Clueless on Back Pain

The Los Angeles Times featured an article on July 24th titled, “Back Pain Backlash” which discusses new findings in research and a new focus of dealing with the issue of back pain.

The article opens with the statement that “research has revealed the futility of some treatments for aching backs” and points out that doctors are changing their focus.

The article highlights that today, “easy access to medical care may actually contribute to epidemic backache rates” according to researchers. According to the article, the term “treatment” implies that the condition of back pain can be diagnosed and cured yet researchers point out that “expecting a cure may make the problem worse.”

Among things now found to actually make the problem worse are bed rest, traction, steroid injections and aggressive surgery, according to researchers in the article.

According to the article, both bed rest and traction have been found to “weaken the muscles supporting the back and make the problem worse.” And surgery? The article mentions that although back surgery was quite popular previously, it is probably only necessary in as few as 2 – 5% of cases.

On the spine the article states that, “the spine is a dense corridor of nerves, mantled in cartilage and bone, sheathed in ligaments and muscle. Each of its 33 bony joints is separated by gel-filled fibrous pads called disks, and the whole intricate rigging could go wrong in any number of ways.”

The article points out that there is no shortage of back pain experts but that among chiropractors, physicians, and physical therapists, “no one knows for sure what’s happening.” Basically, no one has a clue, and high-tech testing such as MRIs don’t help much either.

What about all the tests, the therapies, treatments and diagnoses? An orthopedic surgeon that has documented back pain throughout history stated that “we must conclude that much of low back disability is iatrogenic [caused by medical treatment]” according to the article.

The article states that “the most important step” may be to recognize that “if you don’t consider back pain a medical problem, it’s not one.” The article ends with a quote from a French novelist that should be posted in every office:

“For each ailment doctors cure with medication, as I’m told they occasionally succeed in doing, they produce 10 other ailments in healthy individuals by inoculating them with a pathogenic agent 1,000 times more virulent than all the microbes: the idea that they are ill.”

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Los Angeles Times: Back Pain Backlash
If you are searching the L.A. Times website, the author is Benedict Carey. @ 7:38 am | Article ID: 964535889