Tag Archives: back pain

#12 Back pain: the truth and the science to prove it

This is the second part of a blog about back pain.  This blog deals with the MBS approach to understanding back pain.

 

How can back pain occur in the absence of something wrong with the back?

 

There is a way to explain this based on new research into how the brain changes over time (neuroplasticity).  One way is to consider what happens in phantom limb syndrome.  In this situation, there is pain in the area of the body that is missing; that has been amputated.  Clearly, there is nothing wrong with the area where the pain is felt, yet there can be severe pain.  In this case, the pain appears to be due to sensitization of nerve fibers that go back to the brain, amplification of pain in the brain and a conditioned response of nerve fibers going back to the body.  The brain and body have in essence learned to have this pain.  The nerve connections have gotten fired after the amputation, but then have gotten “wired” and keep sending pain signals, which are felt to be in the amputated limb.  It is likely that back pain (and other pain syndromes, including headaches, abdominal and pelvic pain, whiplash, fibromyalgia and TMJ pain) is caused in many people by similar nerve pathways. 

 

 

 

What triggers this type of back pain to start and become chronic?

 

The answer is surprising and even offensive to some people and that is stress and emotional reactions to stressful events.  A classic study showed the Boeing employees over four years and found that psychological stress predicted back pain much more than any other variable, including how much they used their back on their job.  Other studies in Sweden, Holland, and England showed similar findings.  In fact, job satisfaction is the most important factor that appears to determine if someone will develop chronic back pain or return to work after back surgery.  Continue reading

#11–Back pain 101–How modern medicine gets it wrong…

Conventional “knowledge” tells us that we were not meant to walk upright and that backs typically degenerate over time which leads to chronic back pain.  If back pain was caused by degeneration of the back and the discs between the vertebrae, then it would make sense that back pain would increase with age.  This is not the case however.  Back pain actually drops a bit after age 65.  We have been told that back pain will occur more often in people who use their backs more often.  However, in studies from around the world, more people have back pain in industrialized, modern societies than in rural, agrarian societies. 

 

What is the cause of back pain?  There are several serious medical conditions that can cause back pain, such as a vertebral fracture (usually a compression fracture seen in the elderly or those with osteopenia), cancer of the vertebrae (seen in those with metastatic breast, lung or prostate cancer), serious abdominal conditions such as rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, pancreatic cancer, rupture of a duodenal ulcer, or infections such as osteomyelitis, epidural abscess or diskitis.  Fortunately, these conditons are relatively rare and easy to diagnose with modern imaging techniques (X-ray, CT or MRI). 

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Mindfulness and the Mind Body syndrome

MBS Blog —  #9 Mindfulness Meditation

 

I have been a devoted and passionate teacher of mindfulness meditation for about 15 years.  Many people have misconceptions about meditation.  The most common misperception is that meditation is about relaxing.  Of course, meditation may be relaxing at times, but not always and the intent is not relaxation, but obtaining a better understanding of yourself, and learning to respond to body sensations and thoughts/emotions more deliberately, and learning to live fully in the moments of our lives.  Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that asks people to simply pay very close attention to the here and now, to the present moment, to what is happening right now, whatever that may be.  One of the great things about mindfulness is that one can practice it at any moment, no mater what you are doing or what is going on.  That makes it quite useful as a way to cope with the ups and downs of life.

 

The reason to learn mindfulness meditation techniques for people with Mind Body syndrome is that it can help a great deal in learning to live fully in the present and to learn to let go of some of the things that tend to perpetuate MBS, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, issues from the past, or worries about the future. 

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Letter to Dr. Schubiner from Paul Mazzafero

June 21, 2008

 

Letter to Dr. Schubiner from Paul Mazzafero, Davie, Florida

 

 

I first suffered excruciating back pain in 1984 as a 20-year-old young man. I had searing back and calf pain. I eventually had surgery in 1988 to remove a synovial cyst off my sciatic nerve. However, post surgery the pain was still there. I was scared I would be like this for life and was in pain management. I eventually picked up a book by Dr. Sarno and read it. I went to the Dr. and he assured me my back was fine. I was so emotionally damaged at this point I did not know what to do since I had already been to 21 doctors and had every test, steroid, epidural, etc. I eventually said, “I am fine and this is psychological”. I proceeded to workout like a madman and eventually the pain left me for 16 years. In fact I went on to compete as a boxer and was very active.

 

Fast forward to 2004, when I was throwing 100 pound logs and felt the dreaded pop and searing calf pain. “Uh oh,” I said and went to my GP and he ordered an MRI which was negative.  However, I still had the calf pain. P.T. did not work…..Epidurals did not work……Massage did not work….Chiropractic did not work….Books, exercises, you name it and nothing worked. I was on prednisone and gained weight. I stopped working and contemplated ending it all. I am a vociferous reader and came across your program and within doing the 1st night of journaling I felt relief, not 100% but I felt like a layer was being peeled off an onion. I realized I was in a miserable job when this happened and that I am a perfectionist and I could understand how these factors played an important role in my back pain. Anyways, long story short: within 3 weeks of doing the online program, I was feeling 90% better but still skeptical a little. However, after 6 weeks, I have been pain free 100%. Dr. Schubiner’s course was an introspective look at what makes me tick. I do not think the pain will come back. In fact the 1st week when I started to feel better, an old neck injury and pain mysteriously returned…..I laughed out loud. When I am stressed, I pull out my notebook and read my journal and sometimes re-watch the videos.

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Mind Body Syndrome is contagious

#6—Mind Body Syndrome is contagious

 

When I first started learning about Mind Body Syndrome a few years ago, I was struck by an account by someone who had what is known as repetitive stress injury.  He wrote an eloquent account of his story, which was published on Kim Ruby’s excellent web site (www.tarpityoga.com) on MBS or TMS, as Dr. Sarno coined the term, Tension Myositis syndrome.  In his account, he spoke of having had RSI many years before, but it got triggered after going to hear a lecture about it. 

 

Medical students are well aware of how the suggestion of the symptoms of an illness can produce those symptoms.  It even has a name, “medical studenitis,” since it is quite common to develop some symptoms of the disease you are studying. 

 

Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot in France in the 1800’s had a clinic for what was known as “hysterics” in the day, although these disorders (now we realize are forms of MBS) were considered to be genetic at the time.  In his clinic, people with headaches, abdominal pain, anxiety, etc. would arrive and Dr. Charcot had “discovered” that there was a progression to this disorder in distinct stages: motor tics (brief, rapid tic-like movements), clowning (striking bizarre poses and holding them), hysterical seizures (shaking as if in a seizure).  Amazingly, when people entered his clinic, they would almost inevitably pass through these stages, confirming Dr. Charcot’s beliefs.  There was a young woman with headaches who came to the clinic.  Her roommate was in the tic stage, and the next day the young woman had developed the same tics.  The power of suggestion is can be extremely strong, especially when given by a powerful person.

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