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Back pain surgery, Subluxations

"The ambiguity inherent in diagnosing back pain makes it possible for surgeons to do practically anything they want."

-- Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of a new book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery.

Crooked weaves together her compelling personal story and those of compatriots in back pain of all ages. It also follows the money, revealing the hidden motivations of many industry players: workers compensation insurance companies, pain management specialists, the drug companies that make narcotic painkillers, personal injury lawyers, spinal device makers, and spinal surgeons, especially the ones who advertise late at night, often touting their laser surgery. All appear to make a living by exploiting the "fix me" pleadings from people in pain.

This is not to suggest that all spine surgeons or specialists are villains, of course. Sometimes surgery is necessary, though many top spine specialists interviewed for Crooked agreed that surgery is overused. A spinal surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Hyun Bae, explained why this might be, saying, "It's not only a financial conflict. It's an emotional conflict. We get paid to do the work. We want to make the patient better. So we concentrate on the good results and we dismiss the bad results."

Subluxations are said to be spinal joints that have slipped out of alignment, and some chiropractors will explain that they lead to back pain, digestive issues, mood disorders, and more. Ramin reports that they are impossible to point at on an x-ray, because they don't exist; a dislocated joint in your spine would be the result of a horrendous injury that sends you to the hospital, she explains, not to a massage table.


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