Back Pain – The Social Burden

The magnitude of lower back pain and neck pain in terms of suffering, medical costs, lost work time and wages, and disruption in the quality of life is absolutely staggering. Thirty-five million Americans are affected by these afflictions and the problem accounts for the country’s greatest health care expenditure, at $60 billion annually. Lower back pain and neck pain are the second most common reason for medical office visits(just behind the common cold) and the number one cause of lost work time and disability claims. Each year, 83 million days of work are lost, and back and neck pain sufferers spend 200 million days in bed. These patients spend almost two and a half times as much on health care as other patients, but those costs vary dramatically depending on socioeconomic and demographic influences and not on the condition itself. Lower back pain is the most common cause of inactivity in people under the age of forty-five. It is time we gave this epidemic our full attention. By doing so, we can help to loosen its grip on our society.

If you are like most people who have either lower back pain or neck pain, you have probably tried several different therapies over the years and have sometimes received some temporary relief. You have also gotten several different diagnoses, various explanations, and conflicting opinions, some from medical professionals and many, many more from well-meaning friends. The only things that remain constant, however, are your confusion, your frustration, and your recurring lower back or neck pain.

Well, there is help for your affliction and it is probably closer than you could ever imagine. Now, because wedging yourself into an uncomfortable chair and then not moving your neck is the last thing that you want to do when you are in pain, I will be as brief as possible. You must find the combination of therapies that is right for you, and at Sciatica Exercises we will help you to do just that. If you leave your care to someone else–someone who has maybe two hundred other patients to think about or someone whose understanding of back pain and neck pain hasn’t changed since medical school twenty years ago–here is what you are likely to get.

See a general practitioner, and he will probably prescribe pain medication and maybe a muscle relaxer and tell you that the pain will go away. If it doesn’t, he’ll refer you to an orthopedist. Orthopedists most often prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy and tell you that the pain will go away. If it doesn’t, he will refer you to a neurologist, who will run a battery of tests and then repeat what both of the other doctors have already said. Next up you have the surgeon, and if you make it to this point, the surgeon will undoubtedly repeat what everyone else has already told you and if the pain persists, the surgeon will want to operate.

Try the alternative care route, and you will find that the chiropractor will prescribe manipulation and adjustments. The acupuncturists will needle you. Massage therapists will rub a little, and though massage feels good, it has not been shown to influence the outcome one bit. Psychologists and psychiatrists–well, let’s just say that blaming your parents, your spouse, or your boss won’t make anyone feel better physically.

Now, it is not my intention to sit and bash respectable professionals, and there may be times when you will need some or all of them, but it has been my experience that they just have a hard time seeing beyond their own practices. So, if you really want help, and you do not mind doing some of the work yourself, then you need to do the necessary research to make an informed decision about your pain. After all, it is your back.

Author: Health Care on June 22, 2011
Category: Back Pain

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