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Lumbar spinal surgery

Lumbar spinal surgery is sometimes used to treat chronic low back pain and other symptoms of degenerative spinal disorders. This chapter of the Fourth Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation examines lumbar spinal fusion and lumbar spinal decompression.

This chapter examines the use of lumbar spinal surgery to treat degenerative spinal conditions. It does not include surgery to treat infection, tumours or injury.

Low back pain is common in older people. Non-surgical measures, such as exercise and weight loss, are first-line treatment for most people. Surgery has a role in treating a small number of people with certain degenerative conditions.

Variation in lumbar spinal surgery means that more work is needed to improve access to non-surgical treatments for low back pain. More data need to be collected to explore the outcomes for people who have this surgery.

Each page includes a summary of findings and recommendations, interactive maps and graphs, and downloadable data.

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