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Back Pain Books Worth Reading

Published June 3, 2021
| Written By SpineNation Editorial Staff  
When you receive a diagnosis like Spinal StenosisSpondylolisthesis, or Degenerative Disc Disease, odds are you've never heard the terms before. Most people don't remember the anatomy of the spine and neurological system beyond the time it takes to pass high school or undergraduate science courses. The terminology can be daunting. 
There is an overwhelming amount of information available regarding back and neck pain and spine conditions. So much so that it can be challenging to know where to begin or what sources to trust. For this reason, we have compiled a list of the six books worth reading for those living with back pain. Whether you are newly diagnosed or staying educated and informed about effective treatments and tools for your condition, we believe this reading list can help.

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Back: A Consumer's Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lower Back Pain 

by Donald Steven Corenman, MD., D.C.

Everything_you_wanted_to_know_about_the_back.jpegAccording to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the No. 1 cause for disability among adults globally. The ACA further reports that up to 80% of the American population will experience back pain in their lifetime. Many believe that our sedentary lifestyle (we work and play sitting down a lot) is the most significant contributing factor to the prevalence of back pain. 
The anatomy of the back is complicated. In addition to the spinal cord and spinal column, bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles comprise the makeup of our back. Our list begins with a feature for every type of back and spine patient.  
Suppose you are new to the chronic pain and spine rehabilitation world. In that case, this book will aid your understanding of the anatomy of the back and spine. The reader will better understand how the back and spine work and what different diagnoses mean. Corenman is a medical doctor and a doctor of chiropractic medicine with more than 30 years of experience under his belt. The book is written as a consumer guide in simple, easy-to-understand language.

Why this book is worth reading:

This book will provide readers and patients (and their caretakers) with thorough knowledge of the anatomy of the spine and the different causes of lower back pain.

3 Weeks to a Better Back: Solutions for Healing the Structural, Nutritional, and Emotional Causes of Back Pain (The Sinett Solution) 

by Dr. Todd Sinett

If you're familiar with our site and community, you may recognize the name Dr. Todd Sinett. Dr. Sinett is a Chiropractor, founder of Tru Whole Care, inventor of the Backbridge, and author. 3 Weeks to a Better Back is on this list because it covers a little of everything you need to understand as a patient to manage chronic back pain.  
There are four sections to the book, and it reads like a simple-to-follow guide or manual. The reader is not overwhelmed with confusing medical terminology or overly complicated advice. The reader begins by learning how to identify the pain they're feeling and understanding the inflammatory process. 
Next, the reader learns about structural causes of back pain and the anatomy of the spine, and the role of things like good posture and core imbalance. The third section covers the impact of our diet and digestion regarding spine health.  
The unique quality is that Dr. Sinett walks the reader through concrete, actionable steps and a 3-week dietary plan complete with recipes and specific ingredients lists for shopping. If the reader follows the diet plan for three weeks, they'll begin solidifying what foods work well for their body and which don't.  
The fourth and final section of the book confronts the emotional connection to chronic back pain. Our emotional health is as important as our physical health. Poor mental health can exacerbate illness and chronic pain conditions. Dr. Sinett guides the reader through those connections and where to go to find mental health care.

Why this book is worth reading:

It is a complete how-to guide for getting to know one's body inside and out. The book includes simple, actionable steps and recipes. These qualities make it easy for the reader to apply what they've learned to their everyday lives and improve their quality of life.

Low Back Pain Program: Effective Targeted Exercises for Long Term Pain Relief 

by Sherwin Nicholson


Sherwin Nicholson is a medical research scientist who has been in the field for more than 20 years. The book makes for light reading; the printed version is only 70 pages long and includes full-color illustrations and guides for each suggested exercise. 

Nicholson's Low Back Pain Program packs an enormous punch for such a small package. Over 170 illustrations demonstrate how the reader should perform each exercise. Like Sinett's book, Nicholson breaks Low Back Pain Program into four sections. The first section of the book includes 13 limited mobility exercises for getting things started. These will help the reader to gain stability and regain flexibility. 
The second section of the book includes 19 progressive exercises that help strengthen the muscles and joints of the lower back, preventing injury. Next, 13 challenging exercises retrain the reader to move safely and develop better body mechanics. Finally, 11 maintenance exercises are provided for limiting and preventing chronic back pain and are designed to be performed daily. 

Why this book is worth reading:

The book's brevity and the guided illustrations make the book incredibly accessible and approachable to all kinds of spine patients. The material is compact and incredibly useful.

Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection 

by Dr. John E. Sarno

Healing-back-pain-book.jpegThis book ranks at 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over 3,900 reader ratings! It is also a New York Times Bestseller. The first two books on our list both have sections that address the mind-body connection. This book is an essential deep dive into understanding how our emotions impact our physical health and well-being.

More specifically, this book addresses how things like repressed anger and high anxiety levels impact our musculoskeletal system and trigger things like painful muscle spasms. Back pain can cause depressive and anxiety disorders and exacerbate mental health disorders that already exist. Chronic back pain patients must address their emotional health at least as much as their physical health in care plans and lifestyle choices.

Why this book is worth reading:

Dr. John E. Sarno is a research pioneer in the world of back pain and the mind-body connection. This book introduces patients to case histories and research regarding Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS) and how emotion impacts our pain.

 TMS is not yet widely recognized in the medical community but is often discussed among patients and support communities.

How to Be Sick (Second Edition): A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers 

by Toni Bernhard, J.D.

Toni Bernhard was a successful and accomplished academic and professional. She had been teaching law at the University of California, even serving as the dean of (law school) students for six years. Suddenly, in 2001, Bernhard became ill while on vacation with her husband. A short time after, she learned that she would be chronically ill. 
Berhard's diagnosis demanded that she retire from teaching and create a new vision for the life she would lead. The first edition of How to be Sick was published in 2010 and eventually became a best-seller. Bernhard writes conversationally, making the book approachable to a broad audience. The language isn't intimidating or hard to grasp for the average reader.  
Buddhist principles inspire How to be Sick, but as Bernhard says, it is not parochial. It is not designed to conform or convert the reader. This book differs from others on our list because it is inclusive of the caretaker. Whether that be a romantic partner or spouse, or family member, the secondary trauma of living with someone who has chronic, debilitating pain and illness is authentic and genuine. 

Why this book is worth reading:

While patients need to be mindful of their body, mind, and spirit, so do the caretakers who love us. Bernhard's two other titles, How to Wake Up and How to Live Well, serve as excellent follow-up reading material.

Do You Really Need Spine Surgery?: Take Control With a Surgeon's Advice 

by Dr. David Hanscom

Dr. David Hanscom is an orthopedic spine surgeon and author whose practice focused on patients with failed back surgeries. He quit his practice in Seattle, Washington, to present his insights into solving chronic pain, which evolved from his own battle with pain.

Dr. Hanscom's latest book, Do You Really Need Spine Surgery?: Take Control with a Surgeon's Advice,
 is intended for health care providers and patients alike. Dr. Hanscom's goal in writing this book is to assist patients in making clear and informed decisions about undergoing spinal surgery.

Why this book is worth reading:

It's not often that those living with chronic pain run into specialists or surgeons who have experienced the same type of pain. This book is unique because it is a quick read and greatly simplifies the decision-making around surgery.


Chronic pain, especially related to the back and spine, can be complicated and challenging to diagnose. Patients must stay as educated as possible so that they can be their own best advocates. Knowing the back and spine anatomy will help when communicating with medical professionals and a patient's care team. Patients will be more proactive in preventing further injuries and caring for damage that has already occurred by reading the selections listed here.
Updated: June 7, 2021

Information provided within this article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for medical advice. Those seeking specific medical advice should consult his or her doctor or surgeon. If you need to consult with a specialist, you may be able find a health care provider in our Specialist Finder. SpineNation does not endorse treatments, procedures, products or physicians.

Contributors and Experts

The SpineNation's Editorial Staff is comprised of writers proficient in various areas of journalism. Their sole responsibility is to write content consistent with the mission of SpineNation.