A year of agony

by Ken Malloy

The swelling to my lower back did subside, however the pain remained – sometimes a low grade burn, other times a stinging, sharp and deep. Over the next year, I suffered and searched for answers. It was a long a difficult year of grinding lower back pain as well as profound fear, anger, frustration and sadness. Despite the creeping doubt that I would every find my way out of the pain, I never gave up hope. I read. I asked questions. I visited health care professionals who provided every possible treatment I could find. Each had a different diagnosis of my condition and, coincidentally, a different treatment strategy that would treat that exact cause.

Orthopedic surgeons, back specialists, chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists offered spinal adjustments, acupuncture, heat pads, ice packs, high voltage galvanic stimulation, ultrasound, and a variety of massage techniques. Some did quell the pain during treatment, other not at all, but the pain always came back. Again and again my hopes were raised and then dashed.

I had never felt so alone and trapped. Back pain controlled my life. The thought that I might never live a normally active life was devastating. The day-to-day pleasures of everyday living were slowly fading into a swirl of gripping fear, anger, sadness and frustration.

Where was Dr. Zimmerman when I needed him most? Clearly, family doctors who make house calls had gone the way of the Dodo bird. Besides, there were more important questions to be asked: Why was modern medicine failing me so badly? Why, in our age of technological advancement, was the effective treatment of such a common problem so elusive?

At first, I had no idea how common the problem was, but I learned:

  • Eight out of ten adults suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.
  • Back problems are second only to sore throat as our country’s most common ailment.
  • Nineteen million doctor visits are made for back pain annually.
  • Eight million new cases of back pain occur every year.
  • Back pain is the leading cause of work-related disability.

Clearly, I was not alone but rather part of a major epidemic, an unfortunate victim of a condition that appeared to be untreatable. Traditional as well as alternative medicine offered me nothing . Was I destined to live the rest of my life with the unpredictable pain and disability of a so-called “bad back”?

Angry and determined, I continued my search.