Where There’s Back Pain, There’s Profit

Thought I should give you a taste of  Naomi Freundlich’s post on the current overuse of complex back pain surgery to encourage you to read it all.

An article last year in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine documented enormous growth in tests and treatments targeting back pain including “a 629% increase in Medicare expenditures for epidural steroid injections; a 423% increase in expenditures for opioids for back pain; a 307% increase in the number of lumbar magnetic resonance images among Medicare beneficiaries; and a 220% increase in spinal fusion surgery rates.” Despite the dramatic increase in interventions, there is little evidence that patients are reaping the benefits: the rate of disability from back pain was even higher in 2005 than in 1997.

In 2007, spinal surgery was number one on Consumer Reports’ list of the top 10 overused medical tests and treatments. “In 90 percent of cases, the pain goes away on its own within six weeks,” wrote the authors of the report.

via Health Beat: Where There’s Back Pain There’s Sure to be Profit.

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