Back Pain 1500 BC to Today

Posted in History at 11:38 AM by Dr. Greathouse

Scribes below.

(poor posture contributes to back pain)

Above left, the oldest surviving description of back pain. The Edwin Smith Papyrus (c. 1500 B.C.) written by an Egyptian scribe. Supposedly a prescription for treatment of some kind.

Cautery was used for sciatic pain as early as 100 AD and is still used in some cultures today.

<—- Yikes!┬áBurning with a red hot iron(sciatic leg pain)!

We use Mineral Ice & Ben Gay today :)

Fuller (1852) concluded that ” the history of sciatica is, it must be confessed, the record of pathological ignorance and therapeutic failure.”

Greathouse (2011) concluded “not much has changed since 1852.”

We have approximately 22 different types of health care providers that treat back/sciatic pain, most of which have their own idea of cause and treatment type. In other words, diagnosis and treatment are practitioner training dependent, not valid diagnosis dependent. This is and always has been one of the biggest problems over the years in treating back pain. Currently our outcomes are still poor and the costs are outrageous! Science tells us 85% of all back pain is “Non-specific.” That means without a diagnosis. Without a diagnosis it’s anybody’s guess. And, therein lies the problem.

Good News! A small faction of health science is beginning to get it right! Next post, “Getting it Right.”