LETTERS:The private cost of back pain therapy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Besides the cost to the country of back pain ("Back pain treatment `ripe for rethink' ", 7 December), there is a direct cost to the sufferer which is not restricted to loss of earnings.

I refer to the fees we pay to private physiotherapists. When GPs are unable to do other than treat our symptoms with analgaesics or mild anti-inflammatories, we take ourselves for private therapy at £20 per session. For me this works, but each acute attack takes five sessions or more, or £100 plus.

While I resent having to pay outside the NHS for treatment for what is clearly a common ailment, so far I felt this to have been "worth it" a couple of times a year and, for the rest, I live with what luckily are lower levels of pain. I hesitate, however, to speculate on how much treatment I should be able to afford should acute attacks become more frequent, or how much pain people on lower incomes simply endure.

If back pain is so common and so debilitating, physiotherapy or other known effective treatments ought to be more cheaply available.

Yours sincerely, MICHAEL ATKINSON High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire 7 December