Back in Control – Dr. David Hanscom

| July 11, 2014 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

Back in Control

For many people, experiencing back pain is like stepping into quicksand. Patients who are otherwise perfectly healthy all of a sudden feel like they’re sink- ing into the depths of pain and despair. They struggle to escape, but just go deeper. Often there was no dis- tinct event or injury that caused the back pain, and so they don’t even know how they ended up there.

If their symptoms do not resolve quickly, they do the obvious – confer with their primary care physician. This perfectly logical step too frequently leads to poor- ly supervised and ineffective care – typically some mix- ture of medications, physical therapy, spinal manipu- lation, and various alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture. If a patient continues to feel pain, his or her primary care physician is likely to recommend consulting with a surgeon.

Many spine surgeons are only too willing to offer help to these patients, who by then are fearful enough and demoralized enough to accept anything that sounds like a solution to their problem. Surgeons ra- tionalize recommending spinal surgery by pointing to a structural abnormality in the patient’s spine that is suspected to be the source of the pain. (This rationale can always be given since virtually every adult has de- viations from textbook spinal anatomy, even though research has shown that the correlation between spinal pain and many of these “abnormalities” is virtually zero.) The patient undergoes spine surgery, has a poor result, and then embarks on an odyssey to find a practitioner who will give him relief. But instead of relief, there’s more pain: they have additional invasive procedures that make their problem worse.

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