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on 13 June 2007
As I read the "Back Sufferer's Bible" by author Sarah Key, a great number of memories came flooding back to me. The book is of particular interest to me as I was an "end of the line" patient of Sarah Key in Sydney in 1993.

I had "been through the mill" since 1965, when a builing site accident, at age 20, fractured a number of my lumber vertebrae. I recovered and was back at work within a few months, but my back was never to be the same again and steadily declined and eventually, having no other options, underwent my first spinal operation in 1988 to remove bulging discs which were, according to the neurosurgeon, responsible for my numb and wasted left leg and severe pain. The operation did not help in any way. My condition deteriorated further and eventually, in 1991, I had a second operation to remove fragments of a remaining disc, and later, in 1992, a third operation to remove the adhesions and other products causing vertebral canal stenosis, as a result of the first operation

I had undertaken three failed spinal operations, had a leg and foot that hardly worked, was partly incontinent and my "best friend" was a steel-reinforced, heavy duty surgical corset that I believed was saving my life. I was told that I could no longer work as a builder and was never to lift or bend. I was "assured" that the majority of disc removal cases, such as mine, would eventually require a stabilizing spinal fusion. At the time I had a young family to support and felt completely "lost"

I was very fortunate to hear of Sarah Key's unorthodox back treatment regime and made an appointment to see her

My initial consultation with Sarah Key in 1993 was unforgettable. I was confronted by a bright young woman who spoke, not of "degeneration", but of "regeneration"

For somebody who had only ever heard repeated negativity from all other practitioners for years and years, ("your discs are worn out"..."dont do heavy work"..."dont lift"..."never, ever bend"..."dont take your back-brace corset off"..."take time off".."prolonged bed rest will fix everything"..."you need a spinal fusion"), it was wonderful to be swept away by this straight-talking, super-positive Sarah Key

Every single word which Sarah Key said, on that day, was so positive, so reassuring, and made so much sense. I will never forget the feelings of elation that I had on the way home in the train.

From 1993 until 2004 I did the daily exercise and backblock routine which
Sarah Key had set for me and was able to work full-time as a builder, and was able to undertake really heavy physical work. Builder mates would often say, in disbelief, "how on earth can you do that?...your back is "stuffed". I always lifted the "Sarah Key way", with a rounded back and tightened abdominal muscles and felt totally indestructible, despite having three failed spinal operations to remove discs and spinal canal debris from 1988 to 1992

I suffered a very severe financial setback in 2004, involving a large property affected by a newly-enacted Threatened Species environmental legislation. The Court action, with its never-ending delays and massive legal expenses took its toll. I lost interest in everything in my life, including my "faithful" exercises.

Around two years later, my back problems began to return with vengeance. I was unable to sleep for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time because of pain, and felt so old and stiff and full of misery. I really did not believe that any exercise could help me because, at age 61, I believed that my body and spinal regenerative capability were "worn out"... but I was wrong...very wrong.

As I read my new Back Sufferer's Bible, I found that it gave me the ability to motivate myself again. This book is able to deliver its information in such an informal and positive way that you can't help but be swept away by a feeling of optimism similar to that which you experience in a "face to face" consultation with Sarah Key

I gingerly began the exercises again the following day and could notice a definite improvement within weeks. At this time, six months have elapsed and I have almost fully regained my health and fitness

The true "lifeline" contained within the Back Sufferer's Bible, especially for those, like myself, suffering from back problems associated with disc removal, is the marvellously detailed section on the human body's potential for the regeneration of the intervertebral discs utilising production of the spine's moisture-attracting agent, "Proteoglycans"

I believe that Sarah Key is the sole practitioner, on this planet, who is prepared to "leap off" the comfort zone of mainstream practitioner thinking and talk of the "repair and regeneration of discs".

The Back Sufferer's Bible contains line drawing "figures" which are really brilliant. They bring to life the individual components of the various stages on spinal movement. By including only the structures in the drawings which relate to the relevant text, it is quite easy to visualise the role that the pieces play in assisting or restricting various movements. The detailed background information for the range of exercises makes it easy to set realistic goals. Whether you're young or old, whether you're needing a "treatment tool" or "insurance" against back problems this book will give you the confidence and understanding to "do it on your own". The book makes so much sense that I cannot understand how such a disparity of opinion exists within the realm of the various back practitioners.

Sarah Key gave me 12 long years of vigorous, productive worklife, in 1993, at a time when I critically needed it, while the others had no solutions.

Read this book!...Believe in it!...Do the exercises diligently!...and reap the rewards
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on 26 January 2011
Written by a physiotherapist, Sarah Key's Back Sufferers' Bible is a great resource for back pain sufferers. One of the best things about it is its logical approach to back pain.

The book explains that simple back pain starts when the spinal discs start to lose water and get stiff, which then sets in motion a sequence of disorders. The stages are:

-a stiff spinal segment
-facet joint problems
-an acute locked back
-a slipped disc, and finally
-an unstable spinal segment

The books believes that if you are doing the right therapy, you can stop spinal breakdown almost anywhere along the above stages. The really good news, the book goes on to tell, is that you can do most of the therapy by yourself.

To that end, the rest of the book devotes a chapter to each of the above stages, detailing what is going on in each stage and what you can do about it.

All-in-all I found this to be a very reader-friendly book, filled with lots of non-technical explanations, as well as many great pictures depicting how to do the exercises. Perhaps its best attribute is that it can be used to treat your back in whatever stage it happens to be in, which makes it useful for just about anybody with back pain. Other noteworthy back pain books I liked include Treat Your Own Spinal Stenosis.
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on 17 June 2001
At the age of 30 with two small children, I was told by various medical specialists that by worsening back was 'because I was tall'. This despite the fact I could hardly move or bend...
I bought Sarah's book as I wanted to manage my own health if at all possible and avoid another operation. The book is simply brilliant. Easy to understand you can see how your back works and why exercising makes sense.
I started slowly and progressed to a back block. Whilst doing the exercises I could feel my foot tingling. I shocked by physio by the speed of my recovery and have been using Sarah's exercises ever since. I can honestly say I have never been as supple and as flexible (or totally pain free)and to all those who say to be careful of your back and don't bend it, I'd say - READ SARAH KEY'S BOOK!
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on 13 September 2005
This book really helped to change my life. I had lots of back problems, including slipped disk, torn muscle, etc. I went to see chiropractors, physiotherapists and osteopaths. While they all helped a lot, this book allowed me to read and try out the exercises in my own time, with good, clear advice and descriptions. It was also cheaper than the private sessions! The opening section of how the back/abs work is excellent, and each exercise is very well explained. Over a period of time (few weeks), I could feel a marked improvement in my back (more movement, less stiffness), which has continuously improved. I'm not sure about the idea that just working the internal abs will strengthen them all (working internal oblique will also work external oblique), but my posture is better, and I now have a normal, active life.
Thank you so much!
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on 9 April 2001
Sarak Key writes comprehensively and beautifully about something we tend to ignore at our painful peril. The spine connects our brains, via our neural super highway, to our bodies; our unconscious abuse causes problems for over 80 per cent of us. Her approach makes sound engineering and physiological sense. Each bony 'bobbin' (vertebral segment) in our spine is cushioned from the next by a shock absorbing 'washer'. We compress these washers and rarely give them a chance to re-lubricate. Sarah Key shows us how to re-juice and repair our backs. As she says, understanding is half the cure. She writes a comprehensive guide to what goes wrong and how to right it. In educating us, she brings physical and psychological relief. This is a rational, reasonable guide to keeping your body flexibly mobile at any age.
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on 17 March 2014
This book saved me from operation after operation. It explained the do's and don't. It explained my pain and what caused it. There are charts and diagrams that make it all so clear. Why does my calf hurt or my big toe? Well that is all there the answer is because of the discs and nerves in your back. Try this before any operation!
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on 12 October 2009
There are several good reasons to go for Sarah Key's Back Sufferer's Bible, let me point couple of them. The sad truth of back pain is that approximately 80% of us will experience it during our lifetime. As a PhD doing research on intervertebral disc repair, I was rather unhappy to become recently part of this statistic already in my mid-thirties. Most people who read this review know the loop - waking up in the morning with pain in the back and swallowing some pills, walking with leg pain, dropping like a sack of potatoes in the chair, bad mood all day, swallowing more pills in the evening and going early to bed, knackered. Day after day, for months, with little improvement and the bad news is that combined back and leg pain can lead to disability in 26% of the cases within a year. The good news is that you can do something about it and this has to be the right thing as you are slowly running out of time. What exactly? Today we are showered with truism advice on how to deal with back pain, most often `this work at the computer kills your back' or `you shouldn't bend your back' but the practical value of such advice is very limited. What if you do work ten hours daily in front of a computer screen and what when you quickly discover how ridiculous is to squat in front of the sink to wash your face? The book of Sarah Key gives an insight in the anatomy of spine, explains things that can go wrong there and what you can do about it. She has developed a system of exercises which accept the complexity of the spine, that it involves muscles, vertebral bodies, facet joints and discs and works them together. These exercises improve functionality within weeks and from a patient point of view the routine is clear and simply works. Sarah Key doesn't ask you to stop moving your back and lift things like a prize-wining Japanese robot, just the opposite. The point is that the intervertebral disc needs nutrition and removal of inflammatory molecules and such actions are provided by the movement of the spine, something we so often neglect. It is a fact that when we don't move, all sorts of horrible things happen to our bodies as a proof. This book draws a scientific path to remove pain and improve your back, including initial use of anti-inflammatory medication and a reduced set of gentle exercises for acute pain. After you mobilise the stiff spine you will continue to build on the top of this success and include second and third levels of exercise, getting rid of the medication within couple of weeks, strengthening the muscles and removing the reason for back pain. The book clearly tells you also what to do if the pain comes back. It did work for me - within six weeks I was practically pain free and it made me stand straight and tall. I have got a compliment from a colleague that I look good and asked if I have been on holiday. What I did were just the exercises from the Back Sufferer's Bible. So, how much work does it involve? Only reading the book naturally won't help, I needed twice a day 15-20 minutes exercise - a small price to pay, considering the depressing alternatives.
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on 6 August 2001
I have just read Sarah Key's remarkable book, "Back Sufferers' Bible", and what a Godsend it is! I live with bum discs at both C5 and L5, and have made the endless round of doctors and therapists. But through it all, I have never - NEVER, I tell you - been offered such a lucid explanation of what is going on "in there". I suppose it is the engineer in me that craves to know how things fit together and how things work. Ms. Key's careful descriptions, and especially her marvelous illustrations, have gratified that need a hundredfold. She is most correct, indeed, that "understanding is half the cure". The book simply brims with "understanding" and solid, practical advice. Sarah Key is to be thanked for giving this priceless volume to the back sufferers of the world. I recommend it without reservation.
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on 11 September 2005
Having had a "bad back" on and off for years, a recent very bad patch made me think it was time to find out what might be causing it, and if there was anything I could do about it. I found this book very informative (and was quite relieved to get to a section with symptoms I definitely didn't have!). I have been doing the exercises described for a few weeks now and feel a substantial (and hopefully permanent) improvement. I like to understand what exercises are supposed to achieve and how - this book has explained both aspects.
It is similar in approach to Dr Richard Ferber's "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems", combining theory with practical and practised expertise.
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on 14 May 2002
From Dr. David Ashton MD PhD
Consultant Physician
Sarah Key has managed to achieve the formidably difficult feat of writing for a lay audience about a complex subject, with remarkable clarity and style. Her books contain a wealth of information on all aspects of back care and she has taken the trouble to provide an excellent overview of the basic functional anatomy of the spine - essential background information if you want to manage your own back problems more effectively. As a practising physician myself, I have learned much about the treatment of common spinal conditions, including my own. Importantly, Sarah avoids making claims which cannot be substantiated and, where the scientific evidence to justify one approach to treatment rather than another is lacking, she is not afraid to say so.
As an author myself, I know how difficult writing for a general audience about a complex subject can be. The general rule must be that if you don't really understand it yourself, you cannot possibly communicate effectively with the audience you are trying to reach. Sarah Key's writing has a clarity based on a deep understanding of her subject, combined with a passion for making effective back care available to everyone - yes, even doctors! So, if you are a back sufferer - or would like to avoid becoming a sufferer - this book is definitely for you.
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