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A Spine Surgeons Roadmap Out of Pain

Nov 22, 2015 9:56 AM

Dear Community,
I want to share this link a with you: google "spine surgeon mercola" (unfortunately links don't work in the forum)

Speaking of chronic diseases it's always best to hear first-hand experience of people affected because they know best what its like to be in that situation. When the affected person is a doctor, there may be deeper insights into treatment effects.
In this article, a spine surgeon who suffered form chronic back pain suggests a conservative multimodal approach (no surgery!) composed of education, relaxation, physical training and expressive writing. As there is nothing new here,
what's interesting, is that he addresses the emotional component of chronic pain through expressive writing. Negative emotions play a BIG role in chronic pain and it's been my experience with patients that when negative emotions are addressed, the pain often relieves. Expressive writing is easy to do and cheap. It doesn't require a therapist and it's good for getting rid of emotional baggage.
Take a look yourself and tell me what you think

Nov 22, 2015 10:06 AM

We do expressive writing here. I think we do a good job of helping each other through the daily grind of chronic pain. If that spine surgery, then why is he a spine surgeon? πŸ’΅πŸ’΅, that's why. I wouldn't believe a word that Dr says unless I could see his MRI with his name on it myself.

Nov 22, 2015 11:42 AM

I suffer from chronic back pain and have scoliosis, now I am stressed daily because I take care of so many people and yes it does affect my pain and I do writing to and talk to my family on here and listen to my music. Sometimes well most of the time it just does not work, maybe because I don't have much time for me. But what I'd like to know is the success rate of having the RFA done every 6 months and also what are the long term negative side effects. The last RFA I had done it caused more pain to travel up my back and into my shoulders. Also does that radio frequency have Radiation? With cancer running in my family I'd like to limit my radiation exposure.

Nov 22, 2015 5:34 PM

Ahhh, that is why I started my blog. Funnytailbones.wordpress.com I try really hard to be honest with myself and anyone reading I t. When I am troubled about something to do with my illness and can't sleep I start writing, it does help. One of my docs even seems to be reading it, from her comments to me.

Nov 22, 2015 6:35 PM

Dear Dr. Mark (please forgive me for using your first name but I am struggling spelling your last name). I believe whole heartedly in the mind body connection and have always felt that medicine should treat the whole self. Having said that, I am a bit resistive when I'm told that I can journal or talk my pain away. I have spent years trying to be treated as though I'm not crazy because I have a syndrome that some doctors, even now, don't believe is real. It reminds me of how women were treated in the early 1900's being told their problems were a result of their uterus' roaming around their bodies. I have listened to some doctors saying fibro is real, it has a medical basis but then say the fix is to change the way I think. I am confused. If it was a matter of how I think or deal with stress then when I'm doing activities I enjoy shouldn't I hurt less? Like today for my instance, I spent it with my daughter and son-in-law going out for dinner and shopping. We had a wonderful time laughing and just enjoying being together. My daughter and I found some killer deals and the day was awesome, then the pain spiked. I was perspiring, shaking and couldn't stand up straight it hurt so bad. We took a break, sat down and I took a break thru pill. Within 20 minutes the pain level was down enough that I was able to walk out to the car and we called it a day. Now if I'm understanding the new thinking, shouldn't I have had less pain not more today? Or am I oversimplifying it? I am so confused. Any help you can give me in understanding would be appreciated.

Nov 22, 2015 8:12 PM

Dr. Mark,
Respectfully speaking, I have multiple issues with my lower back as well as mild spina bifida on top of that, which can't be surgically corrected. I have tried almost every therapy there is aside from acupuncture and massage. My pain has never even begun to ease significantly until I started doing the facet joint injections. Literally nothing was touching it. I did almost 6 continous months of PT with no results, I have tried expressive writing, but when I do bring that emotional baggage up, it just seems to amplify my pain levels entirely.

Nov 22, 2015 8:57 PM

Sounds interesting, although it is pretty well known info. I'm an artist, but as my disease has progressed, I've lost some abilities to draw, make music and am just getting back to writing.

I'm one of the people who writes easier than speaking, so it helps me, however if you need to say things to process, it might not help much, and I have to be careful because it doesn't take much for writing to do more harm than good.

I also lived with multiple parents who cause emotional stress, and not having much money. So, kicking my stepmom out of the house loosened depression, and helped me gain the energy to get all her stuff out in a month or three.

However, my meds have in many ways saved me, making it possible that I continue getting better. I may even have the chance to work, and I'd love to break the pattern of poverty in my family, even through my extreme awkwardness.

Just curious, are there meds the surgeon was on while also trying everything else? Also, are you a specific specialty? Just wondering, and do you know about DMSO and it's potential uses?

My dad and I both read PubMed and NCBI med and disease articles, which are more specific than the average article online. Also, in your opinion, what makes this persons perspective unique and interesting? Like, do their genetics have long term chronic health issues? Do they have scoliosis, and have been in and out of a wheelchairs from the age of 10? Did they have extra years to get through medical school after having their own health issues?

I'm a writer, and you don't have to know the answers, I'm just curious about the "why? "

Nov 24, 2015 3:02 PM

so when you were out with your family and laughing, was the pain present at that moment? Or did it come after. This is what I mean, pain is never the same. Maybe you overdid it and that triggered the pain. In some people "unlearning pain" works but over a long time. Take a look at this video about unlearning pain and tell me what you think https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KrUL8tOaQs

Nov 24, 2015 3:20 PM

What's remarkable about the surgeon is that he's been a doctor doing "reparative" medicine, "fixing" patients and then had a conversion to the multi-treatment approach. He emphasizes all important aspects like the learning about pain, the individuality of treatment, the persistence that is necessary, the emotional components and getting help through a coach or psychologist. The writing increases the self-awareness process and self-exploration and nobody interrupts you like in a conversation with a psychologist (!).
The neurophysiological disorder is nothing else than the "central sensitization" I talked about in the first article about Fibromyalgia. I can't answer the question about the meds because it depends on the cause. In chronic pain I use as little drugs as possible and avoid narcotics at all.

Nov 25, 2015 1:06 AM

When I had strong pain I couldn't write because it worsened my pain. But then I got a dictation software. I was able to write again in bed, standing or on a comfy chair. Maybe such software helps some of you who can't write because of the pain.

Nov 25, 2015 12:01 PM

What about supplements, or DMSO? I don't take many prescribed meds, except for allergy, and (I'm hoping) ADD meds

Nov 28, 2015 8:59 PM

Thank you for sharing this. πŸ™πŸŒΌ

Nov 28, 2015 9:44 PM

Taking a certified meditation class is what has helped me. Knowing and being with the pain can be challenging. It is with me also. So is my breath, it help to ground me many times, sometimes not but that is part of the practice. There are many types of meditation and ways it can be practiced. Jon Kabit Zin has many you tubes. There are some great books: the Rough Guide to Mindfulness, meditation for dummies, mindfulness for dummies. I have problems with reading and comprehension, I like the ones mentioned due to simplicity.
I think the mind is powerful and I am taking the chance to retrain myself and thoughts. Things have been difficult, I am no longer the person I was, I have had to change many things about myself. Starting with respecting myself. I also need to grieve the change. I am not alone, I belong to this community.

Nov 28, 2015 9:54 PM

You give NO Narcotics for Chronic Pain? I suffer from CRPS. Without other medications and OPIODS I would be dead. I have amazing doctors and most have cried with me. I utilize everything medication, mindful meditation, changing our home to meet my needs, learned what I can do, use ketamine creams, lidocaine patches and medical marihuana. But I hit a flare and I better have the list to start hitting it.

Nov 29, 2015 2:38 PM

Opioids give short term relief but sensitize pain in the long term. There is no free lunch so we avoid narcotics like the plague. Only short term use makes sense. I'm glad your doctors are compassionate.

BeetsRGood made a great point!
Take a look at this free e-book about Vipassana meditation http://www.panditarama.net/ebooks/inthisverylife.pdf
Read page 77-79 about the "strategies for dealing with pain: We have to develop courage of mind, heroic effort, to look at pain. Let’s learn not to run from pain, but rather to go right in."

Nov 29, 2015 5:45 PM

If I understand correctly, the idea here is that anger triggers the hormones that elevate our pain, and our pain elevated the emotions that trigger those hormones... So basically, since our emotional state affects our endocrine system, it also has an effect on our pain. (adrenaline, cortisol, etc) So the theory is that by writing everything that angers us, we will be able to control the release of the hormones that elevate our pain instead of letting them control us... Is that correct?

Nov 29, 2015 10:42 PM

Dr, i have found that if I get "angry" because of an increase of pain it just elevates exponentially. Then it turns into self pity. I "know" I am in pain but I refuse to use the word daily. It is such a cruel word to keep in ones vocabulary if you are faced with it daily. Also, I personally get fussed at because I am not "proactive " in taking the h - morphine prescribed. My own research shows that the more you "train" your body by taking meds, and telling it you are in pain that it does not give your nerves to take a break from you expecting it to be only pain you feel. The brain does take the easy route by saying " well the body was in pain yesterday so why not be so today". I am constantly finding that if I tell my body somthing it listens. I did a simple post on my blog about it and some told me itvwas hog wash, some tried it and have thanked me for writing bout my thoughts on the simple word "pain".

Nov 30, 2015 12:03 AM

Straight up reading the article would be a waste of my time. I do writing, listen to music on top of enjoying time with my young son and so forth. If only it could help the pain. Oh and lots of meds. I go to a couselor I am on plenty of mental meds too and the psychiatrist told me I am on seriously aggressive doses for anxiety and depression and it is not working. I try to enlighten them it is pain not depression but they say pain is depression. I think they need a psychiatric eval.

Now that said let me state in the following when I say dr I am not referring to you as a doctor just my experiences with the drs I have been to.

Diagnosed fibro no doctor would listen that i am in terrible pain. Oh its the fibro, exercise, stretch blah blah blah. After almost 10 years, 1.5 years ago, I let them put me on fibro meds out of desperation....then I am fibro looking for drugs. Finally by no small miracle I got a lumbar mri every disc in my lumbar is messed up. Then a cervical mri I have neck straightening, herniated disc, arthritis.... blah blah blah. Then you guessed it a thorasic mri. Which found more issues including my worst herniated disc with mild spinal stenosis in the shoulder blade area. Obviously due to risk that one the surgeon says no operation. I would give anything to just have a few hours where it didn't hurt. I can't even sneeze, cough or take a deep breath without it hurting

I am currently in my 2nd round of PT she gets it. Anything we do for one issue sets the chain reaction off for everything else.

The mind is a powerful thing but it can't cure ones issues. If it could no one would be sick, in pain or heck even die for that matter. It doesn't make a hill of beans if I am happy or sad, mad or glad it hurts the same.

In my opinion doctors set us up for more pain....years of telling us nothing is wrong. Making one feel like a hypochondriac and pushing oneself harder because they are being told nothing is wrong. Afraid to go to the doctor because you know they won't help hell most the time they don't even believe you. That causes the pain to get worse and not go away...Doctors avoiding doing thier job and the patients paying the price with thier life.

Nov 30, 2015 9:17 AM

Shammagren, I totally relate. It took 2+ years to get one doctor, out of five, to believe me when I said something wasn't right, that I couldn't have a normal bm. The rest kept saying, "It's your IBS, it's stress, eat more fiber..." The one doctor found a 10cm mass, but by then it had caused damage that I'm still dealing with. If I believed in lawsuits is have sure 2 of those docs. Fortunately for them, I believe what goes around comes around, and they have to answer to God, not me! Frame of mind only helps us emotionally and slightly physically. It doesn't cure us because the cause is physical, not mental. πŸ™πŸŒΌ

Nov 30, 2015 9:31 AM

Sham, I relate to it as well. Went into ortho begging for help. Started PT in February, didn't finish PT until June. Then went back to him, where he still accused me of drug seeking. All I was asking for was a second MRI just to be sure there were no herniated discs(thank god there weren't). I never even asked him for pain meds at that visit. Not even once because I was already on post-op pain meds. I couldn't even speak, I was so angry at that point. All I could do was nod my head yes or no. I felt like a ticking time bomb at that point. Needless to say, still have to go back for one more visit with him. Ugh!

Nov 30, 2015 2:25 PM

Thank you flappy and amanda. Obviously by a few of my posts lately I have had it with the BS. I am at my wits end and have pretty much been in bed the last week with pain so bad my eyes tear up and roll down my face in what I call the silent cry. My one herniated disc feels like it is pushing in like a knife and it is hard to breathe except shallowly. I have been listening to my favorite music and helping my 10 year old son make a to do by the time I am 18 list. We have all sorts of things planned...taking cooking and art classes together to another trip to disneyland. With zero income all we can do is dream. I started my own bucket list too. I love my shopping list app I have lists of my diagnosis, symptoms, bucket list and it works for groceries too. A local charity group gave us tickets to go see the sound of music play at a theater in seattle. It is Wednesday night so I am trying to get up and move more in small increments. And with my mind busy with my favorite music and happy thoughts of all the things we are going to do someday I hurt like he!!.

Nov 30, 2015 5:21 PM

I so feel for you Shammagren. My asthma & Costochondritis occasionally makes it difficult to breathe, and sometimes when I sneeze or cough I feel pain in my spine. But your description makes me want to cry for you. I wish I knew how to alleviate the disc pain. But as docs are too afraid to try and help in any shape, form, or fashion, my ideas are at a dead end. Try and rest up so you can enjoy the play. It's one of my all time favorites! I hope and pray for blessings on you and your family, if only for part of your bucket lists to be achieved.πŸ™πŸŒΌ

Dec 01, 2015 4:07 PM

DoUFeelLikeIDo, sorry for the late answer. I don't work on the app every day. It's more about writing down the thought that you suppress, all the negative thoughts, frustration, sadness and anger. When you give the awareness you release them. So it's about Awareness, detachment and reprogramming, like in meditation.
Yes, a negative state of mind like in anger leads to a negative physical state in the body. This can be stress and/or pain. It can also be fatigue. What happens to the hormones exactly when you write is not known. But the story shows how closely emotions and pain are linked. You can also read the transcript of the interview. I couldn't say it better than Hanscom does.

Dec 01, 2015 4:19 PM

zetarlov, what you tell your body is very important. Research in placebo proves this. What your body wants to tell you is a very good question!! We constantly shape those pathways between body and mind. You might have to look very closely and persistent. This is what Hanscom is talking about. Emotional patterns that work through the body and show up as pain. Release the emotions, release the pain. That's the concept. Read also the "strategies for dealing with pain" that I posted before in the ebook.

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