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Book and Media Reviews
July 28, 2010

Stabbed in the Back: Confronting Back Pain in an Overtreated Society

JAMA. 2010;304(4):472. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1036

After having authored The Last Well Person: How to Stay Well Despite the Health Care System and Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America, Nortin Hadler does it again. This time, he focuses on a condition he has studied and treated for more than 3 decades as a professor of medicine and attending rheumatologist at the University of North Carolina Hospitals. He calls it regional low back pain; others call it lumbago or simply backache. Regardless of the name used, this condition is a ubiquitous predicament of life. In this thought-provoking book, Hadler analyzes the evidentiary basis of the diagnosis and treatment of back pain with a fresh, no-nonsense razor. He questions medical dogma, especially regarding treatment options, sparing none—from potion to pill to invasive approach. Overtreatment, he maintains, often leads to escalating symptoms.

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