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Home / Unnecessary Surgeries and the Watch Analogy: The Green Book Series

Unnecessary Surgeries and the Watch Analogy: The Green Book Series

Today I want to apply some common sense, straight line thinking to a problem that is plaguing all “health care systems” worldwide, especially here in the United States.  That problem is unnecessary surgeries.   This has been an issue for over a century!  Dr. BJ Palmer, the world’s most pioneering chiropractor wrote about this for years.  Sadly, his warnings about this topic have fallen on deaf ears as the prevalence, cost and damage to patients done by unnecessary surgeries has skyrocketed!  Nevertheless, his words of wisdom are as prescient today as they were back then which is why I would like to share them with you today!

But first, let’s add some context to this discussion. 

This is an excerpt from the International journal of clinical practice in 2014:
“US health care expenditures per capita far exceeds that of ANY other nation in the WORLD.  Indeed, over the last 15 years, the USA has distantly surpassed most countries in the developed world in total healthcare expenditures per capita with the USA now spending over 17.4% of its gross domestic product on health care ($7960 per capita) compared with only 8.5% of GDP in Japan ($2878 per capita) a distant second.  Such spending growth rates are unsustainable, and the system would soon go broke if not corrected.  The drivers of these spending growth rates in US healthcare are several and varied.  In September of 2012, the Institute of Medicine reported that US healthcare squandered over $750 billion in 2009 through UNNEEDED care.” 

Now, with all that spending, surely we have the best outcomes right?….. WRONG, dead wrong in fact.  A 2022 report by The Common Wealth Fund revealed we rank 38th in the world in life expectancy, which is LAST for all major developed nations, there are 3rd world countries with higher life expectancies!  If that was not bad enough, did you know of all countries in 2020, The United States possessed the HIGHEST infant mortality rate which is markedly higher than Norway which was the top country in the world for having the lowest infant mortality rate.  This was reported in The American Journal of Managed Care in January of THIS year, 2023. 

This is from the Journal Patient Safety In Surgery in 2017
Title, “Why do surgeons continue to perform unnecessary surgery?”
Please listen very closely, what you are about to learn will likely be quite shocking..
“This unrecognized problem has escalated so far that medical errors currently rank as THE 3RD leading cause of death in the United States. Strikingly, in the 21st century, we still have to come to terms with the absurd reality that it is significantly safer to board a commercial airplane, a spacecraft, or a nuclear submarine, than to be admitted to a US hospital!”
Let me repeat, medical errors account for the 3RD leading cause of death in the US, over 440,000 people die in the US per year!  Shouldn’t that be a headline on the news??  Keep in mind that data is from 2013, all indications suggest the current number of deaths caused by medical errors are EVEN higher!  Many of those deaths are due directly or are related to complications from unnecessary surgeries. 

What is unnecessary surgery?  They define it as follows: “Any surgical intervention that is either not needed, not indicated, or not in the patient’s best interest when weighted against other available options, including conservative measures.”  That last part is extremely important, they included conservative measures being something that should be done if it can benefit the patient over surgery.  Chiropractic is such a measure, which in many cases should be used first BEFORE resorting to surgery. 

Notice I said in many cases.  Of course, there ARE TRUE surgical emergencies and a number of conditions where surgery IS what SHOULD be done.  In these instances, surgery can be absolutely lifesaving and or life changing.  Thank god we have skilled surgeons & modern techniques for THOSE instances!  However, those true surgical cases are NOT our focus today.  Today’s focus is on unnecessary surgeries.

If you are wondering: Just how many surgeries are performed in the US, each year, the numbers are  staggering:
In the US there are 40-50 MILLION surgeries performed each year! According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 16% of all surgeries may be unnecessary: that would mean in the US there are between 6.4 and 8 MILLION unnecessary surgeries performed each year!

In 2020 In the US alone over 700,00 arthroscopic partial knee meniscectomies are performed every year.  Recently, a randomized, double-blind, sham controlled trial (highest level of evidence), revealed NO benefit for patients from the surgery at the 12 month follow up vs. those that did not have surgery. This study, The Finnish Degenerative Meniscal Lesion Study” certainly ruffled some feathers amongst the surgical community, however, sadly, meniscus surgery rates do not seem to have changed, at least not yet..”

So now you know how big of a deal unnecessary surgery is, especially in the United States!

Now lets dive into Dr. BJ Palmer’s thoughts on this, perhaps it may shift how you think about things moving forward.  The ideas and thoughts conveyed could have been written today!  Please keep in mind the following:  The writing style is not modern, I will add my own edits as it was written in 1917, in the book, The Science of Chiropractic.  Page 74, heading: “Sensible Suggestions”

“If you should let your watch fall,

To summarize: Our bodies are the most complex, self-regulating, self-monitoring, self-healing machines in the entire world.  We are made up of over 70 trillion cells, each individual cell is capable of 100,000 functions per second!  We cannot even comprehend that!  Call it what you want, Nature, God, Source, did not put anything in our body that it does not need.  And, no matter what a doctor tells you, no matter how often a particular surgery is performed, No surgery is routine.  Ever.  In some ways we ARE like a delicate time piece or classic watch, yet SO much more complex as a watch does not have the ability to self-heal!  So, when it comes to health challenges, make sure that Surgery is ALWAYS the last resort.  Are there times when it IS appropriate, Absolutely, just make sure you have done EVERYTHNIG possible to try and allow the body the time to heal on its own.  This is where Chiropractic comes in.  What most people do not know is this:

In the first 80 or so years after Chiropractic was discovered, it had nothing to do with back pain or neck pain. It was not until the modern insurance industry started covering chiropractic for back pain, neck pain and headaches, that many people began to think that that is what Chiropractic is for.  True Chiropractic focuses on one thing and one thing only.  If you have a health challenge that you are not overcoming, is there any interference to the body’s innate healing response which is limiting your recovery.  And often, that is indeed what is hindering a person’s healing response.  It really is that simple: Chiropractic’s ONLY job is to analyze, detect and correct vertebral subluxations which can directly interfere with the brain’s communication with the body and the body’s communication with the brain.  Virtually all people and ALL doctors recognize that your brain & nervous system control Everything.  Because the brain & nervous system control Everything, that includes ALL Healing.  The brain and body need to be in constant communication to be able to optimally monitor, regulate and repair any tissue, organ or gland.  Therefore, your spinal cord is literally your lifeline, serving as the superhighway connecting brain and body.  Vertebral subluxations, small misalignments of individual vertebral or regional displacements of the spine like forward head carriage increase tension on the spinal cord (TEXT NECK) causing interference between brain and body. Of all the stresses that can be applied to nerves, tension negatively affects nerve health the most!

This is why Chiropractic care should Always be considered for those with ANY health challenge!  It is really quite simple.  Chiropractic care is Not designed to fix or cure ANY single disease, rather it is a NON-invasive way to help the body perform better. Period.  This is why it CAN help with so many types of health challenges.  Now for the best part.  Especially for those that practice Corrective Chiropractic like we do at BTHC,:  Corrective chiropractic care is the most research supported chiropractic technique available and study after study confirms exactly what Dr. BJ Palmer proposed over 100 years ago.  Vertebral subluxations cause nervous system interference which can negatively affect organs, tissues and or glands.  

For you science geeks out there or medical professionals who want to learn more, a breakthrough study, out THIS Week in the Journal of Clinical Medicine is a great start:

Title: Does forward head posture influence Somatosensory Evoked Potentials and Somatorsensory Processing in Asymptomatic Young Adults?  In other words, does subluxation, even in a person without any symptoms, cause interference with their nervous system?  The Answer… YES, IT DOES! In short, this study demonstrates that regional subluxation in the cervical spine, as what occurs when the head is shifted forward, like in TEXT Neck, caused disturbances in key functions of the nervous system!

So, there you have it, a straight-line thinking approach to dealing with the topic of unnecessary surgery.  I hope you find this thought provoking.  Please share this episode especially with those dealing with unresolved health challenges!