81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2012
Updated comments: after a thorough reading the most helpful comment I can make is that if you or anyone you know is considering spinal fusion for soft-tissue injury or especially for unknown neck/back pain, this brand new book by a neurosurgeon who performs scores of them and has since the mid-80s is mandatory reading ! although the book's main theme is getting rid of chronic pain .. His most urgent message is that patients often--very very often--find that not only does spinal fusion not ease their pain: it is frequently the beginning of a lifelong hell of much worse pain and useless regret. Dr. Hanscom writes that patients become convinced they need fusion despite the dismal prognosis. He won't perform it without a structural defect that can be fixed. The patients he turns down find another doc with different criteria.
I had fusion surgery in june 2012 for a burst fracture of L1: a no-brainer that fixed my hideous pain. My surgery was an emergency, no mulling it over. I didn't know the dark side of fusion. Imagining waking up with WORSE pain after surgery makes my blood run cold. Just look at web forums re fusion and it's instantly clear that unwarranted fusions cause much more suffering and even ruin many lives. I'm not touting the book: get answers free on the author's website, backincontrol.com. Spread the word to those you care about. Btw, the author is my neurosurgeon, who did a beautiful fusion on me in june 2012. He doesn't know I'm reviewing his book. I just feel his message is a literal lifesaver if people can only get it before its too late.
(original review) When a neurosurgeon as busy as David Hanscom (one of the eight surgeons at Seattle's elite Swedish Neuroscience Institute) takes the time to bring out a full-length book, it probably means he has something new and different to offer those with back problems. It is so! The relief that can be attained from his thoroughly thought-out and patient-tested program is just about guaranteed, and it is not difficult to follow the program either. It can in fact be enjoyable and led me to interesting self-knowledge I've found helping me in other parts of my life.
For less than $10, how can you really lose trying BACK IN CONTROL?
I just wonder if Dr. Hanscom realizes he may put himself out of business by offering his healing in this way!
I am waiting for other formats to come out -- especially audiobook, Amazon!! This book needs to be out there for everybody who could finally get rid of back pain.
73 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2013
This brilliant book is a must read for anyone who lives with chronic pain, and for anyone whose life is affected by loving someone who has chronic pain.
I have lived with severe, chronic back pain, since a failed back surgery eighteen years ago. When I was 14 years old I underwent surgery in an attempt to correct scoliosis. Hardware was place in my thoracic spine (T6 to T12). Within a few short weeks following the surgery, I began experiencing an unusual amount of pain. My spine surgeon, Dr. A, told me that the pain that I was experiencing was normal and that it would get better. The pain didn't get better, in fact it got worse.
During the next eight months following my surgery, the pain became so intense that I couldn't attend high school. Every time I returned to Dr. A to tell him how much pain I was in, he told me that the pain was not a function of the surgery; rather, I was a "chronic pain patient".
Operating under this assumption, I engaged in months of painful physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, and eventually I was referred to a chronic pain specialist, who put me on methadone to control my pain.
I eventually developed flu-like symptoms (vomiting, headaches, listlessness and high fevers) that didn't remit. After eight months of dealing with ever worsening back pain, and repeatedly being dismissed by my surgeon, I went to a different spine surgeon for a second opinion. This surgeon was Dr. David Hanscom, and the year was 1995. Within a short time, he determined that it was likely that I had a staph infection in my spine. I was taken in for emergency surgery the next day to clear the infection. Dr. Hanscom was right, and so was I.
Fast forward to 2013...
Just one week before my thirty-third birthday, I found myself unable to stand in an upright position - the muscles in my jaw, neck and back were in spasm; and I had a headache so severe that I felt nauseated. No amount of Ibuprofen, analgesic rub, or time laying on an icepack made a difference. I felt trapped and hopeless.
Over the years, since my surgeries as an adolescent, I tried every alternative therapy known to man, and yet I still experienced pain on a daily basis. It finally hit me; my pain was not going to go away -- it was getting worse. At the age of thirty-three, I felt like an eighty year old woman.
I thought that maybe another surgery would be my ticket out of the chronic pain hell that I had been living in for almost two decades. I had sworn to myself that I would never undergo another spine surgery, but I was at the end of my rope, and desperate for relief.
Just before this pain flare-up, I had been dealing with a very difficult client at work. I could not control the trajectory of this issue, or the behaviors of my client; and coincidentally, my back pain was out of control. I had the sense that my back pain and stress with work were loosely connected. I was stressed with work, so it stood to reason that my muscles felt tense. I had no idea just how interconnected my back pain and stress levels actually were.
I have long thought that I had back pain because there was fundamentally something wrong with my spine. I have scoliosis, and had a corrective surgery that failed, and a traumatic experience post-op, with a spinal infection that went ignored, and could have killed me. I also experienced a great deal of anxiety since early childhood, and this anxiety increased in severity, as I got older.
Essentially, I deduced that I had two major issues in my life: back pain from a failed surgery, and anxiety and depression. What I know now is that these two issues are not independent of one another; rather they are one in the same.
It was by divine intervention that I learned about the work Dr. Hanscom is up to now. After visiting Dr. Hanscom's website, I immediately ordered his book, Back In Control, and read it in two days. Once I finished his book, I signed up for the Hoffman Process, which is something you will learn about in his book. I then made an appointment with Dr. Hanscom, and was able to get in quickly because I was a patient of his eighteen years ago.
Back in Control blew me away, and it gave me a spark of hope. When I saw Dr. Hanscom in March of 2013, he told me that there was nothing wrong with my spine. Of course, I still had scoliosis, but my spine was solid. I was shocked to learn this! All of these years, I believed full-heartedly that my scoliosis and failed surgery was causing my pain; and for all of these years I was wrong. My pain was a function of pain pathways created by my central nervous system, post-surgery. Essentially, my pain was, practiced pain.
This was a concept that was hard for me to grasp! But my faith and trust in the man who saved my life when I was young, helped keep me open to these new concepts.
As I write this review, I have no back pain. This seems miraculous! The information provided in Back in Control, and my experience participating in the Hoffman Process, has radically changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I am so grateful!
Instead of my pain being constant, it comes in waves, and once I identify the pattern in my thinking that is the root of my pain, the pain goes away - completely.
I used to have back pain 95% of the time, now I have back pain 15% of the time, and the numbers keep improving the longer I stay engaged in this work.
Many days, I am pain-free. I don't wake up with headaches anymore, I don't grind my teeth at night, and I no longer take anxiety medication to get through my day. I simply don't need it. I feel more alive than I can ever remember feeling, even pre-surgery. Many of the things that I have struggled with for years seemed to have vanished.
My hope for you is that you read Back In Control, and consider going to the Hoffman Process. No one deserves to live in chronic pain. It tramples your quality of life, and negatively impacts the lives of those around you. Be open to the fact that the source of your pain is probably not what you think it is.
We all deserve to be liberated in both mind and body. Living in pain is devastating and dehumanizing.
You are so much more than your physical pain, your psychological challenges, and your patterns.
Your pain is not your fault, nor is it anyone else's. Be open to creating a life that is pain-free. You deserve it!
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
This book is a gem. Having worked with 100's of pain patient's, having attempted to impart nuggets of new scientific understandings to them about how chronic pain represents alterations in the brain, not tissue damage, I now point them to this book for the same information. It' written by spinal surgeon, himself a chronic pain sufferer who convincingly shows fellow chronic pain sufferers how to overcome the disease of chronic pain. The path he unfurls, he's traveled, While he points out that sometimes the path out of pain requires surgery, most of the time, the path requires self awareness, the learning of new skills, and the implementation of highly accessible psychological lessons.
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2013
Back in Control is life-changing! I couldn't recommend this book highly enough.
Dr. Hanscom offers practical tools that really helped me restructure my destructive routines and negative thought patterns. The effects have been dramatic: my stress levels are greatly reduced, and when I do experience stress, I'm more in control of it; my thinking has become tremendously focused, and I generally feel clearheaded and centered; I've been able to accomplish more of my goals than I ever have been, even goals not related to my health.
I've looked at lots of approaches to treating chronic pain not caused by a diagnosable structural problem. Hanscom's DOCC Project has struck me as the most promising, and I have personally found it to be very effective.
One caveat: if you are looking for a simple, magical cure-all, this isn't it. Using this book effectively requires putting your skepticism aside and genuinely engaging with the tools Hanscom describes. If you genuinely engage, you won't be disappointed.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2013
Written by an M.D. (back surgeon) who was/is himself a chronic pain sufferer, this is a very different approach to pain, one that I've found helpful. I especially recommend his excellent work on the role of the brain in the cycle of pain when there is no visible or diagnosable "cause". No, he isn't saying "it's all in your head." His message comes from cutting edge brain research and how the brain can groove in the pain pattern; he tells how you the pain you experience is as "real" as if you had a broken arm or other "visible" cause for the pain. His biographical material about this doctor's own struggles with pain, both emotional and physical, and his dedicated search for a way of helping his own surgical patients, is an important part of the book. He certainly is coming from the place of having been there himself and having to find answers both for himself and for his patients. Anyone suffering chronic pain will appreciate what he has to say and the plan he describes is the best I've found with some pieces I've never found anywhere else. I've read about a dozen books in the process of trying to find relief from my own pain and this is by far and away the most helpful and intelligent approach I know of. It's a flawed book in comparison to some of the perfectly edited books on pain that I've read but I don't mind. I like the author's candidness and how he lets us into his life--not something doctors have the luxury of doing very often. I would not hesitate recommending this book to anyone who suffers pain. The Veterans' Administration should hand these out to every vet being treated for pain.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2013
I came to Dr. Hanscom with a diagnosis from a noted orthopedic surgeon that I needed a new hip. I was in constant pain. Through Dr. Hanscom's exam and careful observation of my MRI and x-rays, he suggested that I might not need surgery. Key to this was his book "Back in Control." After reading the book and employing its methods, I am truly "in control." I'm doing the things I need to do, in order to become pain free. And now, 99% of the time, I am. I'm walking, biking, enjoying my grandkids. Having fun! And I owe it all to Dr. Hanscom and this book. I can't receommend it highly enough.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2014
I am a clinical psychologist who read this book in the hopes of gaining more information about helping a couple of my clients to manage physical pain. I think that Dr. Hanscom has developed an excellent, thorough, comprehensive system for back pain sufferers which can to an extent be applied to people with other types of pain ailments as well. His process is unique in that it takes people sequentially step-by-step through a process of getting their pain down and lives back on track. My knowledge about the origins of pain and effective treatments increased by reading this book.
My only complaint--as a psychologist--is the chapters about working with emotions contained a lot of commonly known psychological treatment information that I already knew (e.g., about Beck's cognitive challenging techniques, thought logs, mindfulness, acceptance), so I found those parts a little bit boring. But this book was written for laypeople and not clinicians. People who have no idea about the mind-body connection would probably find those parts enlightening.
Overall, I would share Dr. Hanscom's techniques with my patients and/or recommend his book to pain sufferers.