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By: Lauren Fleishman and Claudia Kalb

The Great Back Debate. Is massage better for you than surgery? As millions of Americans seek relief from this ancient ailment, doctors are trying simpler, less invasive ways to end the agony. Pins and needles: Turned off of costly and unreliable back surgery, back pain sufferers are exploring alternative treatments likemassage and acupuncture. Stop rubbing your sore back for a minute and take a quick tour of Mother Nature's engineering masterpiece: the human spine. Pretend you are Alice, so tiny you can climb among the muscles, nerves, bones and ligaments that make up the very core of your body. Crawl down the 24 vertebrae that encase and protect the spinal cord, from the cervical spine to the thoracic area to the lumbar region, that pesky lower back. Note the 23 rubbery white discs: the cartilage inner tubes that cushion the vertebrae. Observe the dozens of spinal nerves threading out from the cord between the bones. Poke the bands of muscle that wrap and support the bony column. Now focus on the tugs and thuds of daily life. The quick bend when you pick up your sobbing 2-year-old, the pounding of your feet as you run to catch the bus, the steady pull of your untoned belly, the dull pressure as you sit bleary-eyed in front of your computer, the sudden twist of your golf swing. Feel, too, the constant emotional stress we all live with: worries about aging parents, the kids' SAT scores, an IRS audit, mayhem in Iraq. Finally, imagine (or recall) that knife-in-the-back moment when something suddenly goes wrong with all that gorgeous spinal anatomy: Owwwwwww!

Like an expensive but temperamental sports car, the human spine is beautifully designed and maddeningly unreliable. If you're a living, breathing human being, you have probably suffered the agony of back pain. Eighty percent of Americans will battle the condition at some point in their lives, making it the No. 2 reason for doctor visits (after coughs and other respiratory infections). Already, back-pain sufferers cost this country more than $100 billion annually in medical bills, disability and lost productivity at work. And as long as we continue to lead overweight, sedentary and stressful lives, that number is unlikely to go anywhere but up.

As it does, legions of new back-pain sufferers, many desperate and even disabled, will seek relief. When they do, they'll quickly discover just how complicated their problem really is, with its mystifying mix of physical symptoms and psychological underpinnings. The reality is that the torment will usually go away on its own, impossible as that may seem when you're writhing on the kitchen floor. But pain is pain, and Americans, especially baby boomers, want a quick fix. The result: spinal-fusion surgery, the most costly (about $34,000 a pop) and invasive form of therapy, has spiked dramatically? 77 percent in the United States between 1996 and 2001. But many of these procedures simply don't work. Doctors, worried that far too many patients seem far too willing to go under the knife, are now actively looking for simpler, more effective ways to treat one of the most vexing problems in medicine. "We've come to the point where we have to think out of the box," says Dr. David Eisenberg, head of Harvard Medical School's Osher Institute, where he is studying nonsurgical alternatives like massage, acupuncture and Chiropractic. "The time is now."

Back pain can originate anywhere in the elaborate spinal architecture. Degenerated discs, which may lead to herniation and compressed nerves, are a common problem. Then there are those wrenching spasms provoked by muscle, tendon and ligament injuries, which can drop grown men to the floor. What's most mysterious about back problems is the disconnect between anatomical defects and pain. Unlike blood pressure and cholesterol, which can be easily measured with arm cuffs and blood tests, lower-back pain has no objective way; the volume of tears; the intensity of a grimace; to be gauged. In many cases, the precise cause of pain remains unknown. 

Imaging tests have found that two people with herniated discs can lead radically different lives: one spends his days popping painkillers, the other waltzes through life like Fred Astaire. In one well-known study, researchers sent 98 healthy people through an MRI machine: two thirds had abnormal discs even though none complained of pain. In other research, experts compared a group of patients who reported back pain with a control group who didn't. Close to two thirds of the pain patients had cracks in their discs, so-called high-intensity zones, or HIZs. But so did 24 percent of the noncomplainers. "The real issue," says Dr. Eugene Carragee, the study's lead author and director of Stanford's Orthopaedic Spine Center, "is, why do some people have a mild backache and some have really crippling pain.”

Response From Dr. Gregory Jean-Pierre of Upper Cervical Institute of FL. 

While it is true that too many people are willing to go under the knife, recent study does show that more and more americans are seeking alternative medicine. As the article points out, surgery simply doesn't work. In fact, in many of the patients that I see in my office, after having had the surgery, the pain is made worse. 

The only profession that spends all its time studying the human frame (spine), are chiropractors. if you have a brain tumor, would you go to a person that does brain surgery as part of his practice, or one that does brain surgery on a daily basis, all day, everyday? 

In my office, the spine is what I work with all day, everyday. We focus on the brain body connection and how that can affect your spinal alignment. We get great success with people with back pain on a daily basis. The treatment is effective with no side affects. More importantly, it will not cost you $34,000.

If you like what you read, please share it with your friends and family. If you would like more information, please don't hesitate to call the office and make an appointment for a complimentary consultation. Don't worry, it's not a commitment for care, simply a conversation to see if this is the right fit for you. 

Keywords: low back pain, herniated disc, diseconomy, disc fusion, upper cervical, Dr. Jean-Pierre, Boca Raton, cheek-up, sick care, headaches, high blood pressure, fatigue, pain, chronic pain, body, brain, brainstem, chiropractic, illness, atlas, health problems, NUCCA, thoughts, traumas, toxins, subluxation, upper cervical

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marker  7301A West Palmetto Park Road, Suite 304B
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