An assessment of nonoperative management strategies in a herniated lumbar disc population: successes versus failures

Review written by Dr Sarah Haag info

Key Points

  1. People who end up having surgery for lumbar disc herniation spend approximately twice as much as people who do not go on to have surgery.
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Low back pain is a worldwide issue, impacting 568 million people worldwide (1), and results in over $100 billion in healthcare expenditures annually. Despite the large amount of money being spent on healthcare for low back pain, it is still the leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide (1).

The purpose of this study was to compare the utilization of conservative treatments for patients with lumbar intervertebral disc herniation who were successfully managed non-operatively versus patients who failed conservative therapies and elected to undergo surgery.

Low back pain is the leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide.
Perhaps physical therapy was not given enough time to make a difference for the failed non-operative treatment group who went on to have surgery.


  • For this retrospective study, data on patients aged 19 years or older with a diagnosis of lumbar disc herniation who were active in the insurance system was gathered from the Humana Ortho insurance database.
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