Back pain sufferers can wind up desperate for relief. But just because a treatment is new, expensive or elaborate doesn't mean it will actually make you feel better. Eighty percent of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and while the majority of cases resolve quickly, 30% recur, according to the North American Spine Society, an association of spinal health professionals based in Burr Ridge, Ill.
A 2008 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., found that the percentage of U.S. adults seeking medical help for spine problems rose from 12% in 2000 to 15% in 2005. Rising significantly, meanwhile, are expensive treatments and surgeries that may not help patients much. The same study found that patients are spending more money on back pain treatment -- an average of $6,096 per patient in 2005, up from $4,695 in 1997 -- without seeing corresponding improvements in how they feel.