Customer Reviews: Mind Over Back Pain
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on October 16, 2000
Since so many have already given their personal account, I thought I would talk of the book's content.
Dr. Sarno wrote this book for normal people. It is short, readable, to the point, and avoids statistical/clinical mumbo-jumbo (as much as possible). If someone is looking for a scientific white paper, this book isn't it. His support is mostly anecdotal (case studies) and argumentative, but he also offers some reasonable clinical citings in support of his theory. For instance, if back pain is due to a degenerating spine, as most physicians would argue, why do the incidents of back pain decrease sharply after the age of 60? (Decrease much faster than death rate.) I found most of his observations about back pain and the fallacies of orthodox treatment to be insightful and credible. It made me realize how much blind faith I have in traditional medicine -- that alone was worth the read!
The book contains all the treatment information that you need. Contrary to what some of the one-star reviewers say, he states that there is rarely a need to enter into therapy with him or anyone else. You need only accept his theory to disarm your subconscious and relieve your pain -- what he calls "knowledge therapy." What is confusing about the last chapter is that he spends his time telling you everything that you do NOT need to do and sites extreme cases where therapy was needed. This can be a bit disconcerting to someone looking for an exercise regime or twelve-step program. The reason he doesn't have two-hundred pages of instructions is that you don't need them. I suspect that the disappointed reviewers either misread the last chapter or completely missed the point. It would have been nice if he made the point more clearly and supported "knowledge therapy" theory more substantially. The point he didn't wholy clarify is that reading the book -- and accepting his conclusion -- WAS the treatment. After that, it's just a matter of letting the realization sink in.
He presents a radical approach to back pain treatment. If you plan to read this book, open up your mind to the possibility that traditional treatment is based on a flawed premise. Doing so will allow you to absorb some important conclusions about back pain and to whether through his occasional soapbox rants. If you cannot imagine that traditional medicine is capable of flaw, you will get nothing out of Dr. Sarno's book.
For me, I believe him. Considering what a defeatist, skeptical, cynic I am this is a miracle in itself!
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on April 13, 1999
I don't usually find any wish to comment publically on books or films etc. But I think when something affects your life so much, you want to express it! I have had increasing back pain for three years. A year ago it spread into my arms, wrists and hands. My doctor called this 'Repetitive Stress Injury' (RSI) and possible 'Carpal Tunnel Syndrome'. As I am a computer operator, this was devistating news. I was offered a promotion then the offer was withdrawn because of my problem. In desperation I tried Physiotherapy, Reiki healing, massage, anti-infammatory drugs, constant exercises, splints on my arm, sleeping on the floor. I am 28 and it was ruining my life and making me depressed. Then I read Sarno's book. Within 2 days my back pain had virtually gone, and within a couple of weeks my arm pain was almost completely gone, and I have since had less and less pain. I still work on a computer 80% of the time with no pain. The Doctor told me to only do an hour a day. I want to thank Dr Sarno. His clear, easily accessible, easy to understand style of writing has cured me! It does seem unbelievable before you read the book that simply reading can cure so much pain, but it really does work! I almost can't believe it myself!!
If you suffer, I urge you to give this book a try.
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on December 6, 2005
This WAS me: Back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, trapezius pain, tricep pain, pectoral pain, numbness/tingling in both hands. The pain alternated from one arm to the other and sometimes all the way down my left leg. Along with pain I had gastroinstestinal and skin problems. There was weakness in my left tricep which was noticably smaller. Bad news for a lefty. Never mind the ever-present fear of physical labor making it worse!

This IS me one month later: Active, off of Percocet, muscle relaxers (Skelaxon, Flexeril), anti-inflammatories (Steroids, Celebrex, DayPro, Ibuprofen). No more chiropractor, goofy traction device, or TENS unit. Last Saturday I helped a friend lay down a floor; 12 hours of hard "back-breaking" labor. I couldn't have been happier. I am 100% back. In fact, I'm MORE than 100% because I no longer have the fear of pain! To be perfectly honest, I have taken aspirin here and there, but that is it. I can't tell you how good it felt to wake up with muscles that were tired from overexertion.

At 39 years old, I truly thought I was going to either be in horrible pain for the rest of my life or permanently restricted due to surgery. In two years my MRI went from a bulging disk to one that was terribly herniated and another with issues. The surgeon told me I'd need to have 2 discs replaced and 3 vertibrae fused. He said I'd have problems walking soon and that he could fit me in the following week for surgery. Nothing, he said, even an epidural block, would get rid of the pain.

Coincidentally I got his book during the three-hour wait between my doctor appointment and the blindingly painful MRI. I was half-way finished when I saw the surgeon two days later. He, of course, disregarded the book. HE SURE WAS IN A HURRY TO CUT ME UP THOUGH!!! So much for the Hippcratic Oath. More like the Hypocritic Oath.

The friend who told me about Dr. Sarno was essentially bedridden for a year needing a cane to get around. Within days of reading his book she was off all medication and pain free. Had I not known her during that time, I would never have believed it.

I've read all three of his books and am currently on my fourth time listening to the audiobook of "Mind over Back Pain". This man is a genius and it is unconscionable that "doctors" have written off the mind/body connection.

In my opinion "Mind over Back Pain" is just as good as "The MindBody Prescription", although the latter goes into more detail. "Healing Back Pain" was the first I'd read which was great since it was only 100 pages long giving me time to read some of it before seeing the surgeon. The audiobook of "Mind over Back Pain" is excellent, but doesn't go into as much detail as the book. It is good if you don't have spare time to read. I fully intend to listen to it regularly for the rest of my life.

I owe Dr. Sarno my health.
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on April 22, 1999
I went through the usual... Diagnosis of a herniated disc - in bed for 2 months - threats of surgery by multiple orthopedic surgeons - and then... yup.... I read the book.
This was 8 years ago. Yes - I still get back pain. Yes - it hurts. But just knowing that it's not going to hurt FOREVER - helps me relax, breathe and, of course, the pain goes away.
To the reviewer in the medical field - you can't just give it 3 days "or else..." If it takes a week - a month - well, that's how long it will take. Just know - you won't be in pain forever.
Thank you Dr. Sarno - I've given 15+ copies of your book away over the past 8 years. It's nice to be a part of taking others out of the pain I knew so well.
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on May 5, 2005
I bought this book a few years ago after a friend recommended it to me.

I had back pain daily for about a year after doing some serious remodeling on my house.

Eventually I went to see my doctor who took an XRAY of my lower back and prescribed Physical Therapy. The XRAY was normal, but I wasn't getting better after a month of PT. I was getting depressed about it, and was wondering if I would have to get surgery for relief (Please don't get surgery without seeking as much info about it as possible). An MRI was done just about the time I had finished reading the book. The MRI showed mild disc bulging in the L4-L5 space, but nothing that wouldn't be considered normal wear and tear, as confirmed by my physician. Once I got this assurance via the MRI and after reading the book, my back pain went away within a week...completely gone.

Does this not sound like a mind body connection?

Since that time, I have had some transient back soreness every once and a while, which is expected since I am an active guy who has never been very good at keeping good posture or kicking back on my days off. But since taking ownership of my back pain and adopting a multi-disciplined philosophy, one of which is Dr Sarno's, I have come to a better understanding the source of my back pain and how I can best prevent it from happening. For example, the exercises/ principles taught by my physical therapist were valuable and I try to incorporate them into my lifestyle. I also try to incorporate Dr Sarno's philosophy of the mind-body connection to understand that my actions/ emotions can have an impact on the health of my body.

I am a classic case of someone who gets stressed easily and tenses up without even realizing it, until my back muscles tell me I need to relax. The pain is real. The pain is not "in your head" as some people have misinterpreted from Dr Sarno's book.

Basically, you have to come to terms with your own body. It is your body, and you can have a strong influence over it's well being through your emotions and behavior.

I don't know how else to make this any clearer. Don't give up! Giving up is not a solution to a probelm that rests with you.
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on January 6, 2000
I have suffered from back pain and siatica for 10 months. A friend bought me this book for Christmas. As I read it, my pain literally vanished (and on a bus ride, sitting in a seat that should have put me in a wheelchair according to my PT). It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. Buy this book...what have you got to lose?
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on November 23, 1999
Yes, healed forever due to the words of wisdom from a very wise man, John Sarno. He is leap years ahead of medicine and it is very sad that this is true. I once had the excruciating leg and back pain, numbness and tingling and just was fed up and ready for surgery. But I gave it a shot, read 2 of his books and POOF--THE PAIN WAS GONE and it was like a miracle. I have tried to spread the word to others that are in Chronic Pain, but the funny thing is, they get very angry with my views, so I feel bad for them because they will continue to suffer and look for answers like surgery, mophene pumps and cortisone shots. Oh well, if I have helped one person in my life, then it was worth it! Good luck to all you pain sufferers I hope you believe in Sarno's wisdom over your orthopedic surgeon because with Sarno, you can have permanent pain dessimated forever!
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on July 27, 2000
I had a bad back attack about Four years ago, then I bought Dr Sarno's book.
I was very exited by the book and I worked through all my 'angers'. Yes it was true I had a lot of anger against my parents etc. And I worked through all of this exposing all my hidden anger and frustration.
After about Three months I was free of back pain. I enthusistic and excited about this book and was giving it to all my 'back-pain' friends.
Three years later I hade a most painful Sciatica down my leg. I woke up every night with the most excruciating pain. I took strong pain killers every night in order to get a good nights sleep.
I tried re-reading Dr Sarnos book but it was no longer 'true' his arguments were 'empty'. His stuff no longer worked.
Sitting hunched up at a desk for years-on-end without exercising is guaranteed to kill your back.
All the mind over matter stuff, isn't going to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles or improve your posture.
Perhaps if I had concentrated on doing exercises when I had my first attack I wouldn't be suffering now.
I've now been doing lots of gentle back stretching exercises and swimming, and although I've been doing the exercises for over Four months I'm still not 100% right, but I'm no longer taking painkillers.
Yes read the book, he makes some good points, but keep it in context and also read at least Two Other books on mild back strengthening exercises.
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on July 30, 2000
I hate to be overly dramatic here, but this guy and this book pretty much saved my mental health. I had been a very active person, running, lifting weights, etc., when I got hit with wicked back pain and sciatica. I was diagnosed with three herniated discs and was told I would probably never run again. I saw every specialist I could in traditional medicine and non-traditional medicine including physitrists, chriropractors, orthopedist's and acupuncturists. NOTHING worked and I was beyond miserable. The pain got so bad that just slowly walking up and down hills brought on severe sciatic symptoms. I read Sarno's book prepared for some kind of new age touchy feely stuff which I hate, so I was really prepared to resent the book. Surprisingly, it all made sense. It was factual, not conceptual. I really responded to that and within six weeks, I was completley pain-free. This has been over three years ago, and I have not had to miss a day of exercise since. I am back to running, lifting, etc. with no repercussions. Every now and then, I feel a twinge in my back, but I chalk it up to TMS and it usually goes away within hours. I love this guy and I love this book. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if it works for you, you'll never go back to drinking coffee.
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on October 18, 1999
Reading Sarnos book was incredible. Within three pages I knew I had come home. No practitioner of any discipline had been able to reflect any diagnosis back to me. And here was a mirror right in front of me. My pain had been unbelievable and chronic for ten years. I felt like an old woman at 32. That was two pain free years ago. I believe that many people who read the book and say it doesn't work, haven't read it closely enough. In no way did I ever get the impression that I had to hear Sarno speak or attend his clinic. If people are getting this impression they really aren't paying attention.I also feel that his theory is very clearly explained, I read it once. It is unfortunately easy for us to not see what we need to most. Sarno's book contains the most liberating information to humans and our self control and personal power that I have read in a long time. It leads to bigger and more revolutionary and evolutionary thinking about who we are and what we are capable of. If you don't get it, try reading it with a friend.
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