Have you ever been told that your chronic back pain is all in your head? This is the theme of a new upcoming documentary entitled “Story of Pain,” inspired by the work of Dr. John Sarno, a rehabilitative specialist at New York University. His research and numerous books claim that chronic back pain from conditions, such as stenosis of the spine, originate in your mind and may not require invasive procedures such as spinal surgery.
Film writer Michael Galinsky was inspired to make this movie following his own bout with intense back pain and treatment under Dr. Sarno. It turns out that several well known people, including shock-jockey Howard Stern, reporter John Stossel and the late actress Anne Bancroft have all benefited from the doctor’s treatment approach.
So how does this mind-over-pain treatment actually work? Dr. Sarno’s theory holds that low back, buttocks and leg pain, commonly associated with conditions such as stenosis of the spine, may in fact be linked to Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS): psychosomatic musculoskeletal and nerve symptoms arising from repressed emotional pain. So, rather than recommending spinal surgery, he would prescribe a plan for the patient to resolve the underlying emotional pain.
This treatment typically requires that patients write introspective essays about troubling emotional issues, resume normal lifestyle activities and often receive psychotherapy. He believes that physical pain is a subconscious coping mechanism, which detracts from overwhelming emotional pain. As the patient successfully confronts these issues, according to Dr. Sarno’s theory, the back pain will subside.
Whether or not TMS treatment protocols seem promising, it would be best to receive a complete medical evaluation to correctly assess the source of your back pain. If you have a structural cause for the pain, such as stenosis of the spine, then perhaps spinal surgery or a minimally invasive procedure could prove to be the most beneficial and effective treatment. However, caring for your emotional health and releasing tension from stress is always a great thing you should do for yourself, and this may even help you hasten your path toward a more positive outcome from a comprehensive spine treatment program.