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8 In Blog/ Chronic Back Pain/ Mindset

How the mind body syndrome may be causing you pain

the mind body syndrome |Healing back pain | tension myositis syndrome | the mindbody syndrome | piriformis syndrome | sciatica | back pain

Part of being a coach is to educate, and share information. If there is a treatment or tip out there that I feel will benefit you, you bet that I will be sharing it in this blog.  It truly saddens me to see people who have spent tens of thousands of dollars, and many years of their life trying to find a cure to their chronic disease.  I read people’s stories inside our community group, other back pain forums, and let’s not forget my own back pain experience. I personally have spent thousands of dollars in therapies and doctors. To give you an idea, here is a list of all the treatments that I’ve tried so far:

  • Physiotherapy (up to 7 months of treatment)
  • Athletic therapy (on and off from few weeks to months of treatment)
  • General Doctor (to prescribe anti-inflammatories). I’ve gone through several boxes of them for the past 7 years.
  • Heat and cold therapies
  • Foam rolling (it’s been an ongoing practice)
  • Massage therapy (on and off depending on the need)
  • Acupunture (up to 6 months of weekly treatment)
  • Acupressure (using the acupressure Spoonk mat)
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Chiropractic (up to 2 years of treatment)
  • Gaps diet
  • Low starch diet
  • Rheumatologist (for more anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants)
  • Knealing chair
  • Lumbar support pillows and pads for driving
  • Anti-inflammatory supplements (turmeric, fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin C, Aloe vera, OptiMSM, Collagen protein, Bone broth…etc.)

I’ll probably think of something else and come back to update this list, but for now that’s as much as I can remember.

Did these work? yeahhh…kinda. They gave me relief at that time. Did the pain come back still? Absofreakinglutely.

Dude, look at that list!  

I have heard from so many people, since starting this blog, whose chronic pains completely disabled them. A lot of people are under very strong pain killers and have undergone many surgeries.

I couldn’t happen but really think about this back pain phenomenon.

I mean, what happened to our backs. I remember both my parents working desk jobs and they never had back pain attacks like we seem to do. Check out this very interesting study here when you are done reading.

I have always been an active person, and I think it is very important to have a healthy active lifestyle, but you get what I mean.

My curiosity (and stubbornness) had me research this more, which brought me to this man called John Sarno. Let’s just say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears 🙂

PS: I will share all the resources I found on this topic at the end of this blog post. Also, don’t forget to download your back pain kit!

 

I got Sarno’s book a year ago. I read it, but it just didn’t click too much.  He emphasized the relationship between our bodies and minds and how a lot of times, our minds build these neural pathways connected to old injury sites. and even though the injury has originally healed, we still experience the debilitating pain.  This reminds me of the concept of neuroplasticity

I wrote about this in another blog post about treating piriformis syndrome, when nothing seems to be working.

“Where neuroplasticity comes in is when acute pain develops into chronic pain. Your body reacts to acute pain as it warns you that something is wrong. Usually, once the acute pain has been dealt with, either with medications or other treatments, the pain goes away and becomes a distant memory. However, over the course of a few weeks, months, and sometimes even years, your brain’s “wiring” may reorganize itself and tell your body that the chronic pain should be there and will stay there.”

Sourceneuroplasticity

THE MIND BODY SYNDROME

Dr John Sarno has healed thousands of people from back pain. He sees the back pain phenomenon (and a myriad of other chronic pains) as symptoms created by our unconscious minds to distract us from facing our inner fears, angers and stressed.  The pain is originating form an oxygen deprivation to the muscles and nerves which causes pain and it’s called tension myositis syndrome, tension myoneural syndrome and also, the mind body syndrome.

His patients heal through his educational lectures about this process, and once they understand that their brain is simply trying to distract them from facing those unbearable emotions, the trick no longer works.

 

Mind you, his patients are among the people who, pretty much, have “given up”. They are the “lost causes”.  They came to him out of despression after they tried everything out there, but nothing worked.  Most of them had MRIs and scans that showed herniated discs and arthritis.

 

Dr Sarno encouraged people to get an examination to rule out any serious diseases. But again, the people who came to him are the one who did all the exams, and could never find a cure.  I found this video here of Dr Sarno and his method, that I’d like to share with  you.

 

I know that it takes a very open mind to consider his theory and try it out. But there are so many other Dr’s who talked about the mind body connection, and how our current live stressors affect out mental wellbeing.

You probably feel it too.

It is perfectly acceptable to have a physical problem in our culture, but people tend to shy away from anything that has to do with the emotions.
― John E. Sarno, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection

 

I have to say that this is a whole new paradigm shift. It would take a lot to believe this 100% when you have seen the x-rays, the blood tests and the MRIs.  I have seen them too.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE MIND BODY SYNDROME

I keep looking at that huge list of treatment I tried so far, and see how much “physical” I got with my ways of treating back pain.  I have always considered myself a mindful person (I mean if we meditate and read, we must be mindful right?). But really, how much do I really know about my emotions and what my unconscious mind is trying to hide from me.  This is a whole new world that I have yet to explore.

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Dear reader, I invite you to look at Dr Sarno’s books and videos.  You may just never know. Perhaps you stumbled across this article because it was time for you to get to know your self better.  I felt the necessity to write this blog post because this blog is about education, empowerment and reclaiming health from the inside out.  I couldn’t possibly rule out the possibility that our emotions could be making us sick.  I had to simply share it.

Here are some resource if you are interested in the topic:

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Sand
    June 2, 2017 at 1:10 am

    I read his books months ago , I kept telling myself it is all in my head , but my back pain is still there , I am not hiding any emotions , so I am not sure if I believe in the body , mind connection , and my mind was very open

    • Reply
      Coach Sofia
      June 17, 2017 at 7:14 pm

      Many times it takes a second read to fully grasp his point. In fact, you couldn’t possibly feel those emotions because they are unconscious. A great book called the back pain deception is needed if this one was hard to grasp because it dive even deeper into the concept and helps you understand it better and gives you a treatment plan. I personally like to look at healing from 3 pespectives: physical, nutrition and mindset.

  • Reply
    Heather
    June 2, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Hi Sofia,

    I found your articles on Pinterest and am just starting my journey to find relief for my lower back and hip. Long story short…Last year in Septemeber, 2016, I hurt my back moving a table…I hurt my back years ago, healed, and regained my normal regimen much to my delight, but this time…not so much. The pain is tolerable at this point and in some points of the day, I feel ok. After the table, I took meds to heal and get back on my feet…but never came back to being 100% and sat dealing with the pain thinking it was stress…finally this year in February, 2017, I went back to the doctor, and a chiropractor and then an MRI to find out it was a herniated disk and started physical therapy…the PT helped the disk, but not the pain in my hip/buttocks. This pain is best described as if my bones would break if I moved or stretched a certain way. For months I sat still…not knowing I should be moving, I babied myself and wanted nothing but my heating pad and sitting still. I’m not one for medications so I just dealt with the pain…What bothered me the most…only in the last few weeks did I discover I’m dealing with sciatica/piriformis and not one doctor/physical therapist said this could be my problem. I’m upset they didn’t mention this could be the possible culprit and then offer the routine to help find the road to healing…a few weeks ago, after stopping physical therapy…getting weekly massages and buying tools to use at home, DVD’s, inversion table, massage table, that I realized something more is going on…I felt like a test rat and these doctors should have said something…so here I am and am hopeful to find a better way of life. Your blog is helpful in better understanding what and why this is happening…I’m starting to feel like I’ll be an expert in this field by the time I am done…I have read many articles and subscribed to a channel on YouTube where two physical therapists give daily videos on back techniques and found some of the exercises have helped and am feeling 50% better in the last two weeks.
    So this is how life looks now…I eat a healthy diet. No drugs. No alcohol. I started walking everyday…I have a stand and sit desk and walk during the day and evening…I find the walking helps. I work part time now since I work a desk job and can’t handle the 9-5 work day while dealing with this…I purchased two back care yoga DVD’s, inversion table…massage table for my home, money saver, foam roller, which I am not sure I will keep…I think I’ll go the tennis ball route vs roller and I do the recommended stretches on the daily…I use a pillow for my legs at night. Seems like I’m forgetting something else…but will say I feel like my life is based around this and miss the simple things like bending over or running. I gained 10 pounds in the last year and eager to get the weight off.
    With that said…Have you ever done an article on doctor’s diagnosis for those of us out here looking for the cure? What I mean is, I wish someone would have told me, preferably my doctor, that sciatica/piriformis was my issue…and the doctors acted as if they had no clue and prolong my agony and spend more money…
    How do you feel about inversion tables? Are they helpful/harmful?
    This turned out to be longer than expected and appreciate any feedback you may have. I’m grateful to find your information and will follow to keep up to date on your journey…best wishes and be well.

    Kind regards,

    H.

    • Reply
      Coach Sofia
      June 6, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Hi Heather!

      Unfortunately people with chronic pain find little help from traditional doctors (I’m not saying doctors are bad, they definitely save lives). The traditional route of pain killers, physio and rest is no longer working and they are means to manage symptoms. I also don’t find it helpful when physicians generate fear and makes people feel they are broken and can’t heal.
      I have personally spent thousands of dollars on all kinds of treatments and my life was just about back pain. I had to design my life around it.
      I truly understand your frustrations with sciatica and piriformis syndrome. It haunted me for years to the point when I forgot what being pain free felt like.
      I think inversion tables can be good (just like any other tool we use to help with symptoms), but is it going to be healing the root cause of the issue and restoring health for good? perhaps. It depends on how you look at it. I think the biggest issue with piriformis syndrome is that we let it control our lives and yess the pain is definitely too much. But we have to start living normally. We have to start doing things we love despite the pain and getting active. We need to take care of our bodies not babying ourselves and empowering our inner selves not feeling broken. Lately I have been doing a lot of research in the area of neuroplasticity, the nervous system and the unconscious mind and it’s astonishing to see how our minds can build more and more neuro pathways that reinforce the feeling of the pain..the more we associate ourselves with pain, the more of it we get. So, just like we do therapy and exercise, we also have to take care of our minds because we cannot isolate the body. I am not sure if you are interested in reading Dr Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain. If you do, here is another book that seriously changed my life: http://amzn.to/2sPMEcl It’s called the Great Pain Deception.
      You are doing all the right things Heather. Please take a look at those books to supplement your physical treatments and keep me posted. You can email me at any time also to keep it private 🙂

      Stay Strong

  • Reply
    Barbara Marquardt
    April 9, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Just stumbled upon you blog so I thought I’d leave a comment. It’s so surprising to me how few people are open to this. Once you believe in the mind/body connection and have experienced your pain melting, you just want to shout from the rooftops and shake people. WHY DO YOU WANT TO KEEP SUFFERING? I always tell people – you have tried every other method and they are not curing you. Why not try this one? What have you got to lose? If you still have your pain, OK, you are no worse off. But what about if you don’t? What if this could be real for you? Why are you afraid? Are you addicted to your pain? Do you need your pain because it defines you at this point? And lastly, how can even logically you believe that the mind does not play a part in our physical health and wellness? Our brains are not detached from our body. We are an intricate system of mindbody. There is no separation.

    • Reply
      Coach Sofia
      April 10, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      Hi Barbara,
      Thank you for your comment!
      You are SO right. I have been very surprised to see how few other coaches are open to this and I can see why. The majority of patients may be reluctant to accept this idea or feel like this idea conveys “you’re just making it up in your head” but the process of TMS or mind body syndrome is real. The brain will cause physical symptoms that can be felt and even seen in scans. Especially when autoimmune diseases are triggered by traumatic-stressful experiences, you can see the damages of cases like arthritis in the joints over the years. The other issue is that most physical coaches are focused a lot on the body. I, myself still sometimes struggle with this because I automatically think of the body. I have learned through the years to actually start with the mind and then the body. So it can be tricky for a professional whose profession is focused on the body to detach from that. But again, you are helping the patient so you have to think outside the box and investigate with them where the cause is. I love your questions too; when someone rejects this ideally from the start, you can clearly tell that they have gotten used and identified with that situation, and it has started serving them in a way (feeling like a victim/ getting help from others and attention) so it can be tough to detach from that. It takes a little work to get them to understand the process and then if they still don’t want to even try, they it’s really up to them to make that decision. People need to go through their own internal shifts to change and get so fed up with the pain that they are ready to try everything. Thanks again for your insights, it’s really great to connect with people who really understand that 🙂 I plan on writing more about it on the blog because as the tagline says, it all starts with the mindset 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen
    May 4, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Sofia, you are right on!!!!!!
    I am 80 now, but when I was 45 I began having constant usually intense neck and shoulder pain that soon shifted around my body but especially to sciatica, lower back pain and “tailbone” pain (usually one at a time). Doctors blamed it on a birth defect in my spine which I still have, of course – but no more pain!
    I had had the pain for two miserable years when I was led to Dr. Sarno’s books and within months I went and saw him in New York. Sure enough it was TMS (tension Myositis Syndrome, a mind body phenomenon.)
    I was repressing feelings, anger mostly, and within months after accepting his diagnosis, I was nearly pain free EXCEPT for the “tailbone” pain which lasted three more long years. In 1989 – 6 years from the beginning – it went away and has stayed away except for twinges now and then and a few attacks during high stress times. Instead of thinking “how did I move wrong?” I now think “What’s bugging me and/or what am I angry about? And the pain usually goes away in a few days.
    Strenuous exercise that gets the blood moving really helps – like walking, cycling, jogging, or swimming. I walk mostly. As I understand Dr, Sarno’s explanation, TMS is a circulatory problem in the body. The unconscious part of my brain is trying to distract me from thinking about my tensions by constricting the blood vessels and thus limiting the amount of oxygen to the muscles and nerves. Thus all kinds and intensities of pain occur, which totally occupy the conscious part of my mind.
    I know that I would have been a near invalid for the past 29 years if I hadn’t been led to Dr. Sarno and his knowledge cure. None of the good doctors I previously consulted or their therapies helped me at all.
    Unfortunately, most of the people I’ve shared this with have not accepted Dr. Sarno’s ideas and have remained in pain. Fortunately, a few have listened and have become well.
    Unfortunately, since Dr. Sarno passed on in 2010, one can no longer be diagnosed by him, but there are other physicians who are practicing medicine , dealing with the mind body syndrome , and offering helps to sufferers.
    Keep up your good work, Sofia. I hope that you continue to feel better.

    • Reply
      Coach Sofia
      May 4, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      Hi Karen,
      THANK YOU so much for your reply, and it’s so amazing to hear that you had the opportunity to meet Dr. Sarnos in person 🙂 I watched the documentary done about him called “All the rage” and it was fantastic and so valuable. You can rent it online as well if you haven’t seen it yet.
      Just like you described, TMS can take time for some, and I definitely believe it contributed to a lot of my pain, if not all. I know that I had many things wrong but what made me suspicious was the symptoms would completely disappear when I am in a good mental state like on vacation. So it got me curious about why that happens and after doing research I was introduced to his teachings. At first I didn’t know how to make it work for me but I’ve read a lot of his books and his DVD made things more clear, I also got more clarity reading the Great Pain Deception by Steven which complements Dr Sarnos teachings as well!
      I try my best to introduce his teachings to my audience, because I feel I had a responsibility to share that and I never know who I can help. There are some people who sound like they have TMS 100% but they are closed off to that idea so I don’t try to push it on anyone. Unfortunately, some get identified with the pain, and rely on it subconsciously to constantly get empathy or support from others so we have to be aware that there is a big piece of mindset to be addressed first. I try to address back pain from all angles so its a holistic approach, both mind and body and I am a huge believer that movement helps break that cycle because it builds confidence and strength so you get more courage to start moving and not stay focused on the pain too much.
      Thank you again for your comment, I love connecting with people like you who have used his teachings and learn about their experiences 🙂
      Have a great weekend Karen,

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