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Excerpted from Mind Over Back Pain by John Sarno, M.D. Copyright 1982 by John Sarno, M.D. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"Studies revealed that most patients with back pain (it turned out to be 88 percent) had a history of such things as tension or migraine headache, heartburn or stomach ulcer, colitis, spastic colon, allergies and a few less common disorders, all of which are related to tension."

Dr. John Sarno, Mind Over Back Pain, Part 2

I found the experience of treating back pain frustrating and depressing, for I could never predict the outcome. Furthermore, I became increasingly troubled by the fact that the pattern of the patient's pain and the findings on physical examination could rarely be satisfactorily explained by the presumed pathology. For example, pain might be attributed to degenerative arthritis of the joints of the last lumbar vertebra (spinal bone). But the patient often had pain in places that had nothing to do with this bone.

Gradually I began to doubt the accuracy of the conventional diagnoses and at the same time to realize that the pain appeared to be coming from something that was happening in the muscles of the neck, shoulder, or back. Throughout this transition period I continued to treat with physical therapy, with generally unsatisfactory results, though some patients did very well. I began to think, however, that the outcome had more to do with how patients related to me than the treatment I prescribed.

When it became obvious to me that the pain was coming from something going on in the muscles, another important piece was added to the puzzle. Studies revealed that most patients with back pain (it turned out to be 88 percent) had a history of such things as tension or migraine headache, heartburn or stomach ulcer, colitis, spastic colon, allergies and a few less common disorders, all of which are related to tension, so I concluded that this painful muscle condition might also be due to tension. When that theory was put to the test and patients were treated accordingly, there was an obvious improvement in the results of treatment. In fact, it was possible now to predict which patients would do well and which might not.

At that point the exact nature of the painful process in the muscles was still not clear, though muscles spasm was one of the elements. It was apparent that nervous tension initiated the process. But what kind of change did it produce in the muscle, and how did the nerves get involved?

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