Can I share my Struggle with chronic pain with you?

The irony about being a chiropractor is that in taking care of other people, you often don’t find adequate time yourself to visit the chiropractor. So from very early on in my experience with daily stabbing upper back pain, I was highly motivated to figure out how I could manage it myself.

At first I tried all the gadgets and home remedies that I could find - foam rollers, plastic canes to knead the knots in my upper back, massage balls, posture correcting devices and courses, exercise, stretching, creams and even my own two hands in the areas that I could reach. None of those thing even came close to helping me solve the issue.

By then it seemed as if I was always going to need an outside force to assist me with the pain. I visited multiple chiropractic colleagues, some who cracked my back, others who treated my soft tissue. I tried regular massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, ibuprofen and they all provided me with some relief in the short term, but failed to provide long-lasting sustainable results…

Short term relief was not what I was going for.

I will always remember the first time I realized that a patient’s pain was coming from His Job Related stressors.

He was a 30 year old physically fit person who complained of debilitating back pain. An interesting thing about his case was that there was nothing wrong with him structurally on MRI or X-ray. What was even more interesting to me was that he reported being able to go to the gym daily without pain and even spend long periods of time dancing at night in clubs, still without pain.

How was it that he could simultaneously have back pain during some parts of the day but not when he was physically exerting himself?

Not to mention, when I felt his muscle tissue, it was some of the most supple and healthy tissue I had ever felt.

Then one day he made an interesting remark in the office. He looked at me and said “Doc, I didn’t have any pain while I was on vacation, but as soon as I sat down for a meeting on Monday morning, my back started to hurt again.”

That was all I needed to hear. Here was a young man who had chronic nagging lower back pain and it seemed to only affect him while he was at his office. Initially it was easier to suspect that the problem was coming from sitting down at his desk, but if that were true, how come he didn’t have pain while sitting on the beach, the couch or in a plane?

It became apparent to him and I upon further questioning that he was truly unhappy with his job, and that the stress and tension coming from the pressures his boss put on him were causing his muscles to become tight and painful. However when we was not at work, he would relax and the pain would go away.

Over the course of a small handful of additional visits we talked through his mind’s ability to generate pain inside his body and got his pain to drastically decrease. All without using anymore hands on treatment. He gradually left my office happy knowing that he no longer needed my services. He was now free to be rid of the fear that something was “wrong” with his body.

He wrote me later saying that he ended up taking a new job and that the pain completely left him at that point.

One interesting thing that I had noticed was that the sharp stabbing pain in my upper back always got worse as the day went on. It would be most painful at the end of a working day, but then I would wake up and feel little to no pain in the morning. I would also feel completely fine on the weekends.

My chiropractic training had taught me that the pain I was experiencing had to be from a structural problem like a vertebrae that was “out of place” or a slipped disc. But I began to question the validity of that reasoning for a few reasons.

  1. If the pain were related to a vertebrae that was truly out of place, then how come a chiropractic visit wouldn’t solve it with one shot? Even more so, how come this supposed “out of line” vertebrae only seemed to affect me at the end of the day and only during the week?

  2. I applied similar reasoning to the idea of a slipped disc. If the disc was truly slipped, and truly causing the pain, and there was nothing I could do to put that disc back in place, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that the pain would also always be there? 

But it wasn’t always there. It would come and go.

The patients I was treating in the office would most often also describe pain that would come and go. Yet here I was telling them that it was a structural problem within their spine and/or muscles and that only hands-on treatment could fix it.

By that time I was beginning to see how these theories were no longer holding up in my own life and the lives of my patients. If there truly were structural problems that were actually present, then wouldn’t it make the most sense that the pain would also constantly be present until the problem was resolved?

And how come sometimes the same patients would report massive relief after one visit and then nearly zero relief after another visit where I performed the same outlined treatment plan in both visits.

At this point I Dove deep into learning about the mind-Body Connection.

I saw research proving that people could live pain free lives without even knowing they had arthritis or slipped discs or scoliosis and so on… Almost everything that I had learned in school was being uprooted by some valid research that proved otherwise. 

How could I continue to tell people that they had a problem in their spine, when I was finally looking at research that was showing those problems were not actually problems in the lives of many other people?

And how come some people could live pain free with arthritis or a slipped disc, but others could not?

We ARE putting the blame on the wrong source

and missing the bigger picture

As I studied the mind-body connection I learned the exact science behind how repetitive toxic thoughts and stress lead to chronic muscular tension. This chronic muscular tension would put constant pressure on the blood vessels and ultimately lead to a lack of oxygen in the part of the body where the tension was being held. Anytime you deprive an ligament, tendon, muscles, or organ for that matter, with oxygen, you will experience symptoms. The more severe the oxygen deprivation, the more severe the symptoms. 

This explained how sometimes the pain I felt in my upper back would feel like a hot knife was stabbing me directly in my bone and then other times only feel like a constant dull ache. 

This also began to explain why my patients too had pain that would come and go no matter what type of external therapies they tried. Let’s be honest, but the time most people reach out to a chiropractor, it’s because they have tried everything else and that has also failed, so they figure that they have nothing to loose at that point. Chiropractic isn’t exactly mainstream in the public’s eyes yet. 

This also made the most sense logically to me and helped explain why chronic pain is so rampant. Who in this day and age was not dealing with some form of psychological stress? Whether that be in the form of financial, relationship, family, or work stress. 

As I started to pay closer attention to my pain, I began to notice that at the time it was most severe, I was in an angry mood.

During that time in my life I was dealing with a frustrating individual who was not behaving as I thought they should be behaving and it drove me mad. The more I complained about that person out loud or in my head, the more angry I became, and the more my pain increased.

As I began to accept that the pain could be related to my emotional attitudes towards this person, or life in general, I began to seek out strategies that helped me release the anger. 

To my delight, the pain went away!

I could now work a full day physically treating clients without pain. Where I once used to think that I was hurting myself physically at my job, I now understood that it had nothing to do with the position of my body at work, and everything to do my mental and emotional state.

As more time went on and my understanding grew, I became less and less able to keep this information to myself.

You can imagine my conundrum as a chiropractor relying on reoccurring visits in order to pay the bills, but it just didn’t feel right to keep this information to myself any longer.

I had gone on to not only heal my daily stabbing upper back pain, but also chronic left shoulder pain, lower back pain, and numbness and tingling in my right foot. All things that I previously feared were related to structural problems in my bones and muscles were now no longer feared.

Armed with my new knowledge and enthusiasm I began to share this information with my clients.

Some were receptive. Some were not. 

Those who were not receptive began to look at me like I was crazy and wonder why I no longer wanted to treat their muscles or spines. How could I blame them? Most of them came to me expecting that they had a physical problem that only a physical solution could solve. Many became frustrated and ultimately left seeking physical care elsewhere.

However, I knew that if I continued to tell people that the problem was inside their body, that they would anchor into that belief and put more distance between their mind and how it affected their bodies. I had to speak up about this reality.

The patients who did sit and listen patiently began to utterly shock me. They would show up to their follow up visits literally glowing, eyes wide and bright, telling me how their pain felt as it had literally been lifted off of them since our last conversation. It was now not uncommon to sit down with a patient and talk them through this process and hear later that everything changed for them during ONE visit. As those stories and experiences began to pile up, I became more bold with this new mission.

Let’s face it. The current treatment for back pain is not working.

Eight out of ten Americans are suffering from chronic back pain and out of those eight, only one is finding any type of lasting relief. If our current standards of treatment (surgery, chiropractic, physical therapy, etc…) were actually working, then we would have solved the back pain epidemic A LONG time ago.

Unfortunately that is just not the case these days and people continue to needlessly suffer.

The good news is that we in the healthcare field are beginning to wake up. We are beginning to understand the mind-body connection and the role that stress plays in how our bodies feel. We are beginning to see that that health is not merely the absence of disease but rather a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. We are beginning to understand that instead of trying to defeat disease, we need to be cultivating health.

That’s what my online course is all about.

It is a journey through learning all the ins and outs about chronic pain and overcoming the pain by cultivating a state of health from the inside out.

It will take you through all of the steps needed to begin to build health in your own life so that chronic pain can no longer thrive. 

I have done it. My past and current clients are doing it, and now it’s your turn.

Contact me here to find out if my online course is right for you.