A new study has found that spinal surgery is more beneficial for patients with a condition called spinal stenosis than non-surgical treatment options.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the passage in the spine through which nerves pass becomes narrow, resulting in debilitating pain in the lower back, hips and legs.
A surgical procedure known as laminectomy is often carried out, which makes the passage wider again and thereby alleviates pressure on the nerves.
Researchers analysed 654 patients, 398 of whom underwent spinal surgery.
They found that 63 per cent of surgical patients had benefited from a major improvement in their condition after two years, compared to just 29 per cent of patients who received non-surgical treatment.
The surgical patients also reported greater improvements in their levels of pain and function.
The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine and study author Dr James Weinstein, chairman of the department of orthopaedics at Dartmouth Medical School, told the Washington Post: "I was hoping as a spine surgeon that it really worked, and we found that it did. It looks like from our results that surgery is better than non-surgery."