A Surgeon’s Perspective on Back Pain
George Ampat is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in spinal disorders currently based at Royal Liverpool University Hospital. He qualified in medicine at the University of Madras in 1986, and moved to the UK in the mid-1990s, joining John Radcliffe Hospital at Oxford University as a specialist registrar in orthopaedic and trauma surgery.
After years of surgical practice, and witnessing the alarming trend in unnecessary and inherently risky surgeries being performed, he has taken the conscious decision to not operate. His mission is now to provide quality orthopaedic and spinal opinion, particularly to patients who have doubts about their diagnosis, are unsure about surgery or who have not improved after surgery.
Though back pain is one of the most common health problems, its cause is not usually clearly identified. More than 80 percent of adults will experience an episode of back pain some time during their lifetime. Half of us will have back pain in a given year. Men and women of all ages can be affected by back pain.
Majority of back pain is simple and will settle with no active intervention. The general advice is to keep mobile and to rest as less as possible. However back pain can be worrying and needs to be looked at if patients have “Red Flags”. Red flags include the history of cancer, infection, fever, inability to pass water or numbness in the saddle area. If these symptoms are not present, then back pain can be managed with mobilisation, simple stability exercises and over-the-counter medication.
Research shows that only two or three patients out of 100 who attend a health professional for back pain finally require surgery. The remaining 97 to 98 % get better without surgical intervention.
Unfortunately there is a false-belief that surgery or new technology can fix back pain. This is far from the truth…
Full article published in print and online in the June 2015 issue of TalkBack magazine. Sign up to the FREE monthly e-newsletter below to stay updated!