Seven Do’s: How to Eradicate Back Pain Before it Gets the Better of You (A Recipe for Getting on the Road to Recovery)

Did it happen when you were engaged in a standard daily activity, like brushing your teeth, emptying the dishwasher or carrying a couple of bags of groceries? If the answer to that question is yes, it is safe to presume that you have not been seriously harmed, and — no matter how appealing it seems — you should not retreat to your couch or bed and wait to feel better. The spine is not a fragile body part, no matter what many stakeholders in the back pain industry would have us believe. For more on this topic, you’ll want to read what Harvard psychologist Ronald Siegel has to say in Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery’s chapter 9, “Head Case.”

Nine Years Ago...

I’ve been an investigative reporter for four decades, but nine years ago, when I began to search for a solution to my own persistent back pain, I was as naive as any other patient. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this area of healthcare was especially rife with problems. The more I dug, the more I found, much of it absolutely startling. That’s why I decided to write Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, which is being published this week.

With Anxiety at an All-Time High, Expect Even More Back Pain Victims

First, a little background and a shameless plug. I’ve spent most of the last seven years writing Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery. The book is a hybrid, combining deep investigative reporting with a personal narrative, charting my journey as I find my way from disability to function. In the process, I learned a great deal about how treating chronic back pain, which afflicts about 70 million Americans annually, came to cost $100 billion each year. That makes it a legitimate public health crisis.

Finding the Right Mattress

Memory foam, dual-air technology, cushion firm, ultra-pillow top. Picking a new mattress requires wading through a stream of jargon. But do any of these features make a difference in your back pain?

BlogLiz SavageEquipment

A dense fog shrouds the church spires across the street, and I’m bundled up in a blanket and warm socks as I write. In San Francisco, where I live, you wouldn’t know it was summer... 

Apps for Back Pain

In this age of prolific technological development – where no matter what you need, “There’s an app for that!” – I’d been wondering how effective and accessible these apps really are when it comes to things that specifically defy digitization: namely, things that involve exercise, yoga and physical therapy.

Does Flying Have to Hurt?

Perhaps during a cross-country flight, boredom gets the best of you, and you reach in the seat back pocket for the SkyMall catalog. Flipping through pages jammed with products you didn’t know you needed, you are presented with options for back pain relief—from standard lumbar cushions and back supports to extravagant massage chairs to the downright wacky—a Swedish nail bed, anyone?

She's So Heavy: I Want You to Bag the Handbag

The more we have in our lives, the more there is that we can’t live without. That’s not a sweeping philosophical statement. I mean it literally: If we don’t bring practically everything we own when we leave the house, we’re afraid we’ll find ourselves stranded, desperate for that one thing we left behind: a full makeup kit, a change of shoes, yoga clothes and running apparel, the laptop with every bit of work we’ve done in the last five years accessible at a moment’s notice. Without these things, we feel insecure.

The New Mom's Guide to a Happy Back

As a new mom, I’ve accepted the fact that my lunch will probably consist of whatever I can grab from the fridge and eat with one hand, and I now consider the day a success when I squeeze in a shower. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves while caring for our little ones. And our backs are often the first victims of this self-neglect. Days spent lifting and carrying that ever-growing bundle of joy can lead to spasms and aches and shooting pains.

Keeping a Bad Back Safe On the Road

There was a time when no one who could afford to do otherwise dreamed of carrying his own luggage.  That was what porters were for. As you might have noticed, if you’re a fan of PBS’ Downton Abbey, even a couple of weeks in the country (attire for formal balls; mandatory tails for dinner) required such items as a campaign bag, a carpet bag, a dressing case, a hat box, and a steamer trunk. The last item was impossible for a single person to carry – even empty.