“Low back pain is the single most common complaint to MD’s…”

This is the opening line from both Low Back Pain and Clinical anatomy of the lumbar spine circa 1979 and 1987. Grieves referred to LBP as an “epidemic” in 1983. Innumerable authors recognized it as the most common entrance complaint to family physicians (behind colds & flu) in the US (these studies being as early as the late 1960’s). So LBP is certainly like an epidemic accounting for some 45% of disability claims and recognized as the single most likely work-disabling condition worldwide. The question is when did it begin?? I am approaching 30 years in practice and my years at Palmer had a focus on LBP and its ubiquitous nature. The DC who sent me to Palmer, himself having been in practice for 35 years by 1983 always said: “bad low backs will keep you in cash!” Additionally he’d always refer to the “lazy” back i.e. folks who (now some 50 years ago) didn’t do enough “real work” to keep their back strong (and IF smoking is a contributor why didn’t our forefathers who all smoked continuously not necessarily suffer from it as much…?) So whether there is a “modern” epidemic of LBP depends on several things; the quality of reporting and diagnosis of it, the degree or tolerance the society allows you to complain about it and the assumptions that there are reputable treatments for it. Perhaps it’s our awareness and focus that has changed (at least in the last 75 years) not our backs. 

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