What is the #1 predictor of whether you will have low back surgery in the USA?

That’s right, the #1 predictor of whether you will have low back surgery in the USA is not the amount of pain you have or your MRI findings, it’s your ZIP CODE!!! Hard to believe isn’t it? Another predictor is if the surgeon owns the MRI machine. If they do, the likelihood of spinal surgery increases by 34%.

Low back surgeries are offered to improve pain and function, yet this is not always the outcome. In some instances patients may even have greater pain levels and decreased function after surgery.

So, what’s the take-home message? Most people experience low back pain, and much more often than not, it’s caused by something that doesn’t require low back surgery. When low back pain strikes, physical therapy is a great first choice, but too many people end up taking medication – or even worse, they end up in a vicious cycle of medical care that eventually can lead to the operating room – for back pain that could have been managed conservatively in the overwhelming majority of cases. That’s something to think about the next time your back hurts.


For further reading check out this link.






Leave a Comment