Back pain costs $90 billion/year

A Duke University study has concluded that back pain costs the US economy $90 billion a year.
"To put these expenses in perspective, the total $90 billion spent in 1998 represented 1 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the $26 billion in direct back pain costs accounted for 2.5 percent of all health care expenditures for that year," said lead researcher Xuemei Luo, Ph.D., who published the results of the Duke study today (Jan. 1, 2004) in the journal Spine.
OK, here's a thing: from the age of 17, right up until September 2002, I suffered from really bad back pain. I would spend a couple days a month laid up on the sofa, unable to move, and I'd go through a couple bottles of over-the-counter pain meds a month. I developed chemical burns on my back from overuse of "deep heat" patches and Tiger Balm. I saw a doctor who told me that I would likely need to have my spine fused.

Then I read this really weird, hippy-trippy book by Richard John Sarno, a guy who appears to be to back pain what Atkins was to dieting a couple years back, a fringe researcher with no independent verification of his results and a slightly suspect, "They laughed at me in Vienna, I'll show them all" affect that makes it hard to take his stuff seriously.

Sarno advocates a kind of self-hypnosis or self-interrogation to relieve the mental causes of back pain, and states that it works even if you don't believe in it. Well, I tried it. 24h later, I began the single longest period of pain-free living in my adult life. I haven't been laid up in over a year now, and I take painkillers for headaches, not back-aches.

Your mileage may vary, but after more than a year of this, I'm ready to start talking about it. Like Atkins for weight loss and hypnosis for smoking cessation, Sarnoid back-therapy feels something like getting root on my body, like being able to move into user-controlled space stuff that the OS was badly mismanaging in the background. Link