Thursday, March 13, 2008

New study: back pain largely mind-induced

In the Daily Mail, a British paper, an article about new research that claims that most back pain is not from actual physical injury. (Note that this is no news to TMS sufferers, or followers of Dr. John Sarno.)

The study was specifically looking at trends in health following the reunification of Germany in the early '90s.

Shortly after East and West Germany were reunited, statistics show that 84 percent of West Germans were affected by back pain, compared to 69 percent of East Germans. By 2003, the percentages has just about equalized.

What accounted for the rise in back pain among residents of the former East Germany? "Researchers blame increased exposure to media reports on how back pain could be a severely disabling condition," says the Daily Mail, and quoted the published study directly:

"After reunification, all those 'myths' and misconceptions about back pain being pervasive in Western societies immediately spread to East Germany."

The study claims that only about 15 percent of back pain is actually due to a structural problem of some kind.

The Daily Mail found not too much receptivity to this idea at home, however. "British experts said if back pain is all in the mind, this is only true in a very few cases."

And right here is exactly why so many people seem to reject out of hand the idea of mind-induced pain, because it's often said to be "all in the mind." Neither traditional doctors nor many patients want to be told this because the implication is that the pain is somehow imaginary.

So let's be clear here: when people talk about the mind creating pain, this does not mean the pain is "all in the mind." The pain is still very much in the body.

Personally, I don't see what's so hard to understand about this, but it seems to trip lots and lots of people up. They hear about how the mind may create pain and think that means someone's basically making it all up.

In the case of back pain this is completely not true. The pain is real, and really happening in your body. Mind-induced pain is real, physical pain. Just like mind-induced embarrassment can turn your actual cheeks actually red.

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