AAOSIt was observed that around 21 million visits were apparently seen at the physicians’ offices owing to back problems in 2006. While innumerable adults seem to undergo back pain and stiffness, several appear to experience grave spine and back conditions counting injury, herniated discs and the worsening of the vertebrae. Specific studies conducted could provide the much needed answers concerning the treatment of spine and back conditions.

Lumbar disc herniation or a slipped disc is said to mostly affect adults aged 30 to 40 years and is believed to be usually caused by degenerative variations in the spine. A new study apparently examined the consequence of symptom duration while treating herniated discs in the lower back. A comparison was supposedly viewed between 927 patients who suffered from intervertebral lumbar disc herniation symptoms for less than six months and around 265 patients who had experienced symptoms for more than six months. It was observed that patients with symptoms lasting over six months seemed to encompass worse results following both operative and non-operative treatment as opposed to patients with shorter symptom duration.

Jeffrey A. Rihn, MD, study co-investigator and assistant professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Thomas Jefferson University and The Rothman Institute, commented, “The bottom line is patients who seek treatment, whether it is surgical or non-surgical, during the first six months of symptoms will respond better to treatment. We also learned that surgery offers advantages over non-surgical treatment regardless of the duration of symptoms.”

Lumbar spinal stenosis is said to be the primary cause of spine surgery in patients over 65 years. Spinal degeneration is thought to taper down the spinal canal and condense the spinal cord and nerves. Another study supposedly observed roughly 241 patients who experienced surgery and about 115 who had non-operative care. Study authors discovered that patients who opted for surgery were inclined to be younger, with more pain and additional disability and apparently felt their symptoms were advancing.

F. Kurd, MD, lead author of the study and orthopaedic surgery resident, Thomas Jefferson University and The Rothman Institute, mentioned, “These results help complete the evaluation and treatment algorithm for patients with spinal stenosis. The findings will enhance the shared decision-making process by aiding physicians in counseling patients to help them choose the right treatment option.”

Vertebral compression fractures are believed to be one of the most recurrent effects of osteoporosis. They seem to cause pain, disability and reduced standard of life. Balloon kyphoplasty is said to be a minimally invasive procedure for acute vertebral fractures that may decrease and rectify the vertebral deformity by introducing expandable balloon tamps and subsequently packing it with bone cement. In 2007, around 46,000 inpatient kyphoplasty procedures were conducted in the US.

The outcomes noted were from a study of approximately 149 patients treated with balloon kyphoplasty and about 151 patients treated with non-surgical treatment. Measurements for standard of life, back pain and function, and days of disability were examined via 24 months of follow-up. As opposed to non-surgical care, balloon kyphoplasty apparently enhanced quality of life, decreased back pain and disability and did not seem to boost unfavorable events counting the threat of vertebral fracture for more than two years.

These three studies were presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).