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No Pain, Big Gain How do back products retailers spell relief? S-A-L-E-S.

By David Doran

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

America is a nation in pain--back pain. According to theAmerican Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, back painaffects one in four Americans and is the second- leading cause ofwork absenteeism. Unlike many ailments, back pain is often broughton by nothing at all: A sedentary lifestyle, combined with longhours of sitting in awkward positions, puts a great deal of stresson the fragile cartilage discs that support and cushion the spine.These discs degenerate with age, making back pain a commoncomplaint among seniors, whose numbers are expected by the U.S.Census Bureau to more than double from 34.3 million to 78.8 millionpeople by 2050.

Although traditional medical remedies such as drugs and surgerycan sometimes relieve or eliminate back pain, the high cost ofhealth care and the chronic nature of back problems are prompting agrowing number of back-pain sufferers to seek alternative methodsof relief. "More people are taking responsibility for theirown backs," says Dr. Joel Press, a Chicago physical medicineand rehabilitation specialist. "There's a lot [the medicalindustry] can offer in terms of education about what types ofactivities to do and what kinds of things to avoid, but I thinkpeople are taking the next step and asking what they can do aboutthe problem."

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