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Increased Spending on Low Back Pain

Martin BI, Deyo RA, Mirza SK, et al. Expenditures and health status among adults with back and neck problems. JAMA 2008;299(6):656-664.

In this article, this study examined national expenditures for back and neck problems or related trends from 1997 to 2005. In 1997, the mean medical expenditures with spine problems was $4695 compared with $2731 among those without spine problems. In 2005, the mean medical expenditures with spine problems was $6096, compared with $3516 among those without spine problems. And total estimated expenditures among those with spine problems increased 65% in this time, without significant reports in improvements in health status measures. Although expenditures for outpatient visits accounted for the largest proportion of total cost, the greatest relative increase among expenditure categories was due to increased medication use. This article demonstrates that traditional management of low back pain, which includes imaging, injections, medication intake and other conservative management interventions are not providing proper solutions, and causing an inflated rate in expenditures. A more broad, but defined perspective of what pain is, and what it can do to alter the neuro-musculoskeletal system needs to be explored to fully understand how to treat it. We will continue to explore this in the blog site.

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