Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Spinal Fusion Is Not Always Necessary


Submitted by Orthopaedic Specialists

Approximately eight out of every 10 Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. While most of these patients find the pain resolves within a few weeks, almost 10 percent of these patients develop chronic back pain and seek treatment from a healthcare provider. Traditional treatments include therapy, chiropractic care, medication, and in the most severe cases, surgery.

Understandably, patients can be very fearful of meeting with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss their chronic back pain. The most common treatment for these chronic cases is lumbar (lower) spine fusion surgery wherein rods and screws are attached to multiple sections of the vertebrae. Although this procedure is appropriate at times, Dr. Michael Dolphin of Orthopedic Associates contends that most patients will benefit from less invasive and alternative intervention, thereby eliminating the need for fusion.

“Very few patients truly require a spinal fusion. If your doctor recommends spinal fusion, I always advise patients to seek a second opinion,” says Dr. Dolphin. Although there are certainly indications for this procedure (tumor, fracture, or instability), most patients present with symptoms that are outside of these criteria. “Of the patients that I perform lower back surgery on, only 30 percent require a fusion.” That number bucks the trend that has been seen nationally; spinal fusions have been on the rise over the past five years despite research that shows that less than half are appropriate.

“We always have the patient’s overall health and wellbeing in mind” states Dr. Dolphin. “At Orthopaedic Specialists, we treat our patients like family. Decisions are made taking a patient’s individual circumstances into account. We don’t believe in a cookie-cutter approach. Every patient is different, and every decision is individualized; we pride ourselves on involving the patient every step of the way.”

To learn more about Dr. Michael Dolphin and this procedure please call 563-344-9292 to schedule an appointment, or visit www.OSquadcities.com.