Did you know that according to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low back pain on any given day? It’s the leading cause of disability and the most common reason for missing work, and it costs us more than $50 billion per year! But most back pain isn’t the result of serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture, or cancer, which means that drugs and surgery aren’t always the answer.
When I was in my late twenties I suffered from severe back pain. There were days when I’d bend over and not being able to stand up again. It was debilitating—sometimes so bad I was bedridden. Living on pain relievers wasn’t the answer. Anyone who has had a bad back knows what I’m talking about.
I finally went to a neurosurgeon who performed several MRI scans and determined that I had two herniated discs—L4 and L5. After he explained the test results he turned to me and said, “You have two choices: Either get on the table and I’ll operate, or you can live with the pain.” The idea of elective surgery scared the living daylights out of me, so I left the office before I could change my mind. There was no way I was going to have that operation, but there was also no way I was going to let back pain ruin my life. I tried every holistic treatment I could—from acupuncture to chiropractic—and each one slowly contributed to my healing process. Eventually I was pain-free.
I always believed that my determination had something to do with my freedom from pain, and a recent meeting confirmed my suspicion.
I had lunch with Dr. David Hanscom, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in complex spine problems. Initially I was intimidated because I didn’t think I would have anything in common with a spine surgeon, but when he started speaking about his personal experiences with trauma, how so much of what he had learned about pain management wasn’t taught in medical school, and how a vast percentage of our wellness was up to us, I connected instantly! We both have a passion for helping people find their paths. His mission is aligned with Rewire Me’s, and I’m excited to help spread the word and the great work of this amazing doctor.
Here is Dr. Hanscom’s 5-Stage Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain:
Stage 1: Address anxiety. Pain increases anxiety. But when we use mind-body principles, alternate neurological pathways are created to diminish it.
Stage 2: Deal with anger. Being trapped by pain is frustrating. You must break loose from your anger in order to move forward.
Stage 3: Go from reactive to creative. You have been in survival mode. Free yourself from your painful past and create a full life.
Stage 4: Take back your life. Chronic pain isolates you. Re-establish a nurturing home and valuable friendships.
Stage 5: Live a rich, full life. Connect with the beauty of life—awakened, recharged, and full of hope. Your pain will be a distant memory.
You can learn more on his website.
Nowadays I lead a very active life involving many kinds of exercise—yoga, bike riding, weight training, skiing, hiking, and more. Once I chose to be free from back pain and did the work to overcome it, nothing could stop me from being active. What about you? Is Dr. Hanscom’s roadmap your guide out of chronic pain?