body and brain prodigy podcast

Body and Brain

A psychosomatic disorder or illness refers to one that is caused by stress and emotions. I spoke with Dr David Hanscom, a former orthopedic surgeon who quit his practice after 32 years to teach people why back surgery is usually not the answer. You'll also hear from a special guest.

Body and Brain

(transcripts are done automatically with as much editing as I have time for so probably won’t be perfect)

Lowell: When an illness or pain is psychosomatic, it means it’s caused by stress, but good luck telling someone in intense, prolonged pain that it’s all in their head, because it’s not actually all in their head. The origin of the stress is, but the physical manifestation is quite real.

It happens all the time. It’s not a question of if stress affects your body. That’s pretty obvious. All you have to do is measure someone’s blood pressure. It’s how do you stop it? Especially when most people can’t actually avoid the things that create distress. Life in general is pretty damn stressful.

I have some level of constant anxiety that I pushed down every day. I may not always see an immediate reaction like these freaking pimples that popped up last night, probably because I cussed out an anti-vaxxer yesterday. But over time, this can lead to debilitating chronic pain and a very common area for it to show up.

We used to consider this mainly pseudoscience or as I call it junk science. And I can understand why we don’t really understand the brain, all that well, and it does seem like the perfect place for a snake oil salesman to turn a profit. But we do know that the mind and body are powerfully interconnected.

So let’s find out how we can get better control over our own brains. My name is Lowell Brillante and this is prodigy.

So I’m a huge skeptic like, wow. That study has a cool headline, but where’s the meta analysis? And my dad is a notorious forwarder of articles. The ones that are like “eating lentils twice a week, shown to prolong lifespan” or “garlic can cure certain forms of cancer.” The last one he sent me was about curing chronic pain.

It was based on the work of Dr. Sarno. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but the next day I got an email from a public relations person that I really like to see if I was interested in doing an episode with someone on the same subject. That was pretty much enough to get me interested. How powerful is the mind-body connection?

So we scheduled it out a week later. My parents visited, so I sat down to record with my dad. This is Fred

Fred: My father had back pain like his entire life. I remember him a couple of times crawling into the house where he couldn’t be, do doing some gardening and he’d come in and tremendous back pain. Literally screaming in back pain.

The thing that I found odd that in all those years, growing up in the fifties and sixties, my dad has all this back pain. He retires at 65. And completely the back pain stops. I never ever after is your time and hurt any back pain. And you could argue a lot of things. He was an accountant, decided a desk all day long, but the truth is that the stress left his life.

And so the pain left his life. And so it’s the same thing with me. I was when I had my automotive shops, one of the shops, I was, I saw some well on floor. I picked up a heavy mop and I said, w cleaning it, twisting my body, like a golfer, twists his body. I just Grinch my back. And it was in tremendous pain.

So such pain that I was literally, I went to bed that night. I couldn’t get out of bed. I had to screw screech myself, dragged myself out of bed. First, I tried an orthopedic. I couldn’t get any appointments. We tried, went straight to a chiropractor. He saw us local chiropractor, went to his office. He tapped my back.

Tap tap. Nothing, but he showed me an x-ray. He said you have some serious problems. He said, I could see this in any show. Look, you said you don’t need to be at a doctor here. You could see that there’s no cartilage between the bones of these different parts of your spine. And I can’t remember what he said, the L to the elder.

I don’t know what it was, but he showed me on a number of places. He said, you’ll be in pain, the rest of your life. However, I’ll try to help you as best I can, but you’ll never get out of this. You’ll always be in pain. I went home and I got the book and I can’t remember how it got to me because it’s been so many years, but I got the book.

I started reading it and I started doing some of the work. He says he really suggest to us, literally scream at your pain, try to stop yourself. And it sounds crazy, but it really works. And then do some meditation and did some meditation work with myself. And after a while, I don’t know, a couple of days.

The pain stopped and I haven’t had that pain since

Lowell: Fred story isn’t quite done yet. We’ll hear more from him later.

Dr. Sarno believed that chronic back neck and limb pain that couldn’t be treated by standard medicine was caused by stress. He coined the term tension myositis syndrome or TMS for short.

He also included gastrointestinal and dermatological issues at it, but the primary symptom was back pain. His work was rejected at the time. And he was mocked by his peers. In fact, it still isn’t accepted by mainstream medicine. However, some people say he changed their life and not just a few crazy people, a lot of very same people.

Dr. Sarno has passed, but his work is not. Dr. David Hanscom is a former orthopedic surgeon. Who’s treated thousands of patients during his 32 year career. He quit his practice after realizing how critical this work is. He recently released a book titled, do you really need spine surgery? Take control with the surgeon’s advice?

Dr Hanscom: My name is David Hanscom. I’m an orthopedic spine surgeon and I practice complex spine surgery for over 30 years in Seattle, Washington, eventually learned through a lot of experience that spine surety doesn’t always work that way. In fact, I’m one of those churches who was one of the more aggressive churches in the country for about eight years on a, him out of my spine fellowship.

Seattle had nine times rate of spine surgery per capita has any place in the country. And that was part of that jargon that we just thought we had things really figured out. And I would actually feel badly if I did find a reason to do spine surgery, I eventually found out after years at my practice that the success rate for a spine fusion for back pain was about 22%.

And I just instantly stopped. I did not know what to do, but I knew I wasn’t going to keep doing that. So I went into chronic pain myself for about 15 years and slowly learned ways to solve chronic pain that do not include surgery. Occasionally include surgery, but it’s been quite a journey and about choose the question, quit my practice of spine surgery.

He asked me to pursue this project full time.

Lowell: What exactly is a fusion.

Dr Hanscom:  SO a fusion is basically welding together bones. For instance, if you have an ankle fusion, you take the joint, you destroy it, roughen it up. Then over time, the body turns it into a solid piece of bone. Same thing with vertebrae is that you put in screws in place to hold it still. And then you place bone graft across that segment. Then what happens the metal is just temporary until the bone graft heals. So it’s the bone that keeps a fusion solid. What you’re doing is you’re eliminating motion between vertebrae. And the idea is that the disc is the source of the pain.

Then by doing a fusion, you’ll actually get rid of the pain. What’s ironic. And I can hardly say this without getting upset. Is that we do not know where back pain comes from most of the time. But what we do know has been well-documented that disc degeneration is not a cause of pain. It is the most common reason we do surgery for back pain.

Lowell: What types of situations do need surgery?

Dr Hanscom: For instance, there’s decompression surgery where you have a pinched nerve. And for instance, if you have sciatica or a pain down your arm and that particular nerve is being pinched. When you take the pressure off of that nerve, the results are almost a hundred percent and sometimes when you don’t do the surgery it’s almost impossible to solve it without surgery. As far as a fusion for back pain, it’s an operation that should never be done, period, should not be done. And I actually equate it to doing frontal lobotomies. There’s no data for it. There’s not one research paper in 60 years that says doing a fusion for back pain makes any sense, particularly, it’s just the reason we’re doing that fusion.

The degenerated disc bone spurs arthritis have been well-documented and not be the source of pain. So for back pain, neck pain, there’s tumors and infections and fractures that need to be stabilized. Remember a fusion takes an unstable segment and stabilizes it. So there are times to do it, but that probably happens less than 5% of the time.

The bottom line is spine surgery for it to be effective you have to clearly identify the problem before you can fix it. With back pain you don’t know where the pain is coming from, and we did the surgery anyway. And again, the data is just dismal. As far as the success of a back fusion for back pain.

Lowell: So your argument is that it has to be as something that you can see structurally. And then that structural has to also match up with the patient’s symptoms they’re feeling.

Dr Hanscom: Correct. And it’s not that hard. If you go to a dentist with a painful tooth, you see the cavity and fix it, it works pretty well. But what if you go to the dentist, which is mouth pain and you cannot identify which tooth it is, maybe it’s the gums.

Maybe it’s the sinuses who knows what it could be. You start doing random procedures. How’s that going to work? And same thing. You take a car to the shop and listen, the mechanic makes an accurate diagnosis as to what their problem is. It starts doing random interventions. It doesn’t work. It’s the same thing with spine Insurity, there’s some sort of I’ll use the word urban legend that if all else has failed, this do surgery.

If all offices fail for surgical problem, then do the surgery. Many articulations by the way, are solved without surgery, but at least very surgical lesion that you can see surgery is an option. Most spine surgery that fails is done on situations that you can’t even see the problem.

Lowell: What percentage of people have no structural like things that you can see on an MRI scan.

Dr Hanscom: It’s just an estimate. I just say the vast majority is fine. Tradition not be done. And again, it was back pain is less than 5%. You can actually see the problem. So 95% of back pain is coming from muscles, tendons, ligaments, who knows where it’s coming from, but it’s not coming from something that you can see yet.

We’re really close, actually, upwards of $20 billion a year, doing spine surgeries on normally agent spine.

Lowell: Okay. One of the things I saw that you said is that the last five years of neuroscience research has been like we’ve made a lot of steps forward. Can you explain what some of that has taught us?

Dr Hanscom: Let’s go back to my medical school days, which I wish they had actually taught me this back then. So everybody knows what Phantom limb pain is, right? Where he lives an arm, or because of trauma or infection or diabetes. And before you lose the arm or the leg. But when you do the amputation over half, the patients don’t feel the same pain they had before the surgery.

In other words, the brain memorized the pain. So the limit is gone. Why would the pain still be there? And I remember being a medical student vulnerable less interesting, but no one ever explained to me what was going on. It turns out that was chronic pain that can occur in any part of the. It can be with headaches, stomach pain, back pain, neck pain, any pain in the body can be memorized because what you’re doing, you’re firing these unpleasant impulses to your nervous system, but they’re coming in so quickly that they get memorized within about three to six months.

So indeed what happens with back pain? For instance, they’ve done a very nice study in 2014 that showed if you take a feedback pain that becomes chronic. That it switches from the pain center in the brain to the emotional center. She has the same pain, but a different driver and it’s now memorized. So it doesn’t matter what you do.

Like for instance, via Phantom leg pain, you can’t do more surgery in a lug. This now. So we do, we program your brain. You can retrain your brain to go to parts of the brain that don’t have pain. For instance, Phantom limb pain, which is something I did not think was solvable is actually quite solvable with the concepts that neuroscientist showed us the last five years.

So Phantom limb pain. We see disappear, not just to live with it. It actually disappears.

Lowell: All right, let’s take a quick break. Welcome back to prodigy for more info on my dog, or to find any links mentioned in this episode, visit prodigy Let’s jump to what the cause of that pain

Dr Hanscom: is. So what we’re finding out that mental pain is actually a bigger problem than physical pain, because what happens is that.

Your brain process is negative thoughts and unpleasant emotions, the same way they process a physical threat, same part of the brain, same reaction. And what happens when you’re under threat of any kind mental or physical that your body’s, your creeds, adrenaline cortisol. All these different stress hormones, and then your body’s on fire hypervigilant, but it also stimulates the immune system.

So your brain actually becomes inflamed and sensitized. So the problem that humans have is that you can’t escape your thoughts. So these pathways get laid down. So the mental pain, I think that chronic pain is a disease of human consciousness that the pathways get laid down really on it. It was even more of a problem than expressed thoughts and emotions is repressed thoughts and emotions.

And that’s what got me in deep trouble personally, is that I’m a major spine surgeon, which joke is my wife, but I’m not that much of a joke is that, normal people don’t become spine surgeons is not a normal way to live. So I was just an incredible master suppressing stress, just stuffed it. What was he supposed to do is tremendous stress is you’re on a tight rope all day long, every day for years.

And so I just stuffed it. But at age 37, I went from being a fearless surgeons to crippling anxiety. One day I had a panic attack. I thought anxiety was psychological. I actually went into counseling to try to solve it. It turns out anxiety is the result of the threat, not the. So I think anxiety in terms of a psychological issue, we try to fish it and solve it.

But if you think about it, how long would any of us survive without anxiety? Not very long. You wouldn’t breathe. You ate, you’d walk out into the street. So anxiety is this mechanism. That is how we evolved, how we survived. So it’s a gift, but the key to this whole process of what is called the doc journey, direct your own character.

Is that you understand that anxiety is what you have. It’s not who you are in the unconscious brain. The survival response processes about 20 million bits of information per second, 20 million, the conscious brain processes, 44, 0 20 million versus 40. So you can’t do mind over matter, which I did for a long time.

You can get away with it for awhile. What you have to do is simply separate your identity from this reaction. You realize this is a very powerful amoral survival response. And then you learn to what I call developing a working relationship with it. So it turns out when I offer patients surgery to get rid of the light pain or their arm pain versus dropping down their anxiety, they want to get rid of their anxiety almost to the person.

So even now I have arthritis in my hips and knees is actually more physical pain that I had back years ago, and I had the chronic pain, but with the chronic pain, I had the anxiety. I also had 17 different symptoms. I had migraine headaches, stomach issues, back pain, neck pain, burning in my feet, skin rashes, there’s over 30 different symptoms that occur from your body chemistry being off.

So in is just a word that describes the state of being hyper alert, hypervigilant, and it describes the body’s chemistry, but it’s not a psychological issue.

Lowell: And this is related to the, is it pronounced V Vegas nerve?

Dr Hanscom: What I’m excited about is Dr. Stephen Porges, who now lives in Florida, but he worked out of Indiana for many years.

He wrote a book called the polyvagal theory. He has been researching was called the vagus nerve for over 40 years. And the vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve, which means it’s a nerve that originates directly off the brain. So below the brains was called the midbrain. There are 12 cranial nerves and the vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve.

Is those the autonomic nervous system. And the reason why it’s called autonomic because it’s automatically controls everything, controls your respiratory rate, sweating your stomach action, bladder action, blood pressure. All these things are controlled by the vagus nerve. So about 80% of us input from the body and about 20% of its output back to the bone.

So what happens is that when you’re under threat, your immune system is stimulated sheer sympathetic nervous system fires up. You have tremendous amount of inflammation to Vegas, or is parasympathetic, which is strongly anti-inflammatory. So there’s a bunch of. Interventions, you can do that directly stimulate the vagus nerve, which is very powerful as far as anti-inflammatory effect.

So it turns out that chronic pain, anxiety, depression, bipolar are all inflammatory disorders.

Lowell: I wanted to ask, I guess you developed a treatment that you, learned through your own experience. Can you go into a little bit about what that is?

Dr Hanscom: Awareness is the first step. The second step is. Chronic pain is complicated.

It’s affected by sleep stress, exercise, medications, life, outlook, all these things affect pain and what we’re doing in medicine, we’re throwing random, simplistic solutions at a complex problem. It can’t work and guess what? It doesn’t work. Each person a different set of variables. So the second pattern.

Is that you have to treat every aspect of it simultaneously, which sounds daunting, but actually not. So once you understand the three to five variables that are affecting you and each one is addressed, simultaneously things start to add up. So for instance, sleep is a big deal. So you could add 20% anxiety.

Frustration is a big deal because your nervous system is fired up another 20 or 30. Chiropractic do another 10, 15%. So it’s an additive process. And the third step is the patient has to take control. In other words, the only person that can really solve the problem for you, it’s going to be you. She would take the knowledge, the variables, you take your particular take on it, and then you’ll find your own solution.

So it’s a very much a self-directed process. You don’t eat pain clinics. There’s just a bunch of ways to calm your nervous system response down or neurochemistry down to help everything resolved. And the pain really does go away.

Lowell: That’s great. I love when I hear it’s not a single simple answer because to me that’s like always the indicator that it’s bull crap.

Let’s say you’re in a situation where, you have a stressful job and there’s just, it’s not like you can avoid it. What would you do to train your thinking so that you can reduce that anxiety?

Dr Hanscom: That’s a great question because first of all, stress kills people, you know that, right? I’m just spending well-documented in hundreds of research papers that chronic stress kills people.

But when people forget to talk about stress management, that this stress is actually damaged into your body’s distress, that you can. So it’s the chronic stress is actually the most damaging. And your body fires up, you calm down and move on with chronic stress day after day, whether it’s finances or a spouse or a job whatever’s going on, your body’s exposed to sustained elevated levels of inflammatory markers.

The biggest stress, by the way, are your thoughts? People cannot escape their human consciousness or thoughts, or even a bigger stressor than the circumstances. So the solution principle, there’s lots of details, but I’ll just try to give an overview. Is that stress isn’t the problem is your chemical reaction to it.

You have a stressor or whatever it is, avoiding stress factors, impossible. And again, the stresses that are most damaging and the ones that you can not control. So what you’re doing, there’s two things you. Instead of being stressed, automatic survival responses, what we’re supposed to do. That’s what we’re automatically programmed to do is go into a survival reaction.

So any threat is met with this survivor reaction. The key issue is called neuro-plasticity. You’re actually stimulating your brain to change in a different direction. And the new set of circuits in your brain does not have the same pain pathways. They do not have the same reactivity. So it basically, it was neuro-plasticity.

You have these. Then you create some space and then you redirect. If you’re just trying to redirect a fight, the impulses, you’re not gonna win. Remember the mind over matter doesn’t work. So we start the process with a very effective tool. Interesting, incredibly simple, and actually broke me out of 15 years of chronic pain is called a stress, right?

And there’s over a thousand research papers that documents that it works, and it’s not the solution, but it is a starting point where you write your thoughts down on paper to be anything positive or negative, and you instantly tear them up and you can’t trial your thoughts, which you can separate from them.

So your thoughts are on the table. You have a space between you and the thoughts that’s now connected with vision and feel, which are part of the unconscious brain. So from a neuroplasticity standpoint, the first step of solving chronic pain is called expressive writing. So what that does accomplish is awareness is separation in one step, and then the reprogram, it could be just take a deep breath, drop your shoulders, and then go back to the Vegas nerve for a second.

So for instance, slow breathing is anti-inflammatory. So you do the expressor writing the new, some slow breathing of less than 10 breaths. It’s anti-inflammatory or you can do some mindfulness work. We just place your attention on taste or smell or feel again, you’ve redirected. So instead of fighting, for instance, unpleasant thoughts, you’ll be re redirect your intention, not to distract yourself.

Remember you have to feel the pain first before you can redirect. And that is one of the hardest parts of the project is that if you’re just doing these tools to avoid feeling pain, that’s not going to work. So you have to allow yourself to feel the pain and then redirect. People don’t want to feel the pain.

It’s a learned skill. In other words, it’s not about just diving into the pain and being macho, being tough. That’s actually very counterproductive, but there’s a word we use called pendulation, which means you back and forth. And you do and deal with the pain as you can tolerate it.

And some days you’re better than others. One of the first things I tell people in general, just give yourself a break. You’re in chronic pain, you should be angry. You should be frustrated your anger in your freshman. It’s not going to disappear tomorrow, but people get harder themselves. And so critical.

They’re really frustrated. They’re blaming the person who heard them, all those things, fire up the nurses from where the essence of the solution is learning how to calm down in neurosystem. So the essence of the problem is ongoing exposure to a threat, mental or physical with mental being the bigger problem.

And the essence of a solution is finding safety, which means you’ve learned the tools to control your body’s neurochemistry. And then once you have those tools to change your body’s neurochemistry, you’re free.

Lowell: All right, let’s take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Welcome back to prodigy for more info on my dog or to find any links mentioned in this episode, visit prodigy

Dr Hanscom: Your neurochemistry really does change during induction slows down. The inflammation in your brain drops down dramatically. Your organs function better. Your metabolism speeds. And pain actually disappears. It’s shocking. I’m a surgeon and I will tell you historically, I’ve been one of those people that when I saw somebody walked in my office with chronic pain, I just roll my eyes and go whatever, because there’s a really horrible diagnosis going on right now, which I’m really upset about now.

And you would not have been this way 20 years ago, but it was called medically unexplained symptoms. Have you heard this diagnosis at all? No, but

Lowell: I’m familiar with people like having that site type of thing. So

Dr Hanscom: the stuff we’re talking about has been in the medical literature for at least 30 years. This is not new news.

I’m not discovering new inventions. I’m not discovering new knowledge. I’m uncovering stuff that’s started there, but for some reason has not made it into the mainstream medical thinking. So this has been around for a long time. There’s a body’s response to threat. Are we after this unpleasant that forces you to survive?

So again, the tools like acupuncture. Medical hypnosis, EMDR, all their trepidation, I thought was just crazy. I’m a surgeon, right? So what you’re actually doing is directly stimulating the vagus nerve Francis HMI. She relates the seventh cranial nerve, which is extra the vagus nerve. And just hugging actually is anti-inflammatory.

Are these referred to

Lowell: as some like sematic tools?

Dr Hanscom: Yes. Okay. So when use the word medically unexplained symptoms is really upsetting to me because everything. Your glucose is up. Your cortisol is up your heart rates going. Your inflammatory markers are through the ceiling. The inflammatory markers we’ve called

These interleukins are Sonics hundred through the ceiling. Your body. Everything is wrong. So the symptoms are completely explained by changes in the body, physio body’s physiology. At the end, it’s been well-documented that the anatomy has little, if anything, to do with pain. So that the fact that the medical profession has now come up with this new term called medically unexplained symptoms.

To me, if you’re a patient, of course, how to think you feel, you’re really just saying we don’t know what’s going on. You don’t have to live with it as imply that, something that you’re just not, you’re not that strong. You’re not that. The impact of chronic pain has been documented in several research papers that have the same impact on a person’s life is having terminal cancer.

In my argument, it actually, one of the papers does say, this is, that is actually worse because with Truro can’t, you know what the diagnosis is, right? And there’s an end point, good or bad with chronic pain, you have all the answers. Nobody tells you the diagnosis, you get bounced around. There’s no hope of an end point and people in chronic pain are absolutely miserable.

And that’s why I came up with this term that I think you already called the abyss here. This dark hole. There’s no bottle. There’s no way out. What do you do? It’s a horrible place to live. And I was in that bitch for at least 15. My understanding

Lowell: is because we don’t really understand the brain, all that well, but you’re saying that you can take a look at these patients and see their like elevated stress level.

Dr Hanscom: We do know that the autonomic nervous system is the grand central station directing the traffic. We know that in the periphery that if you have an injured your toe, because since blue now your nurses, it was actually an extension of your toe didn’t it did not develop the other way around. In other words, you have one cell bacteria, they became two cell force or whatever.

Eventually these organisms became so big. They had to develop a nerve system to interpret the data. So we have it backwards. We need to brain develop first. It did not. It’s actually the one. Organisms develop first in a work in that direction. So it’s your nervous system is connecting to the body, that dog that directs the traffic.

And so that’s why I don’t use the word mind, body syndrome anymore, or Cypress, because it’s just a unit. You can’t sense pain. Your body can’t function without a nervous system and vice versa. So it’s just a unit response to the environment and we try to treat it psychologically. It’s just one. And are

Lowell: these, the, these tools that you use for treating this at the source, are they something that you have to do ongoing?

Dr Hanscom: Because they become a way of life they’re instinctual. So I probably spend, I would say, okay. Just for 15 years, I’ve been, pain-free now for about 15 years after surfing for 15 years. So the things that are. It’s a learned skill and you get better with repetition, but I wish it was probably 10 minutes a day spent and actually thinking about it.

So this other two college professor, Brian should be write down my thoughts, tear him up. That’s about five or 10 minutes at the most, sometimes 30 seconds. What’s called active meditation rush. Simply place my attention on another sensation happens all day long, three to five seconds. One tool is not discussing your pain, no complaining.

That’s something you just don’t. So the key issue is awareness of when your body’s fired up versus not. Then you use these tools that you’ve learned in state really changed directions. And pretty soon, just like any athlete or artists that change the direction starts to become automatic. So yeah, it’s a matter of processing information differently.

Go back to your original situate question about, if you have a situation that you can’t avoid, what do you do? Again, you just automate them there to create that space and substitute. Then the structure of your brain physically changes.

Lowell: So it becomes more automatic. And do you ever, let’s say you have a really bad day or you forget to practice, use your tools.

Do you ever feel pain coming back a little, but all

Dr Hanscom: the time. Okay. So here’s the key is that you see people, it’s a bit of a story, but the bottom line is that life comes at us and. Like last weekend, didn’t sleep for a while for a night. And the next day, for instance, lack of sleep. One night of bad sleep has been shown to double people’s pain the next day.

And guess what? My hip and knee just glaring right up that I felt frustrated and anchor myself. So I tend to I went into this victim mode for me, and so I had three or four days over shorter books, but I do what to do. So I, last time I got pitch. I did a little fresher writing. I’m just dropping it down.

I’m enjoying talking to you. So yeah, people think that the goal is to be pain-free and Nirvana, and the goal becomes practicing the tools. You don’t stay in a hole for very long.

Lowell: So the day after I recorded that, but it was my dad. I got a phone call from my mom and I swear, I’m not making this up. My dad was having terrible back pain.

He could barely even walk. This all happened about four months ago. So while editing this episode and writing this voiceover, I gave him a call to follow up.

Fred: The pain was intense. You know what I mean? On a scale of one to 10, it was like a 10 almost made me in mobile. Couldn’t even drive home.

It was just a lot of pain and I don’t know why it was. And I suspect that maybe I was sitting on a chair. W I’ve been sweating a little bit and there was a cool breeze coming off the sliding glass door and he probably hit my back thinking that might’ve caused it. I don’t really know what caused it.

Lowell: What did you do? Cause you’re feeling better now, right?

Fred:  I did a bunch of relaxation things. I did some stretching. I did seven, eight physical therapy sessions. I was in a lot of pain. I watched a couple of videos that Sarno had put out, but really I couldn’t overcome it.

It was too much pain. I couldn’t think it away. Really. I couldn’t think, gee, this is something in my mind that I should, it should stop. It just wouldn’t happen.

Lowell:  Are you a hundred percent now? 

Fred: No. I’m not a hundred percent. I still feel some back pain every once in a while I felt something. But like today I did, when I had the back pain, the meditation and relaxation, and that really believe it or not, that helps

Lowell: Has your position changed at all since like you’ve experienced that pain that you couldn’t seemingly cure with purely mental stuff.

Fred: Yeah. Is it time to change? Because the first time I had it, twenty-five years ago, Once I read Sarno’s book and realized what it was, I said, this is it. Unresolved pain. And I kept trying to talk myself out of it and kind yelling at myself even to get myself back on and it stopped.

It went away in a few days. This thing didn’t go away in a few days, it took three weeks. And it was a lot of pain for three weeks. 

Lowell: I don’t know whether to think that the timing of my dad’s pain means that the mind-body connection is more or less meaningful.

Regardless. I think if you’re experiencing chronic pain or anxiety, it’s worth a shot, it clearly is helping some people.

Lowell: I have a thing, where I play computer game. And I use my pinkie to hit shift a lot and that’s like a repetitive motion. And so physical therapy gives me like stretches to do for that.

But that’s just a repetitive motion thing. So is that something that would show up on a, on an MRI scan?

Dr Hanscom: No necessarily writing about the human body in way before I, I knew much about chronic pain. Anything about chronic pain is 90% of all pain in the body doesn’t show up on any imaging tests that was you’d be have rotator cuff pain, maybe shows up an MRI scan.

And it probably doesn’t say through his back pain, neck pain, she gets these tissues that are irritated, but nothing will show up in an MRI scan or any imaging starting for that matter. But I will tell you that tendinitis is, are probably the most painful pains in the body.

Lowell: And I guess like anything I missed or main takeaway that you want people to get from it.

Dr Hanscom: I was trying to recommend, looking at my book back in control, the surgeon’s roadmap out of chronic pain gives you a nice foundation about what to do. And again, the three parts of getting better is awareness treating every aspect simultaneously, and then you taking control. And then there’s two choices.

One is called the doc where you can both do a sequence, has been successful. For many patients. We have watched hundreds of patients going to paint. And then also, if you’re were contemplating spine Sheree, I wrote a book called and what it does is it very detailed, informed consent that really I’ll clarify your decision-making in a way that you don’t make a bad decision.

You do not want to be a failed back surgery patient. You just do not want to do that. So it was all very self directed. It’s all very doable. None of it’s very hard to understand. I actually quit my share to go prior to this because I was watching so much damage being done by procedures that weren’t indicated.

And so it was just encouraging me that the problems that big, that I felt compelled to do this because I loved my practice, but I’m also very happy to watch may many people go to pain-free with really minimal resources.

Lowell: Great. Yeah, I definitely came in as a skeptic, but I feel convinced. So that was great. Thank you

Dr Hanscom: Yeah, you’re welcome. Always, don’t always have to answer more questions today. It is a paradigm shift.

Lowell: Dr. Hanscom has two books out. His first one is called back in control. And the second is, do you really need spine surgery? You can find more info at

Prodigy was created and produced by me, Lowell Brillante, the executive producer is Tyler Klang

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