In the most recent edition of Lippincott’s Bone and Joint Newsletter a study was discussed referencing surgical and non surgical outcomes pertaining patients with sciatica and motor loss. When patients present for care limping, complaining of drop foot and or muscle weakness, motor loss is often an overriding concern. It has long been thought that a patient suffering from motor loss should have surgery and we’ve been lead to believe the sooner the surgery is performed the better the results. That is until now.
A new study from the Netherlands should calm worries and concerns of both patients and physicians. The study shows that surgical and non surgical outcomes for patients suffering from sciatic pain with motor deficiency were literally identical, however, those candidates who opted for surgery experienced faster return of motor function than those who opted for conservative care. What’s more is that “at one year, complete recovery of motor deficit was found in 79% of of patients treated surgically and 83% of patients who were treated with conservative care!”
Perhaps your pain and or motor deficit will be resolved sooner if you opt for surgery but your outcomes are actually less favorable than that of conservative care. Absolutely amazing! Why would anyone elect to have a more invasive procedure performed that also carries with it substantial risks, as opposed to just electing for a safer more conservative form of care? I certainly can’t understand it.
Let’s be honest. There is a time and a place for surgery, however until all conservative forms of therapy fail, then and only then should a surgical intervention be considered, and not a minute sooner.