People often ask me what the most common condition is that I see, and while I see a wide variety of issues, I would have to say that orthopedic conditions are the number one reason why people come in. Within that, back pain is far and away the most common complaint. In fact, most surveys of primary care physicians find that back pain is the number one or number two most common reason why people come in (insomnia is usually number one or number two as well).
As so often happens in my practice, I get the latest news on a given condition or procedure from my patients. In the age of the Internet, it seems that nearly anybody who is curious about a given subject may find information on it on the web, though there is also a lot of misinformation out there. Just the other day, hey patient with a history of back pain referred me to an article in the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of functional restoration as an alternative to many of the more invasive procedures often given as the standard of care for back pain. Rather than summarize the article, I am pasting it here to share with you (http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-help-for-back-pain-1448311243?mod=e2fb).
A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine out April 17 provides evidence steroid injections for back pain are no more effective than a placebo. Because the long-term benefits of surgery remain unproven and pain medicines often have serious side effects, doctors have increasingly turned to steroid injections to treat lumbosacral radiculopathy, a common cause of back pain. The researchers conclude that steroids may provide some short-term analgesic effect, but that the improvement in all of the patients was mainly due to normal healing. The best thing for back pain, according to the study’s author? Exercise. See a quick summary of this research from the New York Times’ website.