It’s true! If you have back pain and you sneeze in front of someone else, that person could develop their own back pain!
But seriously, there is a psychological aspect to back pain that I am always hesitant to talk about but have finally truly found peace about it myself. It’s a touchy topic and I would rather divert peoples attention to a specific book. There are so many layers to this onion that it takes time and someone who can explain it to you in a way that will bring revelation instead of skepticism. Even though I have been able to make this connection myself I respect the process the individual needs to go through to make that light bulb go off for themselves. What I am passionate about is the doctor, patient relationship and how powerful his/her word choices are on the outcome of the patient.
We have all heard those stories about doctors telling someone they will never be able to walk again and lo and behold that individual is motivated to walk a year later. Unfortunately, not all patients react in this way. Not everyone is motivated by hearing negative news. More often than not that person who hears “their back is too crooked to ever feel normal” or “their disk has ruptured and the only way to have a chance at a normal life is through surgery” is instantly defeated and begins to believe what that doctor said was true and their only option. Can you blame them? As the average person we are at the mercy of our medical care providers. We think since they drive nice cars, have the degrees on the wall and wear the white coat that they know what’s best for you. I may be a bit biased but I think that’s crap. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the crap out of them and the demands that are put on them but it doesn’t give them a pass to just blanket diagnose people.
I have seen some of the best doctors in my area about my back but one thing that I have learned is they aren’t always given that reputation from their bed side manor or how much time they spend with each patient. It’s usually there ability to perform. They are experts at cutting problems out…literally (you just hope that what they are cutting on is actually the problem).
The same goes with how you experience your pain. There are so many ways we end up hurting our back whether it’s playing a sport, walking up stairs, bending over and lifting something or sitting for too long. We keep telling ourselves my back hurts when I sit or when I use a shovel to lift something but it never hurts while doing anything else. This is a perfect example of how the brain trains your body to get inline with the words that you speak. If you only experience pain when sitting and nothing else you better believe no matter what you do or how you sit your back will always hurt from sitting. This is that Voo Doo, psychological stuff I’m talking about. Thousands of people dealing with some kind of back pain are literally convincing themselves that whatever activity it was when they first experienced the pain is still the main cause of their pain. Dr. Sarno does a great job at explaining the connections between these conditioned thoughts and reality in his book I linked above. Check it out!
What if the words that your doctor choose could make an impact on your recovery?
I was listening to a podcast the other day where they were interviewing a back specialist and getting his latest treatment theories and you know what he spent the whole hour talking about? How powerful a doctors choice words are when it comes to a patients recovery and diagnosis. It got me thinking about my own experience with the specialists I have seen. I remember the day I was first diagnosed with a ruptured disk. The dude just dropped the bomb on me and basically just left. I was barely even 21 when I found this out. You would think he would want to give me positive vibes and tell me not to worry too much that they are lots of things I can do to live a relatively pain free life. Naw not him, all he said was my only real chance of living pain free was to lower the activity that causes irritation and to get the two vertebra’s fused.
Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do for you other then tell you that there IS HOPE. Your back is not TOO CROOKED, your not TOO OLD, or TOO FAR GONE not to live pain free. Don’t ever forget that your doctor works FOR YOU! As your primary specialist you need to get him to fight for you not just read you the results from a test. I know people who are grown adults and live a life based around what a doctor told them over 10 years ago! That’s insane! Especially now that people are having back surgery left and right who don’t really need it. Yeah the healthier option may take a little more time and effort on your end but ultimately you could come out from under that knife in worse shape then you were before you went in.
If your going to see your doctor for the first time or are going back for a second opinion keep these things in mind:
1) Take what the doctors say with a grain of salt. Each one will say something different that stays close to their area of specialization. If you notice a pattern then great but if its all over the place then move on and stick to the more holistic health based approaches for now.
2) Surgery is NOT your only option. A doctor will never prescribe you a specific training program or lifestyle habit improvement program. They don’t have time to hold your hand and work with you. Whatever is easiest for them to is going to be what you hear.
3) Don’t pay attention to word choice. I know this seems strange but negativity attached to your diagnosis will wreck your subconscious mind. By simply speaking a certain way towards you can either make or break your recovery.
4) You are not made of glass so anything your doctor tells you that makes it seem that way is a lie.
4) Educate yourself! Pick up Dr. Sarnos book. Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection. I got mine for my kindle here
I understand there a lot of situations where medication or surgery is the only option due to the severity of the situation but I am talking about the 80% of Americans who will deal with back pain at some point in their life. The majority of back pain can be prevented or reversed if the proper treatment is started as soon as possible. If your going for a second opinion or for your first time pay attention to any structural damage the doctor talks about. Don’t pay attention to what he says about “fixing it”. Just get the diagnosis. You can easily start doing some of the things on this site that will start the healing process you need.
Thanks for reading guys!