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Dr. Norman Marcus: Unnecessary Spinal Surgery Will Cost Billions of Health Care Dollars in 2009

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New York – January 6, 2009… During 2009, millions of Americans will undergo unnecessary and costly spinal surgeries and injections or be given mind-altering drugs that fail to eliminate their back pain -- unless their physicians recognize and treat the actual source of most back pain, says pioneering pain specialist, Norman Marcus, M.D.

It’s muscles, not the spine, says Dr. Marcus.

Back pain is the most common disabling pain experienced by Americans, and, according to the National Institutes of Health, eight out of ten people will suffer from it during their lifetime.

Dr. Marcus is Clinical Associate Professor in Anesthesiology and Psychiatry and Director of Muscle Pain Research at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine, a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and founder and medical director of the Norman Marcus Pain Institute (www.nmpi.com), which is dedicated to pain elimination, rather than pain management.

He says that despite more health care dollars than ever being spent on back pain ($86 billion yearly, almost equal to what is spent on cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association), treatments are failing, more people are suffering and the number who report that their pain is limiting their ability to function is increasing. The study makes it clear that the battle against back pain is being lost.

In addition, the annual productivity loss from chronic back pain is approaching $30 billion.

The reality is that most back pain originates in weak, stressed or damaged muscles, not in the spine, says Dr. Marcus, who has shown that muscle pain can be successfully treated without surgery or drugs,
Although muscles constitute 50 percent of the body, they are rarely even considered as a possible factor in low back pain, neck pain and headaches, says Dr. Marcus, who has found muscle involvement in over 75 percent of the more than 10,000 pain patients he has treated.

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HERWriter Guide

Hello Anon - I am sorry to hear that you are in pain every day, and understand your frustration. It's very common for patients considering any form of surgery to get a second opinion. Have you looked into that possibility? The more information you can get on the options available to you in your local area, the better. Please write back and let us know what you are doing and if you're in need of information resources.
We're here to help you.
Best regards,

October 26, 2009 - 6:00pm
EmpowHER Guest

i have received spinal fusion two years ago and it was a failed surgery now i suffer with pain everyday and also have a pinched nerve in the leg also from a back injury i am lost for words i got hurt on the job they made two attemts to try and fix it now they says they need to do a revision i dont know what to do but i am tired and stressed out with living with pain please help!!!!!!!!!!! your knowledge and writing was very helpful thank you very much the article alone would make me travel to virginia just to become a patient of yours its very encouraging.

October 23, 2009 - 8:32am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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