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Finding Good Pain Treatment Is Hard. If You’re Not White, It’s Even Harder.

Roslyn Lewis of Tuscaloosa, Ala., injured her back while working at a dollar store. A decade later, the pain radiates to one of her knees and remains largely unaddressed.Credit...Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Roslyn Lewis was at work at a dollar store here, pushing a heavy cart of dog food, when something popped in her back: an explosion of pain. At the emergency room the next day, doctors gave her Motrin and sent her home. Her employer paid for a nerve block that helped temporarily, numbing her lower back, but she could not afford more injections or physical therapy. A decade later, the pain radiates to her right knee and remains largely unaddressed, so deep and searing that on a recent day she sat stiffly on her couch, her curtains drawn, for hours.

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