Is Surgery Always Necessary?

We have met many people who are quick to get surgery, as if it is simple to undergo. A common misconception if you have chronic pain or arthritis is that you need an MRI and a surgical evaluation. Nope! Pain should not be an automatic indication that surgery is in your future.

Conservative practitioners and treatments should be utilized first. For example, nutritional supplements, weight loss, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic/osteopathic care, Pilates, acupuncture, and/or regenerative treatments, are potential options that should precede any surgical intervention. Surgery is fraught with many potential risks, one being the required anesthesia. General anesthesia greatly stresses the body and complications may occur. If you have ever seen anyone after anesthesia, you know it’s no picnic!

Although pain may be less, many patients continue to experience significant pain after surgery. Why? Pain is an indication of tissue damage, and surgery involves removing, cutting through and shaving supporting structures, thus weakening the joint. The underlying cause, and often the missing diagnosis, in most cases of chronic pain is joint instability due to ligament weakness. Sadly, surgery doesn’t repair ligament weakness, but may actually worsen it. There are, of course, instances where a patient needs surgery; however, each year many people undergo drastic surgeries unnecessarily because they did not explore all the options.

If a condition is known to be degenerative, such as osteoarthritis, the joint will continue to deteriorate under the following conditions: no treatment (choosing to do nothing), NSAID use, or receiving corticosteroid injections. By definition, degenerative conditions need regeneration. This is where treatments like Prolotherapy, PRP, and Stem Cell Therapy have made their mark in today’s pain and rehabilitation medicine. They provide long-term joint strengthening and repair, offering an effective alternative to surgery or post-surgical pain relief for patients who already went under the knife.