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Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection Paperback – February 1, 1991

1,198 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Healing Back Pain promises permanent elimination of back pain without drugs, surgery, or exercise. It should have been titled Understanding TMS Pain, because it discusses one particular cause of back pain--Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)--and isn't really a program for self-treatment, with only five pages of action plan (and many more pages telling why conventional methods don't work). According to John E. Sarno, M.D., TMS is the major cause of pain in the back, neck, shoulders, buttocks, and limbs--and it is caused not by structural abnormalities but by the mind's effort to repress emotions. He's not saying that your pain is all in your head; rather, he's saying that the battle going on in your mind results in a real physical disorder that may affect muscles, nerves, tendons, or ligaments. An injury may have triggered the disorder, but is not the cause of the amount or intensity of the resulting pain. According to Sarno, the mind tricks you into not facing repressed emotion by making you focus on pain in the body. When this realization sinks in ("and it must sink in, for mere intellectual appreciation of the process is not enough"), the trick doesn't work any more, and there's no need for the pain. (Healing Back Pain should not be used for self-diagnosis. Always consult a physician for chronic or acute back pain.) --Joan Price

From Library Journal

This best seller was first published in 1991, but no one ever bid for the audio rights. Now, Sarno will narrate his own work.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; 1 edition (February 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446392308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446392303
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John E. Sarno, M.D., is Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, and attending physician at the Howard A. Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Kyle on May 18, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After 3 years of chronic low back pain and neck pain, I am healing. John Sarno's diagnosis is the truth, medicine is WAAY far behind in understanding the connection between emotions and illness, especially chronic pain. I bought this book in February with very consistent, badly affecting pain everyday and am now down to a daily 1 or 0 in pain. My biggest advice is HANG IN THERE, the book says it takes 6-8 weeks to heal completely and it has taken me much longer than that, don't be discouraged if you are still in pain after that time frame. Everyone is different and it took me 3 months to get to where I am now but the results are UNBELIEVABLE, pain is almost nothing to me now and in time it will be nothing and chronic pain will only be a memory.

Here are some KEY tips that helped me to heal:

1. Stop covering up your feelings. In the past, if someone said something offensive towards me, I would cover up the feeling by thinking about it, rationalizing why they said, what they said, the context, blah blah blah but the FEELING is what is important. My mind would say I'm not offended but the truth is I am. FEEL THAT FEELING and tell yourself it's ok to feel this. I am ok.

2. Stop letting your thoughts torture you. In the past I would let my head spin in worry for hours and hours, thinking oh maybe this will happen, but what if that happens. Take charge and say NO to your worry thoughts. It will suck for a while because worry is a habit and it takes time to break so you will be stopping your thoughts A LOT but eventually the worry slows down and dissipates. Channel that inner rage at your thoughts. Tell them to shut up! I wont take this abuse anymore, I deserve to feel good and I choose to feel hopeful.

3. Practice positive thinking and prayer.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't know how I stumbled upon these reviews initially. I do know that it was after a year of entirely disabling, perplexing, and shifting symptoms that culminated with a "herniated disc" diagnosis, an epidural steroid injection that made things worse, and ever-increasing dispair that I would ever have my once very active life back. Since these reviews are what led me to read this book (despite the fact that I'm scientifically minded and inclined to believe and trust doctors in general, maybe too much), I thought I would add my own story. For the record (since I doubted whether these reviews were real - it seems implausible), I am a REAL person. This is difficult to believe, but real.

After a backpacking trip in November 2010, I developed severe, debilitating knee pain. It was a blissful three days in the wilderness, and on the hike out (i.e. back to my job as a corporate lawyer), the knee pain started. I waited a week, thinking it was an overuse injury related to my spin classes, hiking, etc., and when it did not get better, I went in for an MRI. It showed nothing. The first orthopedic surgeon diagnosed me with "knee strain" and sent me to physical therapy, which I ended up doing twice a week for six months.

Two months later, things were not improved, so I switched doctors and ordered a second MRI. Still nothing. I couldn't take a single step without pain. I was icing my knee three times a day -- did that for months. My knee was actually warm to the touch, which (of course) led me to believe that there was some physical injury.

My new doctor, feeling the extreme soreness I had on my hip and outside of my quad and outside of my knee, diagnosed me with IT (iliotibial band) syndrome. I contined with physical therapy.
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77 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Steven Rankel on November 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I must say in response to Joan Price's comments above, namely that Healing Back Pain 'isn't really a program for self-treatment with only 5 pages of action plans' - she is incorrect.

I read this book at the urging of a friend who recovered from years of debilitating back pain.

After reading it once (about a 2-3 hour investment of time), I began 'discipling my mind' and working hard to apply the 'mere 5 pages' of action plans. Why do we as humans think everything must be hard? =)

As I read the book, I began applying the principles and found my pain subsiding.

Within just one week, I was relieved of pain that I had borne for 5-10 years, and was able to stop going to doctors and treatments that had done nothing. And I spent many thousands of dollars on treatments.

It is a credit to John Sarno that he has shared simple and straightforward direction so we can actually use it.

Complexity is not the measure of something's value. Results are.

And I am living a different life because of simply reading and applying the thoughts in this book.

Thank you Dr. Sarno!
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By K. Mitha on June 3, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
26 years old and have suffered from chronic back/neck/shoulder/pelvic pain for 3.5 years. Probably saw 20ish doctors, physical therapists, accupuncturists, chiropracters, massage therapists, hypnotherapists and osteopaths over the years with nothing but temporary relief.

I can't think of a better way to share my experience than sharing with you the letter I wrote to my family 4 weeks after reading this book. Forever greatful to Dr. John Sarno.

"My Dear Family,

There was a time when I never thought I would be able to say this, and I still can't believe it myself, but I have made a 90% recovery from the chronic muscle problems that have debilitated me for the past 3.5 years.

Over the past few weeks I have gradually resumed an active life once again, and find myself driving, doing computer work, lifting weights, going on intense bike rides, and much more with virtually no pain at all. I feel like I have been re-born again, and find myself in a perpetually good mood and excited about life and the opportunities that await me once again.

As you know, these years have been extremely difficult for me, both physically and emotionally. Particularly over the past year when this problem took on a whole new level of intensity and spread throughout my body. I wanted to thank you all for your support through this very difficult time for me. Without you guys, I probably would have jumped off a cliff by now.

You may be curious as to what caused this sudden and immediate change in my health. Which doctor did I see? What excercise did I do? What posture did I adapt?
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