The Lowdown on Low Back Pain
(and Other Aches)


If I have a ruptured disc is surgery a good idea?

Most ruptured discs in the neck and back will heal with conservative care in less than six weeks. Properly organized exercise works far better than rest. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications reduce pain without significant risk. Stronger drugs can be used safely for short periods. If conservative care fails, surgery can cure a pinched nerve up to 95% of the time. A simple discectomy in the neck or back takes under one hour and may not even require hospitalization. Patients recover within about six weeks. Back surgery has a bad reputation because of the poor success rate of lumbar fusions. Fortunately, lumbar fusions can usually be avoided.



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Last modified: 07/27/08