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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The $100 billion per year back pain industry is mostly a hoax

Anyone who has endured back pain knows it is an erratic dictator. It takes hold of your psyche, demanding your attention and devotion before all else—before you can plan a hike, return to a work routine, pick up your child for a hug. So when someone offers to make that dictator disappear, it’s hard to resist—no matter what the price.

“People in pain are poor decision-makers,” says the investigative journalist Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of a new book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery.

Millions such bad decisions, she argues, have fueled a $100-billion-per-year back pain industry in the US—one that’s largely selling Americans wrong and even dangerous responses to back discomfort. These include unnecessary painkillers, injections, surgeries, and chiropractic “adjustments.”

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15 comments:

Unknown said...

Yes, sirrie buddy. I am one of those affected. 5 spinal operations, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, injections, opioids (which opens you up to all kinds of abuse such as faking it, drug seeker, junkie, and other vile crap), unsympathetic doctors and nurses, and some of those docs and nurses that don't believe you, etc.

Not to mention the cost. Spinal fusion surgery, for instance: Involving the removal of worn-out or injured discs, then the fusing together of the vertebrae above and below that disc with metal screws and cages, this is the form of elective surgery that people spend the most on in the US, costing a total of $40 billion per year. The problem is, it rarely works.

That is true for me also. And they try to blame the failure on the patient. And what they don't tell you, in the beginning, is that when they fuse one area that puts added stress on the area above and below it, thereby needing future surgery on those areas as well.

Like many others like me, I wish I never had the first operation, and I would NOT recommend it to anyone. I have turned out worse than when I started, but when you're in pain you will try anything.

Anonymous said...

What a great article. Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

For over 30 years I've had low back pain. Since then it's more or less a constant thing. I wake up stiff in the back every day, and I've been the gamut of treatments except for surgery (which is not on my list), but the years have taught me that if I let it control me, it will. Today I'm relatively comfortable without any drugs except occasional Motrin, but what does it for me is getting myself out of bed every day and doing stretching and exercise every single morning.

Jim said...


My family has used chiropractic for many years. My 8-year-old son has scoliosis, but his spine is almost completely straightened out at 19 after many years of care prevented it from getting worse.

There are a lot of areas of truth in this article, but most of the criticism of chiropractic care is just wrong.

I have a number of places in my thoracic spine and neck that frequently go 'out' and cause not only pain, but it affects my organs and makes me feel somewhat ill. Getting it moved back in the proper alignment usually gives INSTANT relief, and it lasts until I do some of the usual things that make it go back out.

You can say what you want about chiropractic, but you're too late with me, cause I know it works when done right.

Jim said...


" what does it for me is getting myself out of bed every day and doing stretching and exercise every single morning."

That's the ticket. If you can tone up your muscles and keep everything moving right and held properly in place, that's a lot of the battle.

Many people with back trouble are grossly overweight and don't do much more than just sit. Getting to the proper weight and staying there will eliminate many of the problems.

Anonymous said...

Stretching, exercising, a diet rich in anti-inflamatories, and a really good mattress are a good start. I've also had great success with good chiropractic, but it took a while to find a good one.

Anonymous said...

sometimes my elbow hurts but I do my stretches and a Tylenol I'm ok. I saw a guy with a arm totally crushed but I think he should just deal with the pain. Don't let it control you at least that's what I told him. He was screaming to loud to hear me.

Anonymous said...

If your disk ruptured just use some breathing techniques mind over matter. You will probably lose the ability to walk because of nerve root severe impeachment. Breath and drag yourself and go to work.

Anonymous said...

Stretching, stretching, stretching cannot be emphasized more and more. Walking and stretching are mandatory as we get older. Plus its FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rebel Without a Clue said...

Tramadol!! It's a great way to start the day! I don't take it every day but I do find that it is a great pain reliever for when I do anything strenuous that involves excessive bending and twisting. Arthritis and Spondylolisthesis will get the best of me if I don't get ahead of it. That and of course the Chiropractors at Delmarva Chiropractic, they are the absolute best bunch of Chiropractors that I've ever found.

Anonymous said...

11:18....stupid, stupid, stupid advice. The most stupid advice I have ever heard. But I am glad you don't have a spine problem or pain.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, when you have back problems it's
REAL PAIN, I know cause I've had it. Thank
God the surgery worked----if it had not I
would still be on Oxycodin. You just
cannot tolerate that pain!

I do think many people out here are on
narcotics that don't actually need it. A Dr.
should definitely Know , who's faking and who
is not after extensive testing of the patient.

Anonymous said...

Research the McKenzie Method and find a physical therapist certified in it. Go see them, even if u have 2 travel a little. Well worth it.

lmclain said...

TWO herniated discs. Nucleoplasty procedure. At least 20 steroid injections. MRI's and electrical nerve tests.
With unexpected electrical jolts from the waist to the toes. Those jolts can drop me to my knees and it won't matter where I'm at....
Extended periods of pulsating electric-type jolts (every 20-45 seconds). Some days, NO medications can help.
A good night's sleep? Maybe 5 times in 10 years.
Just because your stupid teenage kid took your perc's and died or got hooked on heroin does not give you the right to withhold pain med's from people who actually need them.
Quit trying to solve your personal tragedies by making everyone else live the way YOU think they should.
Anyone with REAL back issues is calling BS on the homeopathic cures and some "doctor" tapping on your spine to make you feel better. Does he dance around fire, too, while chanting incantations??
If you ever had the pain some people have with their spine, you'd shut the "let's get rid of opioids" BS up.
There's a big difference between back ache and back pain. Most of you don't seem to know that.
Why don't you "concerned citizens" start working on the cigarette and alcohol problem, which, by the way, kills HUNDREDS OF TIMES more people than Percosett has EVER done?
11:18 and 10:55? I got the sarcasm, but not everyone did, huh?

unknown said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
11:18....stupid, stupid, stupid advice. The most stupid advice I have ever heard. But I am glad you don't have a spine problem or pain.

June 30, 2017 at 9:26 AM

I agree, unless he was being sarcastic like imclaim suggested.

NOBODY will understand real back pain unless they experience it themselves. Maybe it's hard for them to grasp. I've been in chronic pain for over 11 years and 5 operations. I've tried everything, injections, therapy, drugs, massages, you name it I've done it.

I wish I never had the first operation. And for those who say Motrin and Tylenol work for them, all I can say is good for you but I don't believe you. Or you were never in pain to begin with.

That's just my opinion. No one knows how much pain someone else is in or not in. And one cannot measure it on a scale of 1 to 10 or any other such nonsense.

I wish all of you best however. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.