TUESDAY, Nov. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Surgery for back pain can often improve patients' sex lives, researchers report.

"The impetus behind our study was to initiate the process of understanding how back surgery affects patients' lives," wrote the researchers led by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Shane Burch, from the University of California, San Francisco.

"An important aspect for many patients includes sex life," the researchers said.

The study included 825 patients with degenerative spinal disease. Of those, 531 underwent some kind of surgery while 294 received nonsurgical treatment.

Before treatment, 55 percent of the patients said they had back pain that affected lovemaking.

Three months after treatment, less than 20 percent of surgery patients still had back pain during sex, compared with 40 percent of those who had nonsurgical therapy, the study found.

The improvement among back surgery patients lasted through four years of follow-up, according to the study. The results were published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Spine.

Surgeons and other doctors caring for people with back pain should be aware of and discuss the impact back pain has on sexual functioning, the researchers said.

"We have very limited data to discuss this topic, and we need to do a better job for our patients to inform them of what to expect after surgery," Burch said in a journal news release.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on back pain.