Harvard Health Letter

Back surgery: to have or not to have

Indecision is understandable, even a good idea, in light of inconclusive research results and lack of clear physical indicators.

Is your back bothering you at the moment? Do you have a history of back problems? If you answer "yes" to one or both of these questions, you've got lots of company. Low back pain is an extremely common condition: 80% of Americans experience at least one bout of it some time during their lives. Rest, some pain relievers, and perhaps some exercises help it go away.

But for many millions, the pain lingers and may become severe and debilitating. Depending on the underlying cause, surgery is an option.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »