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Surgery or Chiropractor?

I was recently diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis (thoracic curve @40 degrees, lumbar curve@60 degrees), arthritis, a bulging disk and bone spurs.

I have had lower back pain for a few years now and thought it was just a part of getting "old" (I'm only 31 lol). A few months ago i began having numbness in my left leg and shooting pain in my left hand. The lower back pain has gotten so bad that I'm in pain 24-7. I'm taking a low dose of Tramadol and Ibuprofen as needed. I also exercise, but nothing seems to help the pain.

I visited a chiropractor who confirmed the scoliosis. There was a treatment that he wanted to do, but since the treatment was considered as "experimental treatment", it was not completely covered by my insurance. I would end up paying ~$4500 for 3 months of treatment, which is definitely not in my budget. Additionally, the chiropractor mentioned that I may need up to 9 months of treatment and that there was no guarantee that the condition would get better.

One thing that bothered me about seeing the chiropractor is that he did not ask for an MRI. He simply took an xray and recommended a treatment based on that alone. I discussed my concerns with my GP, and she referred me to a neurosurgeon. After getting a lumbar MRI, it was found that I also have arthritis, a bulging disk and bone spurs.

I've been doing a lot of research, and I'm worried that I will in fact need surgery. Degenerative scoliosis and arthritis run in my family (my aunt and uncle have it, but opted not to get surgery. They are now in their 50's and both are now on disability). I'm a very active person and I want to know if anyone has an opinion about what I should do. Should i see another chiropractor, or just go with the recommended treatment as prescribed by the neurosurgeon? I absolutely HATE taking pain meds. They make me groggy at work (which is pretty dangerous because I work in a lab as a Research Scientist), and I don't want to rely on this for the rest of my life. I know about the effect that pain meds an have on my other organs.

I'm very confused and worried. Any advice would be great! :-)


  • I would advise you to get all the opinions you can afford. If you can, see another neurosurgeon, maybe an orthopedic surgeon and another chiropractor. I went on a "tour" of Atlanta area spine surgeons before deciding on surgery. Interestingly enough, I've gone to the same chiropractor regularly for 16 years. He looked at my x-rays and said "ain't nothin' but surgery gonna fix what you got". That was a huge deciding factor for me, plus my pain doctor and family doctor, they were all very helpful. Good luck.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - As a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. You should read Forum FAQ

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:
    dilauro, tamtam, liz, jellyhall or sandi

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    I went to a chiroprator for a few year before doctors discovered my condition (basilar invagination). He had a good reputation, but every time I came out of his office my pain was always worst than it was when I went in. I was always wondering how come and why my pain was never getting any better. Now, I know that he could've killed me. He was manipulating my neck (and my back) without even knowing what was wrong, why I had so much pain (to the point of not being able to take a bite).

    So now, ask me who I trust more? I don't think I have to answer. You can figure it out.
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