The Bad Back Guy: Back Pain, Sciatica, and Continuity of Treatment

by coachz on March 18, 2009

Back Pain and Sciatica Sufferers Seek Treatment in Record Numbers: Are They Recovering? Recent Studies Say No!

Millions of back and sciatica sufferers seek medical help every year. In a recent study, conducted in the United Kingdom and reported in the British Medical Journal, it was reported that seven percent of the population presented for medical treatment due to back pain and sciatica in a single year. Given the same kind of numbers in the United States, the number of actual patients presenting with back pain is staggering. Given the current population of the United States, at 306,028,200 (, probably up since the writing of this article, that’s an incredible 21,000,000 plus individuals annually presenting with back pain in the United States. That is, of course, if the numbers carry over, and why wouldn’t they? The question, raised by researchers in the above mentioned study, had to do with recovery rates for patients initially examined and then followed until the cessation of pain, or the cessation of visits to the doctor’s office. In other words, were patients ceasing to visit their medical practitioner because they were no longer in pain? The commonly held belief within the medical community was that the back pain and sciatica sufferer had indeed recovered, no longer in need of medical assistance.

The objective of the study was to determine if the ninety percent (90%) of back pain and sciatica episodes that had apparently resolved themselves within a month’s time were in fact resolved, pain free. The study looked at all patients, two hundred and three men and two hundred and eighty-seven women, consulting their medical practitioner during a one month period. The patients, 6.4% of the practices in the study group, were then followed at increments of one week, then three months, and finally at one year. At three months following the initial consultation, a very small number of patients had indeed recovered. The majority of patients were either in the same amount of pain or worse. Additionally, at one year the number of back pain and sciatica sufferers had not improved significantly. In fact, as was the case at the three month increment, many were in greater pain and disabled. The fact that so few patients had actually recovered underscores the persistent, recurrent nature of this complex pain issue. Probably the most perplexing finding was that nine out of every ten back pain and sciatica sufferers stopped seeing their
physician by three months.

The study debunked the notion that back pain and sciatica sufferers ceased seeing their medical practitioner because they had recovered. Of the four hundred and ninety patients, two hundred and seventy-five men and women (59%) visited one time and stopped, another one hundred and fifty (32%) continued to three months and ceased to visit their physician, and after one year only one in four (25%) had recovered and were pain free. The findings validate the interpretation that back pain and sciatica sufferers stop seeking medical treatment within three months of the initial visit to their physician but remain in pain. Not only do the patients continue to have pain, the level of pain often increases, as it did during the one year study period. Ultimately, the findings from the study demonstrate the fact that the majority of back pain and sciatica sufferers do experience varying degrees of pain, and even disability, after seeing their medical practitioner. The findings raise the following question: Can treatment, instituted early enough in the pain complex and consistently followed, improve the final outcome, hence reducing the recurrent, and often cumulative effect of back pain and sciatica with its medical, economic, and even social consequences and considerations? The study is suggestive and it seems apparent that early, consistent, and prolonged treatment may, in fact, be the best strategy for the patient suffering from back pain and sciatica.

The following programs are excellent for neck pain, back pain, and sciatic nerve pain or sciatica:

John P. J. Zajaros, Sr., The Bad Back Guy
Skype: johnzajaros1
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