The Accidental Author! (Part 1)
You can say I am an accidental author. My inspiration for writing came from decisively overcoming 25 months of disabling back pain and more.
It all began with a simple case of back pain. Over time, due to improper diagnoses and inappropriate treatments, I developed pain in my neck, shoulder, elbows, and knees, as well as pain and numbness in my arms, hands, and legs. I suffered from gastritis due to my use of prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. I was constantly in pain and became severely disabled. At one point the pain was so severe that I was not able to sit or stand for more than fifteen minutes at a time, climb three steps, walk farther than one hundred yards, carry more than four pounds, lift a milk container, or even write two lines. The most emotionally painful part was that I couldn’t allow my young children to get close to me.
My life became limited in ways that I had never imagined. I could not work and was faced with serious questions about my career, my future, and my life, especially as a husband and father. All this—and I was only thirty.
I was seen by general practitioners as well as back specialists and even a nationally known orthopedic surgeon. Each one had his own diagnosis. Osteoarthritis of the spine degenerated discs, sprained back muscles, a pinched nerve, herniated discs, leaky discs, and piriformis syndrome were the various diagnoses for my back and leg pain. I was prescribed a wide variety of different medications and treatments, some of which caused even more pain and disability.
Early in this painful and frustrating ordeal, I discovered that the medical professionals themselves were baffled by back pain. Not only did they have difficulty making an accurate diagnosis or prescribing effective treatment, but they also were incapable of providing satisfactory answers to my simplest questions about back pain:
• Why are the majority of people with back pain or chronic pain younger than fifty?
• Why, unlike a broken bone, does back pain not heal, instead, often lasting for years?
• If weak muscles are the cause of back pain, how strong do back muscles have to be for a patient to recover? Do we all need to become bodybuilders to be free of pain?
• If improper sitting and bending can damage the back, why don’t gymnasts and other athletes who put tremendous pressure on their spines suffer from debilitating back pain?
To these and many other questions, I was met with unconvincing responses, shrugged shoulders, or simply, “Well, that’s how back pain is!” In the face of the medical community’s apparent ineptitude in treating back pain—and the fact that some of the treatments prescribed for me actually made my condition worse—I realized that I could no longer afford to be a passive patient.
Search for Answers
I began to take an active role in my diagnosis and treatment, searching the available literature for a cure to my disabling condition—a condition so prevalent that it has become a national health problem. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of treatments for hand, neck, and back pain is disappointing.
• “Surgery has been found to be helpful in only 1 in 100 cases of patients with low back pain. In some people, surgery can even cause more problems.” The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research of the US Department of Health and Human Services reached this conclusion after conducting a comprehensive study of more than 10,000 cases of back pain.
• “Injecting methylprednisolone acetate [cortisone] into the facet joints is of little value in the treatment of patients with chronic low back pain.” This was the conclusion of three studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Annals of Internal Medicine.
• “Treatments [for whiplash-associated disorders] evaluated in a rigorous manner show little or no evidence of efficacy.” This was the finding of an exhaustive study conducted at McGill University. Researchers found treatments ranging from a neck collar to traction to be of little or no value.
• “Correcting carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common operations performed today. The only problem is, it often doesn’t work,” concluded researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
• “Up to 85% of back pain cannot be given a definitive diagnosis.” This was the determination reached by one of the foremost authorities on the subject, Richard Deyo, MD.
Even though these facts have appeared in some of the most authoritative and prestigious medical journals, you will not learn this crucial information from those who treat back pain, inside or outside the medical profession. Indeed, these treatments are used so widely that you might be shocked to learn that they don’t work in the majority of cases!
The more I perused medical journals and scientific literature, the more I came across such studies. I realized that what is really needed is an accurate diagnosis. Lack of a correct diagnosis is the number one reason why this condition has become a major health problem. As mentioned earlier, as many as 85 percent of patients with low back pain never receive a definitive diagnosis. Without a definitive diagnosis, a cure cannot be expected. Once the diagnosis is correct, the solution can be quite simple!
In my next post, I will share with you the answers to my questions, the discovery at New York University, and how I recovered rapidly to walk, run, climb, carry my children, and play karate. Stay tuned!