Today I'd like to share my tribute to Dr. John Sarno, who although the two of us never met or spoke, was instrumental in curing my intense, chronic low-back pain.
His ground-breaking ideas have brought healing to thousands of people, and undoubtedly could bring pain relief to millions more who suffer throughout the world. The individuals who have benefited from Dr. Sarno's books, and therapy come from many different walks of life, but they all have one thing in common; they are open minded enough to try a new way of thinking.
Sadly, we lost Dr. Sarno this past June at the age of 93. I truly wish I could have met him, but this small thank you will have to do for me.
If you have a story of healing from Dr. Sarno's life work, please share it on the site. You'll find a link on my TRIBUTE page at thankyoudrsarno.org/, as well as other information about Dr. Sarno, and a link to a new documentary film: All the Rage (Saved by Sarno).
Responsibility: It’s not exactly a fun word, but then it all depends on how we chose to think about it. If we view it as a 'punishment', then yes, we probably do want to avoid it. It is a STICK for us.
If we see our responsibility as more of a ‘reward’ to help us resolve a problem we are trying to fix. It is a CARROT for us.
Here is a common, real world example:
Approximately, 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that's 1 in every 4 deaths.1 Often, heart disease is caused by eating a diet that makes us sick; destroys the vascular system; brings us misery; costs us billions as a society; and takes our lives too early.
So, how do we view our responsibility in regard to this issue? If we close our eyes to it, we are seeing this responsibility as a STICK. If we choose to alter our diet, and change our health, we are seeing this responsibility as a CARROT.
Responsibility extends to Tension-Based Pain as well. There may be many different factors that bring us tension, contracted muscles, lack of blood flow to those muscles, muscle spasms, and pain. Some of these stressors may include the following:
We can continue to look away from our responsibility in regard to stress, tension and pain, but it will most likely catch up with us, cause suffering, and potentially stop us from living the lives we want. Whether we choose to take action or not, the responsibility is actually still with us. Hopefully, we will choose the right path, and find our way to positive, enjoyable, and rewarding lives…
Peace to you all, whatever your choices may be…
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
There is a phrase that I’ve been hearing, and thinking about a bit lately: Maintenance Drugs or Maintenance Medications). What does that mean exactly, and how does that concept apply to other spheres of life?
Following is a definition for Maintenance Drugs: “Medications prescribed for chronic, long-term conditions that are taken on a recurring basis. Some conditions that may require maintenance drugs are: high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
The use of these drugs has been normalized to the population by the drug industry through unrelenting advertising on television, in doctor’s offices, and on the internet. Many believe these drugs are an unavoidable part of every day life, and growing older. Health Care Professionals are often quick to prescribe these drugs, and make little attempt to get patients to make serious, required lifestyle changes in order to avoid taking these ‘drugs for life’.
Generally, people with high cholesterol EAT TOO MUCH FAT; people with diabetes EAT TOO MUCH SUGAR/CARBS/FAT; and people with high blood pressure are often SEDENTARY, OVERWEIGHT, AND OVER STRESSED. There are people who are predisposed to these illnesses, and therefore they must take these medications to stay alive, but the majority of these lifestyle illnesses are self-inflicted. That may sound harsh to some, but it is true.
These drugs suppress our body’s response to our unhealthy choices, and maintain our ability to be fat, sick, depressed, and stressed until the next major medical crisis occurs. It is 'bandaid' medicine with no thought of curing the under lying causes.
Prescription drugs can also be used to mask unhealthy mental conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, and other untreated psychological conditions. These drugs suppress the way we are, and the way we really feel, so that we may continue to ‘kick the can’ down the road.
Prescribed drugs are not the only things we use to mask our problems, and unhealthy behaviors. Illegal drugs, or misused pharmaceutical drugs, as well as alcohol are other devices we use to cover up our feeling, and problems, which allows us to avoid dealing with them, NOW.
Ask yourself, what are the things that you are *maintaining* right now?
* Maintaining Illness
* Maintaining Pain
* Maintaining Stress
* Maintaining Fear
* Maintaining Paralysis
* Maintaining Sadness
Maybe you are taking a lot of prescribed medications, maybe you are taking pills you shouldn’t be taking, or drinking a lot of alcohol to help you cope with the problems in your life. So, you find you are able to MAINTAIN for a while longer; perhaps a decade, a year, or maybe just another month until your body, and mind can no longer compensate. There is no way to know for sure.
As you look at your maintenance existence; maybe you realize that you can do better; that you deserve to live better; that you were put on this Earth for something better, or you want something more for yourself.
The wonderful thing about our bodies is that they are always in healing mode, and always ready to return to health, if we take care of them. Everything can begin to change for the better tomorrow, today, or this very hour - it is as ever, your choice…
Perhaps you wake-up in the morning, and as soon as you are conscious, you're finding that you already feel as if the day has gotten over on you before it has even begun.
You've got problems, not just one problem, but several problems that seem overwhelmingly oppressive. There are family issues, a disagreement with a neighbor or friend, some difficulties at work, and health or financial worries to contend with each day. How can you ever feel satisfied with life while all of these troubles are constantly pushing their way into your consciousness?
There is a way - De-Miserate Yourself. Follow the steps below to begin to de-miserate your life.
Let Your De-Miseration Begin!
Allodynia translates from Ancient Greek to “Other Pain”.
This type of pain is sometimes associated with fibromyalgia, neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, and migraines. The excerpt below describes a new treatment for migraines that treats the cause as tension.
Except from ‘The TBP Newsletter - September 2016 Issue’
I’ve been thinking a lot about the cause of pain, and the way in which sufferers often never receive a true explanation of it. There may be an unspoken verification of that cause, which I refer to as an invisible diagnosis. The invisible diagnosis is known to the doctor, but never stated clearly to the patient. If you’ve ever asked to see your medical files, you quickly find out that they don’t want you read what they have written about you and your health. In many cases tension is the cause of the pain, but most patients will never hear this from their doctors. The patients will be offered a series of physical treatments for ailments that may be mostly somatic in nature. These treatments may alleviate the pain for a little while as blood circulation increases, but it most likely never resolve the true cause of the pain.
Some of us know that there are treatments, and therapies to reverse and overcome Tension-Based Pain, like TMR (Total Muscular Relaxation), and the management negative emotions. It is sad that there are many therapies to manage, even cure Tension-
Based Pain, but patients are more likely to find a needle in the proverbial haystack than be offered such a recommendations from their doctors.
I’ve been intrigued at the recent increase in the medical application of BOTOX (BOTULINUM TOXIN) for a myriad of tension based conditions. What Botox does when it is injected into the body is block signals from the nerves to the muscles.
Essentially, the BOTOX breaks the circuit, so that the injected muscle can no longer contract. This serotype interferes with neural transmission by blocking the release of the organic chemical acetylcholine, which is the main neurotransmitter at the neuromuscular junction (where the muscle meets the nerve). This therapeutic action causes muscle paralysis, which will cause the injected muscles to relax and soften.
Stop and think about that. We are so unwilling to get to the crux of our issues that we would prefer to paralyze parts of our bodies with poisons rather than examine the cause of our tension.
BOTOX is offered in several medical uses, such as certain eye disorders, crossed eyes (strabismus), uncontrolled blinking (blepharospasm), muscle stiffness/spasms or movement disorders (such as cervical dystonia, torticollis), overactive bladder, severe underarm sweating, as well as for cosmetic purposes; such as on forehead lines, crow's feet, and frown lines.
BOTOX may cause life threatening side effects that include problems with swallowing, speaking, or breathing. This is due to weakening of the associated muscles, and these effects can be severe, and may result in loss of life. Some swallowing problems may last for several months, and are caused by the unintended spread of toxin in the body. The botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the target sites, and may result in symptoms that include: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, and trouble swallowing. These side effects are described on the WebMD website (http://wb.md/2cLITgE).
This BOTOX treatment requires a series of injections made directly into the head and neck to prevent headaches in adults with chronic migraines. So, there it is; the cause of migraines is Tension-Based Pain. If migraine headaches were not tension based; the treatment would not alleviate the pain.
Now we know that migraines are caused by simple tension, that begs the question, ‘Why do we spend tens of millions of dollars each year to solve the ‘mystery’ of migraine headaches when clearly we already know the cause?’ The medical community is aware that migraine headaches are caused by tension, and the physical muscle contraction, which is a reaction to stress. They are treating the body’s reaction to tension, but is this revealed to the patients?
It is sad to me that many medical issues could be more simply treated with relaxation techniques, as well as effective management of stress, and negative emotions, but for many health care providers the first choice is often expensive therapies that are short-lived, and may result in severe complications or even death.
Do you have an invisible diagnosis for your pain? Before accepting any potentially dangerous therapy, please make sure you understand the pathophysiology of your pain. Be sure to exhaust all of the simplest methods and therapies first to help you reduce your risk.
Sometimes life just sucks...
We wake up in the morning, we have aches or pains, we go through our day, and the pain can get worse, sometimes much worse. We might do something as benign as reaching down to pick up something off the floor, and find ourselves in excruciating pain. With all the things we have to manage each day, family, work, community, and home responsibilities; pain can seem like the very last thing we have time for, but it can not be denied.
If we can stop for a minute, and do an honest inventory of ourselves at the moment, what is it that we notices about our bodies? Most likely we will detect that our bodies are not at peace.
We may have:
So, what is causing all of these tight, clenched muscles in our bodies?
[Tension Pain Flow]
The tension, and pain is generated from inside of us. Our own reaction to the stressors in our life cause the tension that reduces the blood flow to certain muscles, such as our low-back, legs, neck or shoulders. That muscle contraction robs the muscles of oxygen, which brings us pain. When this Tension Pain Flow continues for some time it becomes chronic, and that will lead to muscle failure when there is not enough oxygen for the muscles to operate properly.
So what to do?
This is a two-fold problem which can be resolved.
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Please take a few moments to read this thoughtful, and well written article written by Jessica Mendes and published in The Globe & Mail. See link above.
Jessica describes life with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and emphasizes the need for interdisciplinary research on this mysterious neurological illness.
Vacation - just the sound of it is relaxing. Other than taking some well deserved time off of work, what is it about getting some R&R that brings us such positive feelings?
One of the many benefits we find is that we may have less Tension-based pain. What is it about having time away that has the ability to reduce our chronic back, neck or shoulder pain?
There are so many uplifting qualities to a vacation/holiday that are restorative to the mind as well as the body.
CHANGE IN ROUTINE - Stepping out of our daily grind is a positive and uplifting experience. Not having to set an alarm clock, get up at the same time each day, travel the same route to work, or complete the same household chores on perhaps the same weekly schedule is a burden lifted, and can make life more interesting.
DISTRACTIONS - Going new places, taking on new adventures, eating different food, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures can wake up the mind, allow us to forget our problems for a bit, and make us feel more alive.
TIME TO REST - Allowing ourselves time to nap, rest, and get a full night's sleep is restorative to body and mind. Sleep deprivation is not only bad for us, but is actually dangerous. Plenty of quality sleep is the very foundation of good health, and well-being.
TIME TO REFLECT - When we find ourselves out of our day-to-day routine, we have to stop, and consider the present. That perspective about what is going on in our lives is valuable. What issues are we facing, what path are we going down, what is important to us, who is important in our lives, and what do we see and plan for in our future.
SLOWED SCHEDULE - Slowing our schedules down, and taking control of the way in which our day will unfold can give many of us an uplifting sense of power. We may feel that we are at the beck and call of others, and often dogged with obligations when we are at home in our daily lives. Deciding when to wake, and how to organize our day may fill us with sense of purpose and control.
TIME TO GET LOST IN THOUGHT - How often do we allow ourselves time to dream, dawdle in our thoughts, and think ‘what if’? When we give ourselves time away from our hectic daily existence, we make space for the kind of deep thought that allows us to invite positive change into our lives.
When we remove ourselves from our daily stressors, we often find that our chronic tension-based pain is diminished or it may disappear completely while we are away. If we are able to temporarily lessen, or dismiss our chronic pain when we travel or just take some time off, then that tells us we are able to control our Tension-based pain in some way. That can give us hope!
What’s the answer - a permanent vacation/holiday? It sounds good, but is not realistic for most of us. Instead, look at the restorative options above and imagine how you can weave some of them into your day-to-day.
Can you change your daily routine somehow, and take something out of your schedule, or say no to obligations, so you’ll have more time to rest, reflect, and dream? Removing the stress, and monotony out of life can be another powerful tool in the battle over Tension-based pain.
READ BACK STORY
When you are in pain, such as back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, how do you decide how to get the help you need to get better? Perhaps you ask your friends, family or co-workers for their suggestions. Maybe you have a trusted health care professional (HPC) that you turn to for advice on medical issues. Maybe you just search for a practitioner in your area that seems to be the right fit for your particular problem. All of those options are reasonable approaches, and hopefully one of them will get you exactly what you need to resolve your issue, but what if they don't? What do you do then?
If you do what I did for many years, you'll go back to the same HCPs with the hope that they will have something new to try on the next visit. Conceivably, you may see an HCP of the same type, or perhaps a new type of practitioner for some different kind of therapy. Some of these professionals might have procedures, therapies, exercises or prescriptions that offer promise, and maybe even relief for a while, but eventually you'll find yourself in pain again. You'll have another extreme pain event where you find yourself lying in bed, unable to get out of bed, and go on with your normal life.
My experience over decades left me with the feeling that I would never be free of the crushing low-back pain that plagued me. Time, and repeated disappointment had taught me that this chronic pain I was feeling was permanent, and that there was no reason to hope I would be free of it.
Thankfully, I was introduced to the concept that the pain was actually caused by my own tension, and at that moment I felt sure this was my problem, and it was. I developed a method to overcome my tension, and deal with the stress and negative emotions, which were the basis of my problems.
Over those decades, I would go to doctors, and other HCPs that specialized in back problems, because the pain I experienced was very severe, and I thought surely that I had a devastating physical problem. All of those HCPs were well meaning, competent, and I'm sure they did their best for me, but none of them understood that the essence of my issue. They all treated the wrong problem. It was a lack of oxygen to the muscles of the back (chronic hypoxia) caused by contraction of the tension. Tension seems like a simple problem that can be brushed aside, but in fact it can can have devastating effects on the body.
What would I recommend to younger self years into my search for relief from chronic low-back pain?
READ BACK STORY
After trying every conventional therapy for crippling, chronic low-back pain, I discovered the problem was completely within my control. I experienced an amazing health transformation in a matter of weeks. Mind-Body medicine worked for me, and it can for can too!