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  • 'Washington Post' Story Questions Effectiveness of Spinal Fusion Surgery

    The Washington Post recently looked at the rise in spinal fusion surgeries and uncovered more questions than answers when it comes to the procedure's effectiveness over therapy.

    Post reporters Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating examined spinal fusion surgeries as an example of how the debate over what is considered medically necessary can be colored by politics and business. According to the article, spinal fusion surgeries have increased sixfold over the past 20 years in the United States, whose citizens undergo more such procedures than any other country.

    The Post report states that "more than 465,000 spinal fusions were performed in the United States in 2011, according to government data, and some experts say that a portion of them — perhaps as many as half — were performed without good reason." The lengthy article includes summaries of the debate over the procedure's efficacy and the ways in which Medicare has approached the issue of payment. A recent APTA News Now story reported on research that found physical therapy to be as effective as fusion surgery for treatment of degenerative disc disease.

    The APTA patient-focused Move Forward website offers a host of low back pain resources for physical therapists (PTs) and their patients, including audio presentations and an e-book on low back pain and how PTs can help. Treatment of low back pain was the subject of a 2-day series of presentations at the 2013 APTA Conference in Salt Lake City in June, as well as the focus of several CEU courses in APTA's Learning Center.


    • It is about time! Hope medicare, and other insurance companies run with this and utilize much more affordable and effective therapy BEFORE even considering a surgical solution.

      Posted by Kathleen Flagge on 11/3/2013 5:18 PM

    • What's even worse is how it's illegal for Medicare to negotiate price when it comes to what drugs (esp pain meds) will be necessary before and after surgery.

      Posted by Mike Meinhart on 5/25/2016 11:22 PM

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