As I sit writing this I feel a nagging pain in my foot that various doctors and physical therapists have decided is actually caused by an injury to my back. The pain radiates down my leg: only at its very worst do I ever feel anything in my lower back. At its very worst (which must not be bad compared to other people's bad backs, or so my orthopedic surgeon tells me), I can think of nothing else. It becomes the focal point of my universe.
Interestingly enough, I know exactly what will cure it; I simply have to stop doing the things I enjoy doing that caused it in the first place. But because I'm not willing to do that -- like thousands or maybe millions of others like me who don't want to stop jogging or playing tennis or whatever -- I do what everybody else does. I keep looking for the next best thing: back exercises that will fix me up, aspirin to keep me going, stretches that might prevent a re-injury. (I personally don't think back exercises help, but I do them as a kind of magic ritual.)
And, like everyone else who has a bad back, I read everything I can on the latest theories/cures/treatments, which is why A. M. Chaplin's cover story this week should have wide appeal. She may not have The Answer, but at least you'll know you're not alone.