Cathryn Jakobson Ramin

Speech Topics

Why are there so many ways to treat back pain – and so few of them are effective: If you break an ankle, or sprain a wrist, health care providers know what to do for you. Low back pain is different – there are at least 22 conventional (and unproven) approaches to treating the same condition, which explains why patients engage in what experts call “serial ineffective therapies.” Give your audience the inside scoop on the realities of an industry where every stakeholder wants a piece of you. Cathryn Ramin will dissect:

• Why health insurance providers will happily pay for a major operation, or a series of spinal injections, or for dangerous medication, but remain reluctant to pick up the tab for the right kind of intensive rehab – and how to convince them to do the right thing.

• How opioid therapy for patients with back pain launched a public health crisis: Much has been written about “the opioid overdose epidemic,” but few people grasp the relationship between these deaths and what goes on in “pain management” practices. Roughly 75 percent of individuals who develop opioid-use disorders begin with prescribed drugs, and most of those prescriptions are written for patients with back pain. Help your audience understand how Purdue Pharma carefully targeted chronic back pain patients to build a market for OxyContin; the reality of “opioid-induced hyperalgesia,” (increased pain engendered by opioid use), the risk of overdose and death, and how patients who are dependent on physician-prescribed opioids can get help. Take a look at how Donald Trump’s cabinet selections may influence how painkiller manufacturers and the FDA will behave in the future.

• What you need to know about those “safe, quick and bloodless” spine procedures you see advertised on TV, the web and even in the New York Times. Get the rundown on what these “minimally-invasive” options are all about – and how they empty your wallet, while exposing you to unnecessary risks.

• How back pain is treated in other parts of the world

• Why you are likely to be taken for a ride if you buy an “ergonomic” desk chair.

• Why workers’ compensation costs are sky-high for business owners

• Why that old saw about getting 150 minutes of exercise each week is outdated


click the covers for more information


Cathryn Jakobson Ramin is the author of CROOKED: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, and CARVED IN SAND: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife. An award-winning investigative journalist, she’s also an engaging and lively speaker, who knows how to construct a compelling story, on stage or off. In CROOKED, her most recent book, she dismantles the back pain industry in ways that are both enlightening and startling, providing patients, corporations and stakeholders in all aspects of healthcare with crucial information. Her talks have received rave reviews and top evaluations from organizations including the American Bankers Association and the Inner Circle of Advocates. Her style is entertaining and wryly humorous, more akin to an hour in the theater than an hour in the classroom. Renowned for her deep reporting, and her ability to present complex material in a way that is accurate, but also readily comprehended, she’s written for many national publications, including the New York Times Magazine and She’s a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, National Association of Science Writers, Journalism and Women’s Symposium and IRE, Investigative Reporters and Editors. She’s married to composer Ron Ramin. The couple have two adult sons, and they divide their time between New York City and the Bay Area.

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲