pain is treated increasingly often with lumbar fusion, by which several lower back vertebrae are fused in a way that has little impact on the back’s overall mobility. Lumbar fusion has been shown to relieve pain in the short term, but no studies have examined the long-term effects of the operation and compared them with alternative, non-surgical treatments like physiotherapy.
Per Ekman is a surgeon at Stockholm South General Hospital (Sodersjukhuset), and has shown in his doctoral thesis that patients who have undergone lumbar fusion also improve in the longer term. His results are based on an evaluation of 111 patients, randomly assigned treatment with lumbar fusion or physiotherapy. On a follow-up nine years later, 76 per cent of the surgical group stated that they felt better than before the operation, compared with only 50 per cent of the physiotherapy group.
“Whether lumbar fusion should be used at all for this type of back pain has long been the subject of much debate,” says Dr Ekman. “My studies suggest that most patients who have undergone lumbar fusion actually feel better, and that the operation carries no great risk. However, long-term improvements are often relatively modest, and the operation should also continue to be used as a complement to physiotherapy when this treatment doesn’t help.”
His thesis shows that men, the physically active and the gainfully employed have somewhat higher chances of benefitting from the operation than others.
“This tells us something, but unfortunately there are still no good methods for finding those with the best chances of responding well to the operation,” says Dr Ekman.
Thesis: Lumbar fusion for chronic low-back pain in isthmic spondylolisthesis, Per Ekman, Department of Clinical Sciences, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet.
A new study by researchers at The George Institute for International Health has found that back pain is a reoccurring problem for five million Australians. According to lead author, Professor Chris Maher, Director of Musculoskeletal Research at The George Institute, “After an episode of back pain resolves, one in four people will experience a recurrence
Full Post: Five million Australians hampered by back pain
Back pain affects more than 80 percent of people and costs more than $100 billion annually in the U.S. But is the surgery cost effective? A study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center suggests that for patients with spinal stenosis, a laminectomy, or surgical removal of some soft bone and tissue, is a reasonable
Full Post: Cost effectiveness of spinal surgery examined
People who use weight training to ease their lower back pain are better off than those who choose other forms of exercise such as jogging, according to a University of Alberta study. The study, done in conjunction with the University of Regina, showed a 60 per cent improvement in pain and function levels for people
Full Post: Weights better than aerobic training for back pain
A wide range of factors-including variables related to health care and job characteristics-affect the risk of long-term disability for workers with back injuries, reports a study in the December 1 issue of Spine. In combination, the risk factors can predict the risk of chronic disability after back injury, and may help in targeting workers for
Full Post: Risk factors for chronic disability after back injury
According to a new study by Australian researchers as many as 5 million Australians have recurring back problems. The researchers at the George Institute for International Health have also found that after one bout of back problems one in four people will experience a recurrence within one year. Professor Chris Maher, the lead author of
Full Post: Advice for 5 million Aussies suffering with back pain - what’s good for the heart is good for the back!