80 percent of back surgery unnecessary



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Techniker Krankenkasse criticizes unnecessary back surgery

According to surveys by the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), 80 percent of operations due to back pain are unnecessary. Alternative treatment methods such as osteopathy or chirotherapy are still used far too rarely. However, all statutory health insurance companies refuse to cover the costs of these alternative treatments. Especially lower income groups often have no choice but to take conventional medical interventions.

Four out of five surgical interventions for back pain are unnecessary or even dangerous in the state of Baden-Württemberg, according to the results of a current study by the statutory health insurance technician (TK). Because back surgery is not always the best option to address health problems, patients should seek a second opinion if surgery is recommended. The health insurance companies cover the costs of obtaining a second doctor's recommendation. However, the costs for alternative treatments based on osteopathy or chirotherapy are usually not borne by the statutory health insurance companies.

Obtaining a second medical opinion is recommended That in Baden-Württemberg around 80 percent of patients with back problems end up on the operating table instead of undergoing alternative treatment methods, the experts at Techniker Krankenkasse are clearly concerned. Because alternative healing methods often offer a similarly high chance of success for back pain as a surgical intervention - without the risk of comparable complications. Therefore, patients with a recommended back operation should best get the opinion of a second doctor before going under the knife, advises the TK. The costs for this second opinion are borne by the statutory health insurers, said the TK when presenting the current examination results. Those affected can access 28 expert teams nationwide, which offer a second medical opinion free of charge. According to TK, the pain centers in Freiburg and Göppingen in Baden-Württemberg are involved in the pilot project of the statutory health insurance companies.

Advice helps avoid back surgery According to the Techniker Krankenkasse, 162 patients sought support for the pilot project in Baden-Württemberg last year. According to the results of the TK examination, none of the patients advised there had previously been operated on their back. Accordingly, all those affected could be helped with other means. Various treatment methods such as local anesthesia for the painful back area, physiotherapy, device training and pain medication were recommended. Most of the different treatment methods are used in combination, explained the TK. In addition, the learning of suitable relaxation procedures is a focus of the alternative treatment approaches. However, according to the experts, a surgical intervention should only take place when all alternative treatment options have been ineffective. Because surgery always constitutes a health risk for those affected, according to the experts when the current TK test results were presented.

230,000 back surgeries per year in Germany According to the figures of the Techniker Krankenkasse, around 230,000 people are operated on annually throughout Germany for back pain. Malte Natalis, orthopedic surgeon and pain specialist from Freiburg, told “Welt Online” about the TK examination that “surgery always involves risks” because “for example nerves and vessels can be damaged or scars and adhesions can occur”. According to the specialist, an operation should therefore be put on the back "as long as conservative measures are not exhausted". In order to avoid chronic back pain permanently, according to Natalis, "a healthy lifestyle is particularly important" because 80 percent of patients could avoid their back problems by exercising more. According to the expert, the pain centers in Freiburg and Göppingen involved in the pilot project are primarily aimed at people who have been so handicapped by their back pain over a period of more than four weeks that they could not go to work. Since the back pain in the affected person threatens to transition into a chronic stage of the disease, alternatives to a possibly necessary surgical intervention should also be shown in the pain centers.

Alternative treatment options for back pain According to estimates by health authorities, 25 million people across Germany suffer from back pain, which is one of the most common reasons for incapacity for work and loss of work. The experts estimate that the costs of treating back pain in this country are in the single-digit billions, the follow-up costs due to absenteeism even in the double-digit billions. As soon as the symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks, the back pain is considered a chronic condition. Since the back problems can have innumerable causes, the alternative treatment methods from the field of naturopathy focus on the determination of the causes of the disease. The therapist tries to clearly determine the cause of the back pain by carrying out a thorough medical history in order to then initiate appropriate measures. In the past, as part of the naturopathic treatment of back pain, relatively good healing results have been achieved with the help of osteopathy, chirotherapy and also acupuncture. Therefore, in the event of doubt, the opinion of an osteopath, chiropractor or alternative practitioner should be obtained before a surgical intervention. (fp)

Also read:
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Comments:

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