Most Back Pain Could Be Cured Without Surgery or Drugs if Doctors Treated Muscles - Not the Spine - Says Leading Pain Specialist

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 General News
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NEW YORK, April 8, 2008 If you're suffering from back painand unable to find relief, it may be because the real cause of your pain --weak, stressed and damaged muscles, not your spine -- has never beenrecognized or treated, says Norman Marcus, M.D., one of the nation's leadingpain specialists.

Back pain is the most disabling pain experienced by Americans, and,according to the National Institutes of Health, eight out of ten people willsuffer from it at some point. "With nearly one million spine surgeriesperformed in the U.S. each year, and a failure rate as high as 50 percent, toomany patients either undergo spinal surgery that is doomed to fail, or are puton mind-altering drugs to manage, but not end, their pain," says Dr. Marcus.

"The reality is that muscles are the primary source of chronic back pain.And muscle pain can almost always be successfully treated without surgery ordrugs," says Dr. Marcus, the founder of the Norman Marcus Pain Institute(, which is dedicated to eliminating pain, not just attempting tomanage it.

Dr. Marcus, a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, isClinical Associate Professor in Anesthesiology and Psychiatry and Director ofMuscle Pain Research at the NYU School of Medicine. He co-founded New YorkCity's first pain center, at Montefiore Hospital, and developed and served asChief of the Pain Treatment Service in the departments of Medicine andPsychiatry at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital for fourteen years.

Dr. Marcus's pioneering protocols for diagnosing and treatingmuscle-related pain have brought back pain relief to thousands oflong-suffering patients, many of whom had given up hope.

Muscles represent more than 50 percent of the body by weight, but arerarely even considered as the source of pain in such common problems as lowback pain, neck pain and headaches, says Dr. Marcus, who has found muscleinvolvement in over 75 percent of his chronic back pain patients.

Dr. Marcus credits his conversion from helping patients live with theirpain to actually curing them to Dr. Hans Kraus, the legendary physicalmedicine and rehabilitation specialist. Dr. Kraus, whose muscle-strengtheningexercises and trigger point injections eliminated most of President John F.Kennedy's crippling back pain, is recognized as the father of sports medicinein America and was the driving force behind the President's Council onPhysical Fitness.

Dr. Kraus developed landmark tests that evaluate muscle strength andflexibility and a series of simple exercises to correct muscle weakness andstiffness, which led to the largest and most successful back treatment programever conducted. 300,000 people participated and 80 percent of those surveyedreported either the complete elimination of back pain or considerable relief.The results were even better for those who had undergone back surgery.

For five years, starting when he was 85 years old, Dr. Kraus spent tenhours every Tuesday ("Tuesdays with Hans") with Dr. Marcus and his painpatients at Lenox Hill Hospital.

He taught Dr. Marcus how to diagnose the four causes of muscle pain:tension, deficiency (weakness and or stiffness), spasm, and trigger points.And he showed him how to cure his patients' pain through a program ofexercises and, when hardened knots (trigger points) were present, withmuscle-softening injections.

"My patients' pain relief was so great, at first I found it hard tobelieve," says Dr. Marcus. "Seventeen years later, thanks to Hans Kraus, Icontinue to see it daily."

Working with the Stevens Institute of Technology, Dr. Marcus has developeda compact muscle pain detection instrument that can identify a muscle that iscausing pain in any area of the body, from low back pain to shoulder pain,neck pain and headaches. Dr. Marcus believes that the device, which can beused by any doctor, could help to a

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