Back Up: Why back pain treatments aren’t working and the new science offering hope
Liam Mannix

Paperback | Aug 2023 | NewSouth | 9781742238081 | 336pp | 210x153mm | GEN | AUD$34.99, NZD$39.99

Back pain is the one of the world’s greatest public health challenges. It is the leading reason we visit the doctor, the leading reason we take time off work, the biggest cause of disability worldwide. One in 10 people will develop chronic back pain. And rates are growing.

A multi-billion dollar industry exists that claims it can fix back pain — by shrinking discs, melting nerves, cutting spines up and putting them back together. Yet leading experts say that more often than not, all this expensive medicine is making things worse.

Liam Mannix is one of the many who experience back pain, and he takes this as a starting point for this compelling and urgent work of investigative journalism. A theory has emerged, born from cutting-edge neuroscience, that claims back pain often has little to do with the back or the discs or the spine. Instead, back pain is all about the brain. This new science offers new solutions — including, remarkably, evidence that just by teaching people this theory of pain we can reduce it.

‘Forget everything you think you know about back pain. This book will do your head in, which is exactly what needs to happen. That’s where the answers lie.’ — Dr Norman Swan, medical journalist and host of ABC Radio’s Health Report

‘Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Australia and this book argues that this need not be the case. When the biggest predictor of chronic back pain is job satisfaction, something is wrong with our anatomic, mechanistic understanding of this common condition. Back Up sets the record straight by confronting our current understanding of pain, and chronic pain in particular.’ — Ian Harris, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and co-author of Surgery, the Ultimate Placebo: A surgeon cuts through the evidence

‘Back Up is an important book for anyone with chronic pain to read. It illustrates how too much medicine is significantly harming patients, rather than helping them. It should be a wake-up call for health professionals and patients.’ — Sophie Scott, Adjunct Associate Professor in Science Communication and former ABC national medical reporter

‘This bold and engaging investigative book by Liam Mannix will have you questioning what you thought you knew about the back, and how we experience and treat pain.’ — Aisha Dow, health editor with The Age

‘A concise and clear overview of both the science and treatments, Back Up is a vital resource for anyone grappling with back pain.’ — Warren Bonett, Books+Publishing

‘Engagingly written and an intensely fascinating subject...I'll be buying a copy for my physio and bothering others with what I've learnt.’ — Dymocks Adelaide

'This is an empowering deconstruction of the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies and our pain.' — Sydney Morning Herald / The Age