Cathryn Jakobson Ramin struggled with backache and sciatica for years. Like millions of other back pain sufferers, she was overwhelmed with ill-defined options for treatment. Which would work? Which would simply drain her wallet? And which might leave her in worse shape than when she began? As she struggled to answer these questions, she realized that she had plenty of company. In the United States, the cost of treating back pain exceeds $100 billion a year, and much of that money is wasted on ineffective tactics.

What started as her straightforward effort to resolve an annoying problem turned into six years of investigative reporting and writing. The book, “Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery,” is the culmination of her odyssey.

Her goal with Crooked is to set the back pain industry’s offerings in their proper context, so that patients have the information they need to make good decisions; to know what works sometimes, what works rarely, and what can cause harm.

She engages in a lively conversation with Dr. Ricky Fishman, a chiropractor, a profession that receives quite a bit of scorn (along with many others) in Ms. Ramin’s excellent book.

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