for over 20 years

Back Surgery


If you’re thinking about back surgery, read this first.

Shocking Low Back Surgery
Research Results

Before you consider undergoing back surgery, read this. Low back pain is the second most common cause of disability in the United States and a very common reason for lost days at work with an estimated 149 million days of work lost per year. The total cost associated with this is astronomical… at between $100-200 billion/year… of which 2/3 are due to decreased wages and productivity.

More than 80% of the population will have an episode of low back pain at some point in their lifetime. The good news is that 95% recover within two to three months of onset. However, some never recover which leads to chronic low back pain… or low back pain greater than 3 months. Also, 20-44% will have a recurrence of low back pain within one year with lifetime recurrences of up to 85%.  What this means is that most of us have, have had, or will have low back pain, and we’ll get it again.

So the question is, what are we going to do about it?

Back surgery has traditionally been considered a “last resort” with less invasive approaches recommended first. Chiropractic treatments and management strategies have traditionally faired very well when compared to other non-surgical methods. But, is there evidence that by receiving chiropractic treatment, low back surgery can be avoided? Let’s take a look.

A recent study was designed to determine whether or not we could predict those who would require low back surgery within three years of a job-related back injury. This is a very important study as back injuries are the most common occupational injury in the United States, and few studies have investigated what, if any, early predictors of future spine surgery after work-related injury exist. The study reviewed cases of 1,885 Washington state workers, of which 174 or 9.2% had low back surgery within three years. The initial predictors of surgery included high disability scores on questionnaires, greater injury severity, and seeing a surgeon as the first provider after the injury.

Reduced odds of having surgery included:

1) less than 35 years old

2) Females

3) Hispanics

4) those who FIRST saw a chiropractor.

Approximately 43% of workers who first saw a surgeon had back surgery compared to ONLY 1.5% of those who first saw a chiropractor.  This study supports that IF a low back injured worker first sees a chiropractor instead of a surgeon, the likelihood of needing surgery in the three years after the injury would be DRAMATICALLY reduced.  In fact, the strongest predictor of whether an injured worker would undergo surgery was found to be related to who they saw first after the injury: a surgeon or a chiropractor.

Another recent study  by the University of British Columbia of 942 low back pain surgical patients looked at the safety of spine surgery and reported that:

1) 87% had at least one documented complication

2) 39% of the 87% had to stay longer in the hospital as a result

3) 10.5% had a complication during the surgery

4) 73.5% had a post-surgical complication (which included: 8% delirium, 7% pneumonia, 5% nerve pain, 4.5% had difficulty swallowing, 3% nerve deterioration, 13.5% wound complication)

5) 14 people died as a surgical complication. Another study showed lower annual healthcare costs for those receiving chiropractic care versus those who did not. The “take-home” message is: TRY CHIROPRACTIC FIRST.

There are certain emergency and last resort cases where back surgery is the treatment that makes the most sense.  One example is when you lose your bladder or bowel control because of your back problem.  Some low back pain patients notice that they feel like they have to use the bathroom more frequently than before.  This only becomes an emergency situation when you completely lose your bladder or bowel control.  For most patients this doesn’t happen, but unfortunately for some, it does.  Unless your low back pain condition falls into emergency or last resort categories, you should try non-invasive treatments first.

One of the modern non-invasive treatments you might want to consider is Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression.  We’ve had fantastic results with this treatment and many of our patients have avoided back surgery thanks to this breakthrough treatment. Click on the “Low Back Pain Treatment” tab above to discover how this treatment relieves low back pain and sciatica.

If you have Low Back Pain, call our office at (831) 475-8600 and schedule to get treated right away.  Don’t ignore your Low Back Pain.  There may be an underlying injury or damage in your back that needs to be treated right away.  We can guide you on how to fix the problem so that the damage doesn’t get worse.  The sooner you get the problem fixed, the less chances of your back problem becoming irreversible or suffering from permanent damage… the less chances of you needing back surgery.

  Alternative to Back Surgery?

A large-scale study published in 2008 has results that will make you wonder whether back surgery is always necessary (Bhattacharyya M. Does the risks and benefits of spinal manipulation in patients with low back pain as a nonsurgical approach translate into better outcomes in routine clinical care: a prospective observational cohort study. J Bone Joint Surg 2008;90B:Suppl.492.). In the study, researchers followed 102 patients with disc herniations confirmed by MRI and sciatic/leg pain while they waited to see a spinal surgeon. The patients had also previously tried four weeks of medications (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs), which had provided no benefit.

While they waited to see the spinal surgeon, they were referred for spinal manipulative therapy provided by experienced chiropractors.

A few patients experienced some transient increase in pain and there were three treatment failures (out of 102). Overall, the results were very encouraging with patients moved off of the surgery wait-list.

But how is this possible? The discs are the hard cartilage separating each vertebra in the lower back. When this ligament sprains, it can bulge onto a nearby nerve, causing back pain or pain down the leg. Precise adjustments use the bones as levers to affect the alignment of these vertebrae and the movement of the joints in the lumbar spine. If alignment is improved, then there is better posture and distribution of loads on the spine. Helping spinal mobility become more symmetrical may also prevent unequal loading of the soft tissues. Helping these mechanical aspects to heal can be enough to lessen your pain and help you to regain your quality of life. In some cases, it seems it may even keep you from a potentially unnecessary back operation.

At our clinic, we also use the modern disc decompressor shown below that has helped many of our patients avoid back surgery.

Based on the results of the study, anyone without need of emergency surgery should try chiropractic care before having an elective operation for a disc or sciatica/leg pain disorder. Again, emergency problems would be symptoms like bowel and bladder dysfunction and numbness over the tailbone or hips. Fortunately, most patients with low back pain do not fit into the emergency-surgery camp. To discover what you can do to avoid back surgery, get a FREE copy of Dr. Falkenroth’s book below by clicking on the box below that says “FREE BACK PAIN BOOK.”


 Here’s a patient talking about her experience with our treatment.

Click Here For Patient Testimonials



Please note that patients' conditions vary and therefore, results vary.

  • I had a herniated disc in my lower back. The pain was a 10. After 3 visits I could sleep, walk, and move with half the pain gone. After 1 month I was free of the pain and doing light work again.

    - Tom J., Soquel, Contractor
  • I visit Dr. Falkenroth regularly for pains, aches and for good health. I travel frequently, and he puts me back together after long plane rides. He’s a good guy, and I trust him to adjust my back, neck, shoulders and anything else that’s out of whack. I’ve stopped in with no notice and he’s accommodated me, always friendly and easy to work with.

    - Marty F., Scotts Valley Show More
  • I first went to Dr. Falkenroth several years ago for a Sciatica issue I was having (extremely painful). After seeing one chiropractor with little to no results, I found Dr. Falkenroth in the phone book. I made my appointment with him, and immediately felt comfortable when I met him and his wife Estrella. After one visit I was feeling relief already, and with the 2nd appointment I was pain free…

    - Phil J., Aptos, Electrical Distribution Show More
  • A year ago, I was riddled with back pain. I thought for sure my back would return once I retired and was able to give it a good rest… wrong. I found myself in tears every night praying for my life back. After costly doctor appointments, painkillers and a chiropractor that was not a match for me, I was referred to Dr. Falkenroth. Inside of a year, I am happy to report that I’m on an as needed”basis… I am pretty much pain free. I can now walk again, ride my bike, swim and take road trips!

    - Dianne F., Aptos, Retired Show More
  • I was introduced to Dr. Falkenroth thru a co-worker. I have a history of back issues and was looking for a good chiropractor in the area. I can state absolutely that Dr. Falkenroth has helped me with not only back health, but better overall health and wellbeing. He has an excellent gentle manner and is a good listener. I have recommended him to many friends and associates.

    - Mike W., Brookdale, Business Manager Show More
  • Ah, let me count the ways Dr. Falkenroth has improved the quality of my life!… I am pain free (upper neck, shoulders, lower back)… Dr. Falkenroth has been consistent, patient, and encouraging. He allows you to find your path to a pain free life! I am extremely grateful. I love the monthly newsletter and the office staff. Totally professional.

    - Faye M., Boulder Creek Show More
  • When I first met Dr. Falkenroth I was in constant pain, very intense pain. I took so many painkillers it scared me and my doctors. I had been to so many doctors looking for any kind of help. My life had been affected so much in so many ways and it had been affecting my family’s life in ways I have never even thought of. I was desperate for help. I hated being alive and suicide was not an option. Dr. Falkenroth was and is my salvation to at last living again in a somewhat normal life. He too

    - Deborah R., Scotts Valley Show More
  • … I was referred to Dr. Falkenroth by 2 of my Registered Nurse clients. I was suffering from low back pain with intermittent numbness from low back down through my knee. Having also been a Registered Nurse for 28 years I knew it was probably from L4. He gave a free thorough consultation and we both agreed to the problem stemming from L4. Since that time he has solved my shoulder, back and hip issues. I have so much confidence in his abilities. I have referred many of my own clients to him much

    - Georgia C., Aptos, Massage Therapist Show More
  • … Dr. Falkenroth was my lifesaver. I recommend him to everyone I know. I work long hours as a caregiver and love to do yard work in my spare time. After I do yard work, my body is in pain. But not even pain can stop me from doing yard work, because I know Dr. Falkenroth will be there to fix me back up. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. This is something you will have to come down here and try for yourself.

    - Ginger R., Watsonville, Caregiver Show More
  • Fifteen years ago, my lower back was a huge problem. I would lock up or have spasms on a “daily basis. Being a fitness trainer, this was not good. I turned to Dr. Falkenroth for help. After a few weeks of treatments I began to feel better… for the past 15 years my back has not caused any problems and I have never been more active.

    - Michael B., Santa Cruz, Personal Trainer Show More
  • I’ve gone to chiropractors my whole life. It got to a point that my condition was getting so bad that chiropractor manipulations only made my condition worse. I went online to find information on sciatic relief and found Dr. Falkenroth. I thought: I’ll try one more chiropractor. He was amazing! He was gentle and made me feel better instead of worse. He always spends a lot of time with me and I don’t feel rushed. He always gives me exercises when I ask. He knows every exercise for every par

    - Rami H., Santa Cruz, Retired Show More
  • … I always appreciate being able to get an appointment the same day I have pain and then feeling so much better when I leave the office. I am afraid of manual adjustments so him using the Pro-Adjuster is a scare-free way of getting adjusted.

    - Cecilia K., Aptos, Program Manager
  • … I have gone to other chiropractors before and have never been helped at all. Now I feel a relief of joint pain with Dr. Falkenroth and maintain this recovery with monthly appointments. I have been relieved with this method of care. It is much better than the traditional chiro adjustments that I was previously used to.

    - Nanette V., Boulder Creed, Retired Show More
  • … Dr. Falkenroth is always friendly, knowledgeable and professional. I look forward to my appointments, not only for the chiropractic care, but because he and his staff are always so welcoming, great conversationalists and care about the whole picture.

    - Joanne B., Capitola, Administrator
  • … I’ve always been impressed with the level of care and understanding Dr. Falkenroth brings to each visit. The computerized adjustments keep me relaxed, and are very effective. Dr. Falkenroth keeps me upright and mobile…

    - Michael M., Santa Cruz, Musician
  • I was getting to the point that I was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. As a UPS Driver that is not a good thing for me. So my wife made me an appointment with Dr. Falkenroth. It took several visits before I started feeling better. That was three years ago. No I come in once a month for maintenance only and I am able to work without low back pain.

    - Scott S., Watsonville, UPS Driver Show More
  • I came with severe pain, received painless treatment and immediate results. I have come back several times after being away for weeks or months and again received immediate relief.

    - Katera R., Aptos
  • The first time I came to see Dr. Falkenroth, my back was out, I was in pain, and I could not stand up straight. Twelve hours after my first treatment my situation was dramatically improved. The treatments were not uncomfortable and I have always found Dr. Falkenroth to be kind and helpful.

    - Laura L., Aromas
  • Having researched “wellness” thoroughly, I can speak very clearly of the benefit my family and I receive via this clinic. As a family, we rarely visit the MD (except for the occasional stitches or poison oak treatment), and have enjoyed the freedom of movement even as we get older. I recommend this clinic all of the time with satisfactory results from all.

    - Greg K., Aptos Show More
  • After seeing a massage therapist several times for a sore neck, she explained that she couldn’t get to the core issue. She said that Dr. Falkenroth has some advanced techniques that could help me out. I was very skeptical at first, but after 3-4 weeks, the pain has subsided and the visits are less and less frequent.

    - Ken P., Capitola Show More
  • My experience in using the decompression therapy for the past 6 weeks has been good. At first it was hard to get used to, but I had no choice. Doing the therapy was great. I would recommend in the future to anybody I know that has back problems to come to Dr. Falkenroth for treatment. They won’t be disappointed.

    - Alfonso P., Watsonville Show More
  • I was skeptical about the Pro-Adjuster because I had never heard of it before. However, I have enjoyed the painless treatments and like the fact that I can visually track progress after each session. Dr. Falkenroth has been fantastic. He is friendly and very professional.

    - Leona C., Santa Cruz
  • I was having back pain for several weeks. After a few days of sweating from pain I called Dr. Falkenroth and he was able to see me within a few hours. I was able to sleep after that night. Over the next few visits my back and neck pain were all but gone. I was skeptical of his approach with the new technology but am now sold on his procedures.

    - Jerry H., Santa Cruz Show More
  • I have had a lot of pain in my lower back and neck. Dr. Falkenroth has worked wonders for me over the last couple of months. I recommend people that have back problems to him all the time. I went to see about five other doctors before finding Dr. Falkenroth, all with some results, but not with the results that Dr. Falkenroth has given me. I am very happy that I found him when I did. He’s very very good at what he does. He’s also a person who really cares about his patients. I am able to do s

    - Mark W., Aptos Show More
  • I was referred by a co-worker. I have been suffering from low back pain due to an injury sustained at home, making it difficult for me to move without pain. Coming here to Dr. Falkenroth was a breath of fresh air! My first visit was great. I left here with less pain in my back, but still not sure about how his adjustments were going to help. About 4-6 weeks into the adjustments/treatments I noticed a very significant difference in my pain level. 5-9/10 down to 0-1/10 pain level. It is so nice to

    - Martel D., Aptos Show More
  • I met Dr. Falkenroth 4 years ago in Aptos. Dr. Falkenroth has been treating me and greatly helping me in my strenuous training. I have referred over the years my students and all of them have had a great experience.

    - Brice C., Aptos
  • At first I was skeptical about the effectiveness of the adjusting machine he uses, but I am now a huge fan. It instantly shows areas of my spine that are slightly out of whack that I might otherwise have simply written off as stress or tension. When something is out of whack, Dr. Falkenroth can pinpoint the area and treat it accordingly. I no longer suffer from chronic headaches and my back has never been stronger.

    - Brooklyn T., Santa Cruz Show More
  • Service is courteous, friendly, prompt – in a nice clean environment. Back pain was severe at beginning and has subsided substantially.

    - Byron G., Santa Cruz
  • My experience has always been positive. I was referred by a number of colleagues at Cabrillo College. My very first time seeing Dr. Falkenroth was very positive. He started seeing me because I got in a position of a work comp situation. Severe neck & back pain & tingling on the tips of hands & numbing. My condition has really improved… Staff has always been exceptional.

    - Rose C., Santa Cruz Show More
  • Dr. Falkenroth has helped me with my back & foot pain that has helped me to be more productive at my job. The experience has been excellent…

    - Curt N., Santa Cruz
  • When I started coming to Dr. Falkenroth my back pain was causing me to lose sleep; I was in pain most of the time. I followed the plan set out by Dr. Falkenroth, and I have noticed a huge difference. I’m not consistently in a bad mood anymore from back pain.

    - Kristy T., Santa Cruz
  • My injuries have subsided quite a bit. I don’t pull muscle as much and feel stronger. Overall I have had great results here.

    - Andrew V., Aptos
  • I’ve had problems for years and never dealt with them. After two visits, I could feel myself gradually begin to get healthier. It was good.

    - Jordan F., Santa Cruz
  • Dr. Falkenroth is very knowledgeable & his treatment is effective. Treatment is painless and has helped me very much.

    - Julia D., Aptos
  • First of all I would definitely recommend the clinic to my friends. As for being skeptical, Yes, I was, but then I’ve been going thru this pain for many years. I admire Dr. John’s honesty in explaining every move he makes. I know it has taken many years of abuse to get my body in this condition, but I’m like everyone else – looking for the sure cure like overnight.

    - Nancy S., Santa Cruz Show More
  • Dr. Falkenroth is wonderful! He is very knowledgeable, very accurate, he takes the time to understand the situation. I am very confident in his abilities. He is very kind and caring. His treatments are very gentle and don’t hurt. I have frequent severe migraines. I have just started treatment with Dr. Falkenroth and feel some real relief in my neck after the treatments.

    - Judith J., Marina Show More
  • I woke up one morning with a terrible pain that started in the back of my neck and ran all the way down my right arm. Not one to immediately see the doctor, I lived with this intense pain for several months. A friend told me about John, her D.C. and how he had helped her with pain so I made an appointment. He evaluated and treated me on the first visit and the pain soon went away after a few more visits.

    - Norma P., Soquel Show More
  • Treatments are really good and I love that they’re personalized.

    - Jennifer G., Freedom
  • When I began receiving adjustments from Dr. Falkenroth’s office using the Pro-adjuster, I not only began to feel much better, but there was no discomfort at all.

    - Vickie B., Scotts Valley
  • Dr. Falkenroth has treated my chronic pain as well as a more recent disc injury. The treatment is excellent, gentle and painless. This treatment allows me to function with less pain and has alleviated much of my back pain. I highly recommend this clinic above any other treatment.

    - Laura K., Scotts Valley
  • I came to the office with severe neck and shoulder pain. The treatments were painless and immediately effective. The massage chairs are so relaxing before each adjustment and the water massager after adjustments is wonderful. The office staff is friendly & organized. I look forward to each of my treatments.

    - Vicki S., Capitola Show More
  • I woke up with intense and aggravating low back pain that kept me from focusing on anything. I called in the morning and they had an opening that afternoon, thankfully. After the Pro-Adjuster, which helped relax my muscles and remind my spine how to be in correct alignment, I appreciated the additional expertise of Dr. John.

    - Dr. Krista A., D.C., Santa Cruz Show More
  • While massage is good for the person I’m working on, it can sometimes take its toll on my body. Dr. Falkenroth keeps my lower back, shoulders and hands working freely so I can do my best for my clients. For fun I dance, it keeps me fit. Sometimes I overdo it and the massage table helps with that.

    - Courtney B., Santa Cruz
  • Four years ago I was I a car accident where my neck and back were severely knocked out of line. After experiencing a year of pain I decided to come to Dr. Falkenroth. Since the beginning of my therapy my neck and back have become more in line and I am not experiencing any more pain. Dr. Falkenroth has been very accommodating, kind and helpful though my therapy and his great service will keep me coming back for years to come. I believe in Dr. Falkenroth and refer people to him as much as possible

    - Jeff D., Aptos Show More
  • …If I had put off any longer getting the help I needed I probably wouldn’t be enjoying my life, grandkids, or dog walks at all. I would say give it a try!! It is not invasive like surgery or shots and if it helps, you will be healthier, happier, more content and understand your body better.

    - Sharon E., Aptos
  • Since I began seeing Dr. Falkenroth for chronic (3 1/2 years) lower back pain, the pain has reduced. I am now able to do some of the activities I avoided due to the increase in discomfort the next day. He listens well and targets the right areas for maximum relief. The treatments were never painful and I always felt better after I left the office.

    - Christopher G., Aptos Show More
  • I am feeling much better since my car accident. I also noticed my neck isn’t cracking and popping like it used to. I am not taking Vicodin anymore since the pain has diminished to a manageable level.

    - Robert M., Aptos
  • Dr. Falkenroth has helped me in so many ways. My shoulder, back and hip were in bad shape due to my job as a hair stylist & salon owner. I got instant relief & have had steady results…

    - Donna P., Aptos
  • I had a bike accident. I felt pain in my back and other parts of my body especially my left foot. This treatment helped me a lot to recover, to walk normal again and to ease the pain that I am suffering. It took me like more than 2 months in my treatment and I hope even after many years will pass everything will be fine to me. Their treatment is remarkable especially the water massage.

    - Rowena R., Capitola Show More
  • It has been a very great experience to be treated by Dr. Falkenroth. His treatment is gentle, painless and beneficial to my whole body. Even though I haven’t been coming for very long, I’ve found that I feel better, my neck is stronger and has more mobility. In addition, my lower back has less recurring aches & pain. I’ve recommended Dr. Falkenroth to many of my friends already.

    - Kristin M., Santa Cruz Show More
  • Had consistent headaches from stress in neck which have disappeared. Also was ready to have knee surgery from pain caused by misaligned cartilage which has also lessened considerately.

    - Gigi P., Aptos
  • I was having terrible neck and shoulder pain limiting my being able to turn my head. I now have great flexibility with no pain.

    - Charlene H., Aptos
  • Dr. Falkenroth has made my back 100% better since I’ve been coming to him. I have no lower back problem near as much as I did. I would recommend him to anyone with back problems!!

    - Jim H., Capitola
  • Suffering from Carpal Tunnel is very painful. Through my treatments with Dr. Falkenroth I have a decrease in pain immediately & on an ongoing basis I have increased mobility in my arm and hand. I highly recommend Dr. Falkenroth. The treatments really work and the patient care is exceptional.

    - Laura R., Scotts Valley
  • Since seeing Dr. Falkenroth I have been able to cut down and even exclude allergy medications on a seasonal & year round basis. I also have less migraines eliminating dependence on preventative drugs and emergency medications. I sleep better and have lost weight now that I have more energy to put into my workouts.

    - Sarah K., Aptos Show More
  • I first came to Dr. Falkenroth for help in recovering from a broken bone in my foot. The result of the treatments was that not only did my foot heal quickly, but both my feet became more flexible than they had been in years. I was responding so well that I had my husband begin treatments for low back pain. Then my teenage daughter, who is a dancer, tore a muscle in her groin. Dr. Falkenroth helped her to get back to performing very quickly. I certainly recommend him for his painless and effectiv

    - Karen M., Watsonville Show More
  • I get adjustments by Dr. Falkenroth when my neck and back feel out of alignment or when I have muscle spasms. He can quickly and gently get things back into place. He is kind, efficient, gentle and funny. I love the massage chair and the Aquamassage – and the nature videos of beaches.

    - Carol W., Aptos
  • I hurt my lower back months ago. My neighbor recommended Dr. Falkenroth. The treatment is great. Pain is gone. I’m back to normal.

    - Joseph M., Capitola
  • Noticed a big improvement with my neck and back pain after about 3-4 treatments. I like the gentle adjustments – I would highly recommend it.

    - Diane S., Santa Cruz
  • I was rear ended in a car accident and was sent to a general practitioner and was given drugs to mask my pain. But I knew I wasn’t healing. Dr. Falkenroth’s approach was new to me. I decided to give this method a try and I have been very impressed. I feel like my body is healing properly and my pain has decreased significantly.

    - Robert A., Los Gatos Show More
  • My experience with Dr. Falkenroth and staff has been very positive from the beginning. His explanation of the treatment was easy to understand and the results have been very good…

    - Dale O., Soquel
  • I came with a pinched nerve in my neck. I got instant pain relief within three visits. I felt great with more energy no headaches and with full mobility of my neck.

    - Dennis J., Felton
  • It took about 5 weeks but definitely I could tell the difference. Treatments did not hurt. I would definitely recommend him to others.

    - Mark H., Santa Cruz

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