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Lower back disk surgeries may benefit all ages

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© iStockphoto / Sebastian Kaulitzki © iStockphoto / Sebastian Kaulitzki

(HealthDay News) -- People of all ages seem to benefit from surgery for a slipped or bulging ("herniated") disk in the lower back, a new study suggests.

Older patients, over the age of 65, actually seemed to experience greater lower back relief than their younger peers, the researchers found.

However, the study also suggested that seniors undergoing such surgery appear to face a relatively higher risk for minor post-surgical complications. These older adults may also be more likely to have to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time following their operation.

The study team, led by Dr. Sasha Gulati of St. Olavs University Hospital in Trondheim, Norway, noted that a herniated lumber disk can cause debilitating chronic back pain.

The current research tracked outcomes from nearly 5,200 people under 65 years of age who had surgery on their lower back. Another 380 people were included in the study who were 65 and older when they had back surgery. The information was gleaned from the Norwegian Registry for Spine Surgery.

All patients, regardless of age, showed "significant" improvement in terms of disability relief. There were no age-related differences in terms of improved quality of life or leg pain after surgery.

But those aged 65 and up were more likely to experience minor complications. That was true in the hospital and within three months after discharge, according to the report. The findings were published online Feb. 22 in JAMA Surgery.

Still, the evidence suggests that "age alone should not be a contraindication to surgery, as long as the individual is fit for surgery," the study authors concluded in a journal news release.

More information

There's more on slipped disks at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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