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Back pain continues to cost billions

Back pain continues to be one of the most common reasons Americans seek medical treatment and one of the most common reasons people apply for Social Security Disability Insurance. And it’s not just the lower income, manual laborers who suffer from this chronic condition; it’s also the world’s richest business tycoons and executives who spend hours staring at the computer screen. In fact, according to a new CNN report, “Back pain has become the scourge of the modern office worker.”

How much does back pain cost us each year?


Back pain is a high dollar industry. In fact, according to a 2004 study, Americans spend up to $90 billion per year on medical treatments, surgery, medications and health care. Unfortunately, even given the money spent, many patients continue to have excruciating pain long after they get treatment.

But recent studies suggest that many patients are now avoiding some of the most common back pain treatments in favor of a new treatment called the Gokhale Method. Developed by Esther Gokhale, who has been hired by Google to ease its workers’ back pain, Gokhale has developed a series of posture-changing movements, which she argues allow people to relearn simple ways to move.

Gokhale, who suffered from her own back pain, argues that many people have “forgotten how to use their body in such simple everyday things as how to sit, how to bend, how to walk and even lay down,” she says. Gokhale, who promotes classes to retrain the body, argues that after the lessons many of her students have their back pain disappear.

Why does Gokhale work?


Gokhale and other back pain experts argue that the traditional western medical community often blames spinal defects for back pain when the real issues might be postural imbalances. Because the West often treats symptoms, not the cause, they may not help the patient correct some of the postural imbalances which have lead to the spinal defects. Experts argue if you treat the cause, not the symptoms, the pain is more likely to go away without continued treatment or medication.

New technologies are allowing patients to have their posture reviewed and analyzed. Through this process patients can identify what may be causing their postural issues. After the problem is found new treatment options are suggested.

What if postural strategies do not mitigate back pain?


What if your back pain cannot be cured through postural strategies such as the Gokhale Method? Experts suggest that even if you remain a proponent of common back pain treatments it’s still a good idea to eliminate postural issues first. If postural changes do not help, the next step is to determine if the issues are actually physical.

For instance, Dr. John Sarno, who is a medical doctor at the NYU Langone Hospital, claims that he sees thousands of patients who have pain that could be brought on by emotional issues, issues which can also exacerbate other serious health conditions such as stomach issues and headaches. Sarno’s theories remain controversial in the medical community, but he argues that his methods of treatment combined with new postural exercises have helped many patients he has treated in the past several years.
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