By Patti Neighmond and Richard Knox, NPR
More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they’ve recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It’s one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.
America spends more than $80 billion a year on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.
In fact, there’s evidence that many standard treatments for back pain — surgery, spinal injections and painkillers — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.
Dr. Jerome Groopman agrees with that premise. He suffered back pain for almost 20 years. He was a young marathon runner 32 years ago when back pain struck out of the blue.
“I couldn’t run. It was difficult to sleep,” he says. “I wasn’t confined to bed, but I was hobbling around.” Continue reading