As an author of 2 books on lower back pain and sciatica, I have to confess I haven’t read all of the below books thoroughly, although I did skim them prior to writing my second back pain book . There are hundreds of books on back pain, so I picked the ones with the best reviews on Amazon – I had to filter somehow 😉
This book has been around for longer than I’ve been practising osteopathy and is now in its 9th edition. Mr McKenzie is a New Zealand physio and brings a good deal of clinical experience to his writing. He is very focused on exercises, and although that is a strength of the book, I think it’s also a weakness, in so far as the exercise regime is pretty prescriptive and doesn’t give a range of approaches for different types of lower back pain. That said it has many many positive reviews and disciples.
Ms Key is also a physio but her book is written in a very easy-to-read style, with good illustrations and explanations of a range of lower back conditions, including slipped discs, facet joint problems, joint instability and more.
Dr Sarno takes a very different approach, focusing on stress and emotion as the major cause of back pain, he helps the reader to identify whether this is the predominant factor for them then guides them through a process of recovery and prevention of recurrence. With an average of 4.5 stars from 271 amazon reviews, a lot of people agree with his approach.
Ms Gokhale has a very strong focus on posture and movement, relating a lot of back pain to the habits of modern-day westerners, who she compares (unfavourably) to hunter-gatherers and people engaged in more manual work. The book is well-written with great images and takes you through her whole approach to postural re-education. It’s pretty light on pain science, but that’s OK, as that’s not her specialism. I liked it so much I considered enrolling on one of her training programs.
I have to admit to being a big fan of Dr McGill’s work. He has conducted a huge amount of research into the biomechanics of the spine. Although aimed at the back pain sufferer, it’s not the easiest read – I got a lot out of it as an osteopath. He does have more textbooks on the subject matter, marking him out as a proper scientist, but I think he’s one of the rare bread who crossed over into clinical work too. His focus is entirely on the mechanics, and as someone who’s heavily into the science of pain, I think there’s a big bit missing that makes it a bit too cut and dried, but that’s true of nearly all the books in this review.
This is the book I have looked at least, but on quick review now, I really like the look of the content – I can’t vouch for the presentation (writing and illustrations). Mr Boxcer is an experienced physiotherapist and although it looks as though his book is out of print, you can pick up second hand versions or the kindle version. It’s the only book that addresses safety issues first (for which he should be commended) – recognising that some back pain / sciatica can be related to more serious underlying disease. It also looks as though Mr Boxcer has a good understanding of mechanics AND pain mechanisms, something absent in the other books.
Tempting as it’s been to include my own books, I know that I am not capable of being impartial, so I hope one of the above appeals to you.