February 28th 2014, 11:11 | Bryan Hubbard
The statistics speak for themselves. At some point, 85 per cent of us will suffer from back pain and yet medicine is still at a loss for how to treat this medical epidemic. Despite all manner of sophisticated gadgetry and high-tech surgery, including lumbar surgery, spinal fusion and surgery for slipped discs, surgical success only happens in some 1 per cent of cases.
As Gordon Waddell, orthopaedic surgeon at Glasgow's Nuffield Hospital who helped draft the Royal College of General Practitioners' guidelines for treating back pain, once wrote: "Our failure is in the 99 per cent of patients with simple backache, for whom, despite new investigations and all our treatments, the problem has become progressively worse."
One reason for medicine's persistent failure in treating back pain is that it looks upon it as a disease in itself rather than as a symptom of another medical condition. Co-editor Bryan Hubbard has unearthed evidence showing that back pain is often caused by hidden infections, heart disease, bladder issues or even stress, and dealing with those primary causes usually resolves the pain in your back. But even if your back pain isn't caused by these four hidden factors, we offer a recipe of the best supplements and treatments with solid evidence to help keep you flexible and pain-free for good (page 24 of March issue of WDDTY).
Medicine keeps changing its mind about what exactly constitutes safe blood pressure levels and when they become hypertension, and determining high blood pressure has long been more a matter of fashion than good science. Lately, a group of leading cardiologists uncharacteristically raised the bar on the line between safe and unsafe, so that anyone aged 60 or over with blood pressure up to 150 mmHg is now considered healthy (the previous bar was 140 mmHg). That's a handy decision as the evidence is coming in that beta-blockers, the mainstay of treatment for hypertension, can be a killer (page 18 of March issue of WDDTY).
Besides hypertension, another medical myth concerns the dangers of home births, and the need to have your baby in hospital in case of emergency, but the facts show that, all things considered, when it comes to giving birth, there's no place like home (page 22 of the magazine).
And while we're on the subject of received medical wisdom, indefatigable science author and broadcaster Tony Edwards, who has written a new book-The Good News About Booze-explodes a number of myths about alcohol, including the entrenched view that booze makes you fat (page 32 of March issue of WDDTY).
You know all about the benefits of eating your dark leafy greens, but new evidence shows that how you store them plays a huge role in whether the vegetables you buy still pack a nutritional punch. Our raw-food chef Mark'eta Bola offers tips on how to retain nutrient levels and also gives us greens to help us detox (page 53 of the magazine).
And speaking of healthy practices, if you've got to do one exercise to improve your mobility and your daily life, let it be the squat, says our resident exercise expert Paul Chek (page 40). And for those of you with cats, if your pet has taken to excess grooming, here's a simple regime to sort out its hair and skin issues (page 50 of March issue of WDDTY).
Find out how Susan Lake brought her mum Lorrie back from dementia, and how a woman who couldn't even recognize her daughter was singing complicated arias by the end of her treatment (page 58 of the magazine). If you've had a bad smear test, discover the many alternatives to recovering cervical health, and also holistic ways to keep your gums in the pink (page 44).
Wi-Fi is fantastically convenient and has given us instant access to the internet, but is it safe? A growing body of research suggests otherwise, so this month, our electrosmog doc Guy Hudson offers simple ways to stay plugged in without being constantly bombarded by those invisible rays
(page 56 of March issue of WDDTY).
Medical detective Harald Gaier offers a handy guide to which drugs given to the elderly interact with other medications, along with 12 simple steps to avoid drug toxicity (page 64 of the magazine).
If you're still recovering from the Christmas splurge and January sales, in our Healthy Shopping section managing editor Joanna Evans has sourced the best budget buys and found a load of non-toxic goodies for under a tenner (page 70). And if you could do with a good night's sleep, check out our selection of natural ways to beat insomnia, all likely to gently lure you off to the land of Nod.