A Consultation with the Back Doctor


338 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-7710-3779-1
DDC 617.5'6




Reviewed by John H. Gryfe

John H. Gryfe is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon practising in


This is a book many would consider an update or extension of Hall’s
other works, The Back Doctor (1980) and More Advice from the Back Doctor
(1987). Hall begs to differ, indicating in his preface that his own
physical appearance is the least of the changes that have transpired
since his earlier publications. Noting that his signature advice of a
previous era—that prolonged bedrest was the best antidote for
unresolving back pain—“has been shown to be not only ineffective,
but also potentially harmful” offers indication that his intention is
to re-educate the reader, to offer “the practical advice I dispense
every day in my clinic.”

The book’s question-and-answer format undoubtedly draws on real
enquiries Hall has responded to during a professional career that has
spanned four decades as orthopedic surgeon, professional athlete
consultant, and university professor. The topics cover the full gamut of
concern, from an explanation of the term “mechanical pain” (which
“indicates pain arising directly from the structures of the spine”)
to multi-page advice on sex and the painful back. “Big scary words,”
the transgression all health professionals are accused of hiding behind,
are demystified in a clever combination of illustration and seemingly
direct dialogue between the author and his readers. For those who
experience back pain, Hall’s book confirms the need for a face-to-face
medical consultation.


Hall, Hamilton., “A Consultation with the Back Doctor,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed January 21, 2022, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/15689.