• wellness

    Is The $100 Billion Back Industry A Hoax

    I’ve been reading this new book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry by investigative journalist Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, which makes a point that some cures – an appalling $100 billion worth to be exact – are worse than the disease.

    Back pain is a pretty widespread condition. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and it’s the second most common cause of disability in the United States. Men and women are equally affected.

    The severity of back pain ranges from acute to chronic. Most low back pain is short-term and resolves on its own without a loss of function. Pain that lasts 12 weeks or more is considered chronic.

    The back pain industry

    Treatment for the condition is where the back pain industry comes in. Cures vary depending on whether it’s acute or chronic. Simpler treatments can include hot or ice packs and limiting bed rest (and continuing regular activities without bed rest). For chronic back pain, a multitude of treatment options exist, from acupuncture surgery.

    Related post: Posture and Back Health

    Ramin shares in her book that she had struggled with chronic back pain for decades, stemming from an incident when she was 16: she flew off her horse and landed on her hip. She spent $8,000 on a minimally invasive surgery, but her pain didn’t subside. It even appeared that the surgery gave birth to neck aches that weren’t there before.

    The back pain industry offers many cures that should address the pain. The most common surgery patients opt for is spinal fusion surgery – essentially a “welding” procedure that fuses together multiple vertebrae into a single bone to make the spine stable. That gets a $40 billion-slice of the $100 billion industry, although the success rate is a measly 35 percent.

    Shifting perspective

    Ramin said her goal with her book is to give proper context to what the back pain industry offers patients, and to provide patients with information needed to make good decisions. She says that seeing a chiropractor for more than one to two sessions is a waste of time and that they don’t solve back pain.

    Related post: Elbow Tendinitis

    As a professional photographer, my neck and low back are constantly pushed to hold positions that are terrible for my back health. Add in the iPhone forward-head disorder that we all seem to have, and I find myself speaking to some sort of doctor, massage therapist, or physical rehab person regularly. These professionals really save the day for me. But clearly not all professionals have our best interests in mind.

    While patients funnel so much money into the back pain industry, two simple things can solve the condition, Ramin says: exercising and shifting our perspective on back pain. To do the latter, she suggests finding someone who has an understanding of the musculoskeletal system and can help you build strength and more effectively balance your gait.

    Find out more about Ramin’s book here. To learn more about back pain, click here.

    David Stewart
    David Stewart
    David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

    More Stories

    Hiroshi Fujiwara, 55: Men’s Style Icon

    The realm of what is acceptable and what is possible in everything to do with people our age needs some radical expanding. What does...

    Ann-Sophie “Fred” Lakso, 56: Love and Sex Addiction Therapist

    People call you Fred — where did that come from? My real name, Ann-Sofie, always ended up as either Sofie or Ann. One time somebody...

    AGEIST Arts and Culture Roundtable Dinner

    From time to time we like to assemble some of the leading minds in the AGEIST network for dinner and discussion around a specific...

    Quick and Easy Raw Coconut Protein Balls Recipe

    This Keto Coconut Recipe Is Sure to Make Your Sweet Cravings Disappear By Ingrid De La O. All photos by TUSOL Wellness.These are so fast...

    Fully Alive at the Modern Elder Academy 

    Waking to the sound of Pacific waves breaking had become a welcome change to the usual morning symphony of traffic and sirens in our...

    LATEST Profiles

    Ann-Sophie “Fred” Lakso, 56: Love and Sex Addiction Therapist

    People call you Fred — where did that come from? My real name, Ann-Sofie, always ended up as either Sofie or Ann. One time somebody...

    David Turns 61: The most creative and productive year of his life.

    Today is my 61st birthday. It feels different from 60, weightier. But really, the whole idea of being anywhere near this age is a...

    Wesley Rowell, 59: The Accidental Preacher

    At the age of 59, Wesley Rowell became a preacher. This was not something he had ever imagined doing.“I turned 59 on Sep 21...