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Study: Older herniated disc sufferers can benefit from surgery

A recent study says that older herniated disc suffers can benefit more from surgery than younger patients.

A herniated or "slipped" disc, which is a common car accident injury, can cause extreme pain, with sufferers often complaining of serious back and leg pain. While a herniated disc can often be treated through nonsurgical means, the most effective long-term treatment usually involves surgery. Unfortunately, older individuals who are suffering from a herniated disc often worry if the risks associated with surgery are worth the potential pain relief. Now, according to WebMD, an important study has shown that older back pain sufferers should not be put off of surgery simply because of their age.

Benefits of surgery

Earlier studies have shown that surgery generally offers better pain relief for herniated discs than nonsurgical treatment does. As Science Daily reports, a 2013 study compared two large groups of patients who were suffering from herniated discs: those who underwent surgery and those who chose nonsurgical options, such as exercise, medication, and physical therapy.

Both groups then rated their pain on a 100-point scale and the group that underwent surgery had a pain rating that was an average 11 points lower than the non-surgery group. Physical functioning and disability improvements were similarly better among the surgical group than the nonsurgical group.

Older patients and surgery

That evidence shows that while nonsurgical treatment can provide some temporary pain relief, surgery remains the best option for attaining long-term results. Unfortunately, older sufferers of herniated discs often worry about whether surgery is too drastic a measure or if it will lead to complications that, given their age, they will be less equipped to handle.

A recent Norwegian study decided to look at outcomes for older patients who had surgery for herniated discs. The study compared 5,200 patients under the age of 65 with 380 patients who were older than 65 who had herniated disc surgery. The study showed that while older patients did have more complications from their surgery and longer hospital stays, those issues were generally not serious and had little to no effect on how successful the surgery was. In fact, the older patients reported suffering from less pain after surgery than the younger patients did.

Personal injury law

A herniated disc is a common injury following a car accident and can lead to severe back, leg, and foot pain. In some cases, it can even lead to paralysis. As the above article shows, there are treatment options for herniated discs, both surgical and nonsurgical, but these options may be expensive. Anybody who is suffering back pain as a result of an accident should get in touch with a personal injury attorney today. An experienced attorney can help accident victims understand what claims they may be able to pursue and how financial compensation may allow them to pursue more effective treatment options.