Backache is a nearly ubiquitous complaint. Unfortunately, our supporting skeletal system was probably made for creatures that walk on all fours and does not suit human bipedal existence. Long periods of sitting and strenuous lifting, bending, and stretching are probably not good for the back. Degenerative disease of the back and disc herniations are extremely common. The report of a normal lumbosacral spine film in a person over 30 years old usually means the radiologist was asleep when reading the films or preoccupied with some other thoughts. Back pain is probably the most common cause of disability and workman''s compensation proceedings and payments. Sufferers are not only poor workmen but back pain also hampers most leisurely activities and severely affects sleep and other activities performed in beds (sufferers know exactly what I mean). Back pain is one of the most common complaints brought to physicians. Neurologists are often asked to see patients with back pain whether or not root pain or neurological symptoms are present. In fact, neurologists are often asked to consult on the most difficult problems, and to see the most difficult patients. This section is devoted to the evaluation of patients with low back disorders, and the next Issues in Neurologic Practice will consider their management. In subsequent sections, I will aks experts to discuss neck disease. Because the whole subject of degenerative low back disease is so complex, I have asked the experts to limit their discussion to patients with back pain and root symptoms that suggest herniated disc disease. These are the patients probably most often referred to neurologists.

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