An open letter to the NBC Nightly News, with Brian Williams.
re: NBC Nightly News: Back Story
October 6, 2008, "Back Pain Epidemic Outpaces Treatment Options."
and October 7, 2008, "Cutting Down on Back Pain without Surgery."
The videos from NBC's broadcast are at the end of this post.
In October, the NBC Nightly News published two videos and two broadcasts about back pain. In response to this story, I’d like to bring to your attention as well as the attention of Brian Williams and Robert Bazell, two articles recently published in the British Medical Journal that answer the questions raised on the Nightly News.
1) “Back Pain Epidemic Outpaces Treatment Options”
Brian Williams aired this story on back pain and treatment options. The numbers quoted were beyond belief: we spend $90 billion a year in the US on back pain treatments; $60,000 per surgery.
2) The following night, Mr. Williams showed the video, “Cutting Down on Back Pain Without Surgery.” He began by saying that they double-checked the numbers from Monday's broadcast because they were so unbelievable; it turns out that they’re real. Robert Bazell, NBC News Chief science correspondent, ends the video saying, "...but experts say most people should try a non-surgical treatment first."
3) A recent study shows 85% reduction in back pain without surgery and with zero serious adverse effects, through 24 lessons in the Alexander Technique. The study results were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on August 19, 2008; it is known as the ATEAM Trial. See: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/aug19_2/a884
4) On December 11, 2008, the BMJ published another article as well as an online video: "ATEAM Trial; the Economic Evaluation,” about the cost-effectiveness of the Alexander Technique as shown by the study. See:
The American Society for the Alexander Technique (AmSAT) provides the following results from the study:
579 patients were involved in this multi-center clinical trial, which is one of the few major studies to show significant long-term benefits for patients with chronic non-specific low-back pain. BMJ, 2008;337:a884
One year after the trial started and following 24 Alexander Technique lessons the number of days in pain fell by 85% compared with the control group. The average number of activities limited by back pain had fallen by 42%.
In real numbers:
Control Group = 21 days of pain per month
After 6 lessons plus exercise = 11 days of pain per month
After 24 lessons = 3 days in pain per month
I am reaching out on behalf of the millions of people who have or will suffer with back pain. Surely this method offers sufficient potential to be investigated and reported on by the NBC Nightly News. If the results are as published in the British Medical Journal, then this is indeed an idea whose time has come. The Alexander Technique: a non-invasive, gentle, educational method for self-empowered care. The Technique is recognized in Israel, England, Australia, and many other countries from Switzerland to Brazil. It has been in continuous practice for over 100 years and is offered at over 50 Universities and Conservatories across the United States.
It is time to save money and save backs.
Please let me know how I may be helpful in providing information or pointing you to sources to investigate this further.
Certified Alexander Technique Teacher, M.AmSAT
Contact me at: dbenyehuda(at)comcast(dot)net
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A way out of Back Pain without Surgery