The Washington Times - October 8, 2008, 12:56PM

Researchers reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that Americans are spending $86 billion a year on treating neck and back pain, probably more than any other ailment. However, the researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle, found that the dramatic rise in expenditure’s may not be improving the patient’s health. Researchers wrote in the report: “We did not observe improvements in health outcomes commensurate with the increasing costs over time. Spine problems may offer opportunities to reduce expenditures without associated worsening of clinical outcomes.” The largest increases appear to be expenditures related to drug treatments. Pharmaceutical expenditures related to back and neck pain almost doubled between 1997 and 2005. But the cost associated with prescription narcotics rose more than 4 times. The use of strong narcotics also have he potential for serious side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, prolonged use of narcotics can result in dependency and increased sensitivity to pain.

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