Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting On the Road to Recovery

HarperCollins Publishers (May 9, 2017)  ISBN-10: 0062641786 , ISBN-13: 978-0062641786

HarperCollins Publishers (May 9, 2017)

ISBN-10: 0062641786 , ISBN-13: 978-0062641786

Like much of my work over the past four decades, the inspiration for Crooked emerged from personal experience.


I’d struggled with backache and sciatica for years. Like millions of other back pain sufferers, I was overwhelmed with ill-defined options for treatment. Which would work? Which would simply drain my wallet? And which might leave me in worse shape than when I began? As I struggled to answer these questions, I realized that I had plenty of company. In the United States, the cost of treating back pain exceeded $100 billion a year, and much of that money was wasted on ineffective tactics.

What started as my straightforward effort to resolve an annoying problem turned into six years of investigative reporting and writing. The book is handily divided into Part I: Problems, and Part II: Solutions, and if you have to read Part II first, that's okay. Well before you finish reading Crooked, you’ll understand that the pain in your back (or your hip or your leg) also exists in a political, psychological and economic context that greatly influences how you’ll be treated – and if you’ll recover. You'll know which approaches are likely to reliably bring you some relief, and exactly what's involved in each.

My goal with Crooked is to set the back pain industry’s offerings in their proper context, so that patients have the information they need to make good decisions; to know what works sometimes, what works rarely, and what can cause harm.