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Is pain EVER from posture or structural reasons?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Pemberley, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    Assuming you don’t have any broken bones or cancer, would there ever be a structural reason for pain relating to posture/alignment?

    I’m in the midst of recovering from a severe back muscle spasm. I have been reading Dr. Sarno’s books and doing this program for many years now, and I have understood that flat feet/fallen arches, pronated feet, sitting in any type of chair, ways you bend/lift, etc. does not cause pain. But after this spasm, I have several well-meaning relatives who are trying to convince me to think structurally again…

    I’m also reading “Effortless Pain Relief” by Ingrid Bacci. She healed herself many years ago from what would have been called fibromyalgia today. Half of the book purely aligns with Dr. Sarno – she discusses repressed emotions and how they can manifest in physical pain. However, she also became a craniosacral therapist and a practitioner of the Alexander Technique, and the other half of the book is on these concepts. She says that it’s not about sitting or moving the “right” way – it’s about finding the right way for you. For example, she noticed that when she was stressed out and coming home from work on the subway, her back would be hurting. She also noticed that she was standing there and locking her knees. Once she noticed this connection, she would recognize that stress was causing her to lock her knees, and then she would soften her knees and it would reduce the tension in her back. Also, when she was talking with her mother and angry about their interaction, she noticed that her neck was tensing. So she took that as a cue that when her neck was tensing, she could consciously loosen the tension in her neck and figure out a better way to deal with her mother.

    She also states something critical about Dr. Sarno’s work, and I wonder if anyone here has thoughts about it. On page 181, she is discussing specific cases of repressed emotions held in the body:

    “Marilyn’s story and my own demonstrate the types of situations in which Dr. Sarno’s purely psychological approach to back pain, valuable as it is, may not work. When a person has strong conflicts over establishing boundaries, it may not be enough to suggest that repressed feelings – in particular, repressed anger – are the reason for his or her chronic pain. Those feelings may be too deeply buried. In such cases, bodywork such as craniosacral therapy, which engages the emotional subconscious through the tissues, can prove invaluable. A person may also need to vent emotions repeatedly, so that he or she can get a clearer sense of the legitimacy of his or her own feelings and of his or her ability to take control over his or her own life.”

    The text in bold above is mine. I have experienced something like this myself, many years before I had heard about TMS. A PT was working on my leg/hip area for back pain, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of sadness. Another time, she was working on the same area of the body, and I started crying but without feeling sad.

    What’s interesting to me is that Bacci has taken the emotional work and mixed it with the physical – with the body as the expression of the subconscious mind. She’s basically saying, if you have pain in your back, it’s most likely from another area of your body that you’re tensing because of emotional stress and it’s throwing off your alignment. Notice how stress does this, think about ways you can reduce your stress (changing your situation in life, your perspective about the matter, feeling your emotions, etc.), and then recognize how you’re holding certain parts of your body in tension and how it’s throwing off your body’s natural ease of movement.

    Is this total quackery? Anyone get back to moving better and less pain by using Dr. Sarno’s techniques AND advice like this?
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle


    Okay, first, I want to point out that I am not a "Sarno purist" by any stretch of the imagination, as much as I give Dr. Sarno 100% of the credit in saving my life back in 2011. But I have stretched my acceptance of mindbody knowledge and techniques far beyond what Dr. Sarno taught us, and I know that there are plenty of resources still out there, and more still to be discovered/created/learned. I'm pretty certain that Dr. Sarno himself didn't believe for a second that his theories were meant to be static and never-changing throughout eternity!

    I'm not going to get into most of the details in your post, because there is a lot, however my overall impression was "yeah, we're talking about the mindbody here, there's value here". The one specific I will mention is that I believe there is definitely some value to be found in the cranio-sacral approach, which is about learning to have a conversation with your body, and help it get back to equilibrium. I think. That's sort of what I got from being treated by a c-s doc for a while in 2010/2011, but I dropped him when I discovered Dr. Sarno that fall. I just discussed my experience in a response on another thread, here: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/hi-looking-for-advice.21259/#post-110427 (Hi, looking for advice)
    and what I might not have said well enough on that post is that learning to talk to a symptom, and changing your thoughts about it so that you can visualize a different response to the related stress, is an equally important component to doing this work.

    In other words, without continuing to see that doc, I took that one thing from him, and continue to use it to this day in my lifelong TMS journey.

    I say that if you find a mindbody-related technique that speaks to you in some way, why not use it along with your TMS knowledge and awareness? You'll undoubtedly have a different experience of that technique than someone without any TMS knowledge. You don't have to embrace the entire theory, just take what works, and what complements TMS. Why not? We're talking about the human brain here, which is both literally and figuratively "squishy".

    None of this is written in stone, it's not black & white, and there is NO ONE WAY to do this work!

    BTW, you prefaced this post by excluding cases of broken bones or cancer (eg, tangible physical illness or injury) but here's what I have to say about that:

    I don't care what kind of symptom, illness, or injury that you might have, you can proactively and positively use mindbody knowledge and techniques to recover faster and better and/or to suffer less and use fewer pain meds than someone who completely abrogates their treatment to the medical establishment.

    This is not just my opinion. It has been documented, many times over many decades, and it is a fact.
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  3. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    Thank you, JanAtheCPA! I really appreciate your thoughtful reply, and this makes so much sense to me. I particularly liked your comments on combining TMS knowledge/awareness with a mind-body technique that speaks with you; "taking what works" from that theory; and "learning to have a conversation with your body". And I especially appreciate your emphasis on using mind-body knowledge and techniques to recover faster and suffer less with ANY kind of symptom/illness/injury. This is so important.

    I feel encouraged to look into this some more. Not sure if this makes sense, but maybe what's been missing for me is the "body" aspect of "mind-body."
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    The definitive book on this, for me, is "When The Body Says No" by Gabor Mate, MD. He explains the physiology underlying the "stress-disease" connection. For a different look at the power of our minds to heal, I recommend "The Anatomy of Hope" by Jerome Groopman, MD. That one's a tough read if you have bad health anxiety, but like Dr Mate, he's a beautiful writer and a compassionate doctor.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
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