Hurt Back at Work? What to Make of the Ideas of Dr. John Sarno

Dr. John Sarno: Reflections on Chronic Workplace-Related Back Injuries

An influential, yet controversial figure, Dr. John Sarno hypothesized a psychosomatic condition known as tension myositis syndrome. Also referred to as tension myoneural syndrome (TMS), the condition characterizes a variety of nerve issues that lack an obvious physical trigger, including, most notably, chronic back pain. His research provides an alternate perspective for those suffering chronic pain months, even years after a workplace injury.

Is Back Pain Physical or Mental?

In “Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection,” Dr. Sarno claims that pain not relieved by typical medical treatments can be blamed on repressed emotional problems. He doesn’t suggest the pain is inside your head; he argues that it’s real and it results from an intense battle within your mind. It’s a controversial theory, but his allegedly successful treatment of over ten thousand patients indicates that psychosomatic issues may indeed play a role in ongoing back pain.

The Link Between TMS and Workplace Injuries

Your workplace accident may be to blame for initial back pain, but per the TMS hypothesis, post-traumatic issues could be at fault for at least some ongoing symptoms; Dr. Sarno believes psychological struggles can manifest as physical pain. He argues that your pain will continue until you unearth and deal with repressed emotions.

Blogger Paul Ingraham offers a more in depth review of Dr. Sarno’s work in this series of posts. This obituary in the New York Times offers another valuable perspective. Notably, the Times writes: “Some of [Sarno’s] ideas, like his assertion that there is no correlation between chronic back pain and herniated discs, have been validated by research published in The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Healing the Body With the Mind

Irrespective of what you think about the TMS hypothesis, workplace victims can take the following away from Dr. John Sarno’s books: Mental attitude can have a huge impact on physical recovery. Although your current pain likely originated with a legitimate injury, it might now be treatable. If you have a clean bill of health but lingering pain several months after your accident, it may be time to explore what mental triggers could be impeding your success.

Regardless of the nature of your workplace injury, it is imperative that you seek counsel from a lawyer you trust. Look to the team at Smith, Wallis and Scott for exceptional representation. We’re available for a private, confidential consultation at (770) 214-2500.

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