Cynthia Barnett explores the idea of prayer for healing back pain.
It’s hard to be Good Men if you’re stressed. Stress affects virtually every part of our lives, both our mental and physical well being. Stressed-out good men might find themselves unable to respond well to their loved ones even when they want to. Plus, knowing that stress management is one of the things men are advised to take up for their health, good men may feel pressure to do that. More stress! The increased baggage from carrying around all this responsibility could weigh them down, bow them over, and even feel “back breaking.”
In fact, a lot of stress does show up in back problems, the most common of all medical complaints. Fortunately, new research is showing ways to address these problems and new perspectives on health can help.
But is there a sure cure? Hopefully there is. And it’s showing up in the increased willingness of physicians and patients to reframe how they view the cause of the problem and thus what they choose to treat it. Many are finding that solutions that consider the mental and spiritual nature of the problem are more effective.
Typically, medical experts on back pain prescribe everything from hot pads to surgery. But solutions are slippery and illusive because what helps one does nothing for another, and many treatments only help people “manage” the pain over time. There’s also a newly emerging factor: some physicians are now saying pain cannot be defined with merely objective criteria. Pain, they say, is subjective. And, if pain is subjective, solutions that focus only on the body aren’t likely to produce quick or permanent results.
After some frustration with traditional body-centric approaches, back pain expert Dr. John Sarno now focuses instead on psychological factors. He has learned that “back pain is often caused by… anger, fear, guilt, resentment, worry, and sadness.” This realization has allowed Dr. Sarno to help thousands of patients with chronic back pain, neck pain and similar disorders.
Other experts on back pain (or spine health) also admit there’s more to treatment than the medical. In fact, some have found that everyday experiences can release the endorphins or “good feelings messengers” that reduce pain. Fortunately for all of us, their list of desirables includes laughing and smiling, listening to your favorite music, being social, and—best of all—eating dark chocolate.
Yet, even with this increased understanding of the psychological factors that contribute to pain, key questions remain. If psychological factors can cause back pain, can banishing those factors end it? If so, how does one do that? And, if pleasurable experiences can reduce, but perhaps not cure the pain, is there any hope for full recovery?
Clinical studies don’t yet have answers to that. Yet personal experiences show the value of understanding the mental nature of pain. For example, some sufferers have found that going beyond the psychological to the spiritual helps them experience full release as they permanently rid their thinking of mental factors that cause pain.
Take my friend Jeff. He says that about ten years ago after he’d experienced back pain off and on for years he had a quick, full and permanent recovery one day when he took a wholly spiritual approach to treating the problem. He’d been turning to prayer that affirmed his innate spirituality for some time for health problems and seeing good results.
Here’s how he found relief from back pain:
“As I was dressing one morning, I felt a pain in my back. I recognized this as the onset of a condition that I had experienced in the past…—a condition which had impaired my activity and caused discomfort for days at a stretch. But this time I was well-prepared…” with a spiritual approach.
Jeff changed his thinking about his back. Instead of looking to bones, muscles and vertebrae, he looked to the spiritual concepts these useful elements represented in his body—support, flexibility and strength. He replaced a body-based foundation with a spirit-based foundation. And, that new foundation was readily available, as close as his thoughts.
Jeff began to think “…when a man builds a computer, he programs it with a set of instructions (laws) that determine how the machine operates. The computer has no choice but to function in accordance with those built-in rules.”
Then a verse from the ancient prophet Jeremiah came to him—a verse that he had come to cherish… “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts…” Jeff thought deeply about this timeless promise. It seemed perfectly relevant to him that day.
Jeff reasoned that… “The perfect, harmonious law of [divine good] was built into my being.” Jeff felt convinced by this new view. He added, “In just a few minutes, all traces of discomfort vanished, and I had full range of motion.” Jeff’s recovery has lasted until this day ten years later. “End of problem,” as he puts it.
Back pain may seem to be a vexing problem to treat. New insights into the mental nature of this problem plus openness to a spiritual approach can provide permanent relief.
Photo Credit: Glow Images