In fact, studies have shown that seeking treatment for chronic pain may even save a person’s life. A study presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons indicated that osteoarthritis patients who have knee replacement surgeries are 11 percent less likely to develop heart failure and 50 percent less likely to die from any cause within three years of the surgery.
The study noted that eliminating the cause of knee pain typically enables individuals to get more exercise and improve their fitness levels in a general sense. A person may not even realize how much their pain held them back, but once the problem is resolved, they are often able to live much more active lifestyles.
The same appears to be true of spine surgery. When a person has a condition like spinal stenosis, it may be fairly easy to accommodate the pain. Many people find relief by simply sitting down whenever they can or walking in such a way that the affected nerve is pinched less. However, they may not even realize the degree to which their pain prevents them from engaging in normal activities. Similar to the benefits of knee surgery, a spinal operation may even help a person get back to their normal life, improve their overall health and long-term life expectancy.
A 2008 study published in the journal Spine indicated that spinal stenosis patients age 60 though 85 who undergo surgery actually have better 10-year survival rates than people of the same age who have no spinal problems at all.
Those who do decide that an operation is in their best interest may want to look into minimally invasive spine surgery. These procedures can fix problems like spinal stenosis or a herniated disc without risking the lengthier recovery time, scarring and other issues that typically come with open-back spine surgery procedures.
“Individuals who feel like their quality of life is being impacted may be able to regain their ability to do the things they once enjoyed,” stated Dr. Bryan Massoud, Orthopedic spine surgeon and founder of OASIS Orthopedic and Spine Integrated Services. “Furthermore, if a person’s pain is really serious, the procedure may even save their life.”