A polar bear in the headlights

Dear Doctors/Physios/Health professionals interested in pain,

Correct diagnosis is half the cure. As a young man who went from pillar to post seeking a remedy to unrelenting back pain that progressed into neck/foot/hip/knee pain/tension headache/benign arrhythmia/TMJ/ I have run the gauntlet of what medicine had to offer.

3 pain specialists, a Rheumatologist, 3 highly rated Physiotherapists, 3 chiroquackters(one a conman), and all offered their own take on my problem.  I had accepted I was damaged and resigned to a life of pain. I am naturally inclined to trust health professionals and didn’t really question what I had been told. At a low point I decided to really dig in and look at the current science of pain and if anyone knew what the hell I was suffering with. Reluctantly, I read a book that claimed to know the mechanism behind chronic pain and how to tackle it. It was written by a Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU, Dr John E. Sarno.

I believe this is the missing link that our current medical model is overlooking but it is catching up. It took me 8 months after buying the book to read it because I thought it was utter nonsense. This year the Royal Society of Medicine London hosted a conference on Pain principally based on the work of Dr John Sarno. The concept summed up is ”your body is creating pain/symptoms in order to distract your conscious mind from emotions that are too difficult to deal with”. Sounds properly nuts, eh?

”The body says what the mind cannot”

This is not applicable for everyone however and it should be noted the approach advocated is applicable only to those who have been thoroughly screened for disease/cancer. The grey area with this approach is the fact that many people can have abnormalities of the spine and experience no pain, but someone who has no ‘defects’ has pain.

Please check out the rest of the blog for more background and links which go into a lot more detail(this is a rushed post aimed at #Irishmed). This is just some advice if you have a patient(or are a sufferer) in care whom you think may benefit from this approach. I have zero medical authority and this is more for my own record of a ”how to”. Add this to the fact I had an idyllic childhood and never wanted for anything.

Give the patient an ACE questionnaire as childhood traumas strongly correlate with pain syndromes.

Use this check-list of 33 symptoms  known to be part of what is being termed ‘Mindbody syndrome’.

Making this type of diagnosis is fraught with difficulties, and given MBS is not yet recognised as a medical condition. If anyone wants further info please look on TMSwiki.org where Physicians who incorporate this approach into their practice contribute every so often.

It really is a last resort approach as not even opioid s could relieve the pain I was experiencing, strange as that may sound!

As this is not yet a recognised condition but the root cause of many current diagnoses(Fibromyalgia etc) there is no official term. Tension Myoneural Syndrome is the most popular but is also referred to as Psychogenic Pain Disorder or Mindbody Syndrome. I realise Doctors are bound by strict codes of ethics so this is aimed at being more informative and expanding the utterly depressing/defeatist narrative surrounding chronic pain and other idiopathic syndromes like CFS(personally have had some fatigue but nowhere near the scale someone with CFS experiences). It must be repeated this is not ”all in your head”, the body is physically in this state.

Please feel free to ask questions, this is possibly the most important thing I’ve learned in my life from a health perspective and there exists different interpretations of how to overcome the condition. I don’t expect any Doctor reading this to incorporate it into their practice but I would plead with anyone who has an interest in treating pain to really explore it. I have tonnes of material on the subject I can make available for your reference.



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