Mention out loud that you’ve got back pain, and you can brace yourself for all sorts of crackpot ideas.
Everyone — and I mean everyone — thinks they know the “secret” to quieting down that barking back. I’ve heard folks talk up healing crystals, stinky tea made with some awful weed, and rubbing potato peels into the back.
According to an old English folk remedy, you can cure back pain by rolling on the ground when you hear a cuckoo.
Of course, only a cuckoo would believe that.
But new research shows how one of the most common mainstream back treatments of all is about as effective for back pain as stinkweed tea and the cuckoo roll.
It’s an expensive surgery called spinal fusion, and the name makes it sound like a high-tech miracle.
And yes, it’s a miracle all right… a miracle for doctors’ bank accounts!
At up to $88,000 a pop, you can see why surgeons are pushing this procedure like crazy despite the fact that TWO new studies find it’s no better than a smaller, cheaper surgery called a spinal decompression.
There’s no difference in everyday function, and no difference in helping you to walk better or get stuff done.
Spinal fusion offers a little bump in overall quality of life, but it comes at a huge cost — and I don’t mean money. It’s a riskier procedure that requires a longer hospital stay and has a higher risk of complications and side effects.
On paper, that’s a win for spinal decompression. But in reality, they’re both losers — because neither one cures back pain for many people.
The problem is that they treat disc issues such as “slipped” and “bulging” discs, or disc “degeneration.”
But despite what you’ve heard, these conditions aren’t always the cause of your back pain.
Sure, if they scan your back they can show you the disc on the image and it LOOKS bad. What they won’t tell you is that if you scan the backs of folks WITHOUT back pain, you’ll often find the same slips and bulges!
In other words, the real cause of the pain isn’t always the disc, even if there’s a bulge or slip. It’s something else — and if your doc is brandishing his scalpel, it’s time to get a second or even third opinion.
If no one can find any other obvious cause for back pain, you still may not need surgery.
You may need cocaine!
I know that sounds more cuckoo than that English roll I mentioned earlier, but hear me out:
Medical-grade cocaine applied to the SP ganglion (via a swab up the nose) blocks pain signals, leading to relief that lasts months or even years.
This is perfectly legal — but because it involves, you know, cocaine, U.S. docs are a little shy about offering it. If you can’t find one willing to do the job, maybe it’s time to plan a vacation: the procedure is common in Central America and parts of Europe.