A lot depends on what's causing your back pain. For example, if you have muscle or soft-tissue pain, you're not likely to benefit from surgery. If your pain is caused by a herniated disk, or nerve damage, you might be a candidate, if non-surgical treatments haven't worked.
Some operations are routinely more successful than others. If you experience pain that radiates from the back down into your legprobably sciaticathen your pain is likely caused by a herniated disk or stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal canal), compressing the nerve. Laser surgery used to decompress herniated disks is successful up to 90% of the time, by some estimates, while, according to a 2002 article in the Journal of the Southern Orthopaedic Association, surgery to treat stenosis is effective about 70% of the time.
Degeneration is harder to treat
Surgery for pain that comes from the lower back alone and is caused by degenerative disk diseaseordinary agingis often less predictable and successful. It can be difficult to determine the exact cause or origin of the pain, let alone to factor in the impact of social, psychological, and other factors that can exacerbate it.