Back pain empties patients wallets in U.S.

It became much more expansive to treat back pain in the United States then before. In the past decade the total cost of for an aching back has increased 65 percent.

There are many reasons for this rise: more spending on medications, more advanced diagnostic tests and more frequent outpatient visits. More use of spinal fusion surgery and instruments added to the expense.

The specialists analyzed data from 1997 to 2005 from a nationally representative survey of patient health expenditures and health status.

The study showed that the average health cost for spine patients in 2005 rose to $6,096, compared with $3,516 for people without those problems.

The proportion of spine patients reporting physical, social and work limitations rose to 24.7 percent in 2005 from 20.7 percent in 1997.

Yet, for all of the spending there are no improvements among people with spine problems.

There has been discussion of the matter. Some specialists criticize higher drug spending and increased use of diagnostic tests. Others say that it’s best to be conservative and take a wait-and-see approach, especially in the initial stages of low back pain.

Yet there is no common agreement of how this problem should be solved.

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