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Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection Paperback – February 1, 1991
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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
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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. This will vibrationally help you to heal. Feed yourself POSITIVE ENERGY as much as you can, believe in your healing, no matter what the pain is telling you. Listen to My Morning Jacket, spend time in nature, get off Twitter and Instagram and all that noise, pet your dog, think about great things that have happened to you.
4. Journal. Write about what makes you angry, sad, scared, insecure. Write it out. I would oftentimes feel the repressed rage boiling up to the surface as I wrote. This is exactly what the pain is trying to distract you from, it is great to feel that rage there.
5. Cry, scream, beat the hell out of something. Get those emotions moving. If you have chronic pain, you have stale emotions sitting in you. Lay on your bed and breathe deeply into your belly, make a sound as you exhale, this helps to rouse the old emotions, bringing them to the surface. Keep breathing into it and cry it out, beat your pillow, whatever you're feeling.
6. Don't worry about setbacks. I had so many times where the pain would go down, only to come back with a vengeance. I was afraid I would never heal, but the fact that you can get it moving up and down like that at all shows that things are changing. Keep practicing, hold strong, and eventually the pain starts to lose the fight.
Good luck and god bless.
If you still don't believe me, shoot me a comment on this review and maybe we can chat via email. I used to walk around with a cane due to my pain and now I'm climbing mountains, back to work, sprinting, weight lifting, you name it. Good luck.
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. Once I was diagnosed with IT band syndrome (the tissue that runs from the hip to the knee is affected), my HIP started to hurt. Soon it was mostly hip pain, so I got a steroid injection in my hip. It did not help. Physical therapy did not help. The pain started on the other hip, too. I despaired. I spent thousands on acupuncture and massage.
At some point, my physical therapist suggested that maybe I had a pinched nerve. I had MRIs done of my hip (showing nothing) and my back. The back MRI showed a herniated L4/L5 vertebrae (diagnosed by my new spine surgeon), and I scheduled an epidural. I was having a hard time sitting by this point. I worked long hours (regularly 12-14 hours a day) and I couldn't really do my job. I went for the epidural, and afterward I couldn't sit, stand, or lie comfortably. I took time off work. I ultimately went on disability medical leave, because I couldn't do ANYTHING. I couldn't imagine what my life would be. The orthopedic surgeon wanted to operate.
Then I stumbled across these reviews, which I was sure were fake. But I was desperate, and I bought the book. While I waited for it to arrive, I read other things about Sarno, and about his theories, on the internet. He kind of sounded like a crackpot, but it seemed to work. Still, my back was KILLING me, and I had been diagnosed with a spinal problem. I was on pain pills. Surely these theories didn't apply to me.
The book came. I read it. It took about 1.5 hours (it's short and written for laypeople). I decided to try it. I went outside and ran up the steps by my house. I hadn't walked more than a few steps in months. The run hurt like hell, but it didn't make anything worse. So I committed. I went to the movies that night. I was terrified of sitting for two hours, but every time the pain would flare up I would internally remind myself that it was because of my internal pain, rage, whatever you call it. I spent a lot of time reminding myself of this, and I doubted myself. But within 2 days, I really was able to do some things, and I started to believe. I definitely still had pain, but I worked on it. Really, really hard. And I made myself do the things I was most afraid of doing. Going to the pilates class I was sure would injure my back. Going hiking on the same trail that precipitated the whole thing. Going to spin class. And I couldn't believe I was able to do these things. I forced myself to do anything I was afraid of. I repeated the refrain "there is nothing wrong with you" probably a million times.
Listen - it's been 6 weeks now, and I am pain free. It did take almost that long. I would periodically (and less frequently as time went on) have back pain, and then knee pain, and bunion pain, and ankle, and calf, and hip, and neck. My body did not want to give up the ruse. But listen, people, this _______ works. TMS is a real thing. I am pain free when six weeks ago I was on disability and headed for back surgery.
I feel like an evangelist. But there is nothing to lose, and this could save your life.