I suffered from debilitating back spasms, stiffness and pain for more than 15 years. I had been to doctors, back surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, did back exercises daily but still continued to be controlled by my back issues. I had been told by a chiropractor that my back pain was due to scoliosis (I don't have scoliosis as it turns out). An MD told me back pain comes after having your second baby and by having weight around the middle. I was examined by a leading back doctor in Boston who said I had a pinched nerve without his doing any tests. Another time I was also told I had a slipped disk. When I called the physical therapist who I had gone to for six weeks that the pain was back, I was told that there wasn't anything else he could do for me.
After yet another stretch of back spasms that were now coming every other month and keeping me laid up in bed, I discovered by default and by desperation, that there was a mindbody component to back pain and as it turns out to many other manifestations of body pain. I had heard about this years before on a 20/20 show with John Stossel, but at the time, I was not open enough to the mindbody connection to accept this approach or to think that it might apply to me. I was entrenched in the cycle of pain and was out of options for relief and decided to read more about this method even though I thought it was not going to help me. I ordered the book and as I read it, I was able to relate to the predominate personality type who experiences pain. Within a few weeks, I found myself sitting cross-legged on my bed, a position I was told never to do as it was bad for the back. After six weeks the pain was totally gone. And when it did come back a year later, I was totally mystified and upset as to why. When I figured out the emotional reason, the back pain was gone in one day. Miraculous. That was in 1999 and I have been spasm free since then. I do get twinges from time to time but they are usually gone very quickly. My life has been free from pain restrictions and I have been able to participate in life without the worry that my back is going to go out if I lean over to pick up a tissue!
Interestingly, I have tried to share my knowledge with others and because they are not yet open to the connection between emotions and body pain, I have met with great resistance. I have heard that the doctor said they had arthritis or they had an accident and that's why their back, knee, neck, or leg has given them pain since then. The MRI shows this and that. The truth is that 90% of all body pain is mindbody according to John Sarno, MD who published "Healing Back Pain" in 1991, the book that "healed" me. MRIs show lots of things but that does not mean that the pain is directly coming from the so called abnormality. Grey hair is a normal abnormality but it doesn't mean anything significant except the cells that produce hair color are dying. That's normal in people who are getting older. Many doctors try to find a physical cause of pain when in actuality, most times, the pain is due to muscles, tendons and nerves responding to emotions. This is why, given time, the back or neck pain will go away without aggressive treatment.
I went back to school after being out of the academic world for a great many years to get my master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. I feel privy to a method that I know can help others as it has helped me to break the cycle of pain and I wanted to learn as much as I could to help others who are living daily lives in discomfort. This is a simple practice which needs no exercise or medication to work, just an openness to the fact that emotions can create havoc on the body.
Michele Lowenthal MS, MHC / mind-body counselor