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Dr. Hanscom's Blog “Un-screwed”–Yoga Healing Back Pain

Discussion in 'Mindbody Blogs (was Practitioner's Corner)' started by Back In Control Blog, Jan 27, 2020.

  1. Back In Control Blog

    Back In Control Blog Well known member

    This is a piece submitted by a reader, who has done well. It illustrates several aspects of the healing journey. The structure presented by the DOC process is a framework that organizes your thinking so you are able to discover your own solution. Everyone is unique and finds his or her own set of strategies. Here are some points to consider:

    • Surgery works well if there is an identifiable structural problem. This situation was present here in the form of tibial malalignment creating tracking problems with the patella. Re-aligning the joint is helpful. The reason I wrote my book, Do You Really Need Spine Surgery? Take Control with a Surgeon’s Advice was not to dismiss surgery, but only to have it done when the problem is clearly identifiable.
    • It is interesting that the diagnosis of spondylolisthesis is mentioned. It is a surgical problem only if there are pinched nerves causing leg pain. Then you almost have to undergo surgery. Back pain is vague and is not a structural problem. Fusing a stable spondylolisthesis for back pain is not indicated. Indeed, the pain was resolved with a regular yoga practice and surgery may never be required.
    • This reader took control. That is the one most important step.
    • Finally, the mindset of being connected to only what is present is a major part of healing. Very nicely said.

    The letter

    I have a story to tell, and this surgical screw sums it up very nicely. It represents a turning point in my life. Some of my bones are a bit defective in shape, enough to cause problems after decades of wear and tear. Bear with me, I’ll get to the part that yoga has played in a bit…

    This screw held my shin together for several months after a surgery to realign my kneecap by surgically fracturing my tibia and putting it back together at a different angle. That was only one of my multiple orthopedic surgeries on both feet, both knees, and both shoulders.

    I went from pre-surgery not being able to carry a laundry basket down a flight of stairs, to post-surgery backpacking the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. Now I average several hundred miles a year of hiking, backpacking, and snow-shoeing, something I could only dream about before.


    Several years ago I also found out I have a spine defect (spondylolisthesis and pars fractures) that will eventually need a lumbar fusion as it progresses. I sometimes can’t feel my right foot and my low back feels less-than wonderful. I had started practicing yoga inconsistently before that diagnosis, but when I realized how incredible yoga has been for managing my low back pain (I don’t even take Advil or Tylenol), I dove into yoga head-first and never looked back.

    That led to me to a regular yoga practice, then 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) and recently 300-hour YTT. I went from dabbling in yoga because it was kinda “fun” to becoming a yoga teacher with several classes a week. It has changed my life.


    I can’t imagine where I would be right now without having gone through what I have gone through. Just like that screw and what it represents. Rehab was not very pleasant, but I came out so much stronger and happier on the other side of it.

    Moving forward

    Sometimes life throws curve balls at you, some good, some bad. It’s easy to let your mind go into the “Why me?” or “It’s not fair!” mindset. I spent years in that dark place. Decades. It’s not a good place to be, either for yourself or for those who love you.

    Mindset – Yoga has taught me to always try to find the positive in things, no matter how bad they might look on the outside. To see the blessings even when things look daunting. To know that it’s OK to take time to take care of myself, because that makes me better able to take care of others. To be completely content with where I am RIGHT NOW regardless of hurdles I’ve been through or what might be coming in the future. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that sometimes you have to go thru a bit of hell to come out oh-so-much-better on the other side. Smile. Get on your yoga mat and smile.

    Final thoughts

    This story is a wonderful illustration of moving forward, regardless of the obstacles. The rehab is a critical factor but life outlook is equally important. Your brain will develop wherever you place your attention and is physically altered through neuroplasticity.

    Related posts:

    1. Four Steps in the Evolution of Chronic Pain
    2. A – Structural Sources of Pain
    3. The Catastrophe Index

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