Back pain costs
7 Healthcast: Back pain costs
"I just can't sit, stand or walk for any kind of extended period of time," said Bruce Wilson, a spine patient
After five surgeries and nearly $270,000 in medical bills, Bruce can no longer work and is still in pain today. New research suggests he's not alone.
"We're spending a lot more money as a society on treatment and diagnosis of back problems but we're not getting clear cut results from it," said Dr. Brook Martin of the University of Washington
Researchers at the University of Washington analyzed data from national healthcare surveys from 1997 through 2005. They found costs for treating spine problems had increased roughly 65 percent. Americans spent an estimated $85.9 billion on spine care in 2005 and the proportion of adults reporting limitations in physical function increased from 21 percent in 1997 to 25 percent in 2005.
"We need to look more carefully at newer technologies and newer procedures that cost more and see if they really make a meaningful difference for patients," said orthopedic surgeon Dr. Sohail Mirza.
Outpatient visits and expensive prescription drugs contributed to the increase in cost.
"That's alarming that we may be over prescribing, over utilizing and over treating people with back problems," Dr. Martin said.
"I used to be able to do so much," Wilson said.
Researchers say it's important to remember the latest technology does not always guarantee pain relief. They hope their findings will prompt patients to ask more questions in order to make the most informed decision possible.(Copyright 2008 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)