Western medicine’s approach to treating chronic back pain is now under scrutiny due to radical thinkers like John Sarno, a medical pioneer, nonconformist, and writer of the book “Mind Over Back Pain.” Once involved with a large group of doctors, he broke off from them upon recognizing that the medical model for treating back pain was falling short.

John came up with a scientific diagnosis called TMS, or Tension Myoneural Syndrome, which asserts something that many of us have already intuited: that there is a connection between our experiences of mind and body. Conventional medicine looks to treat the problem via the body alone, with complete disregard for the mental and emotional stressors in the client’s life. Sarno was a critic of these traditional treatment methods, which include rest, exercise, physical therapy, and/or surgery. Sarno’s theory is, in part, that the pain exists to distract from repressed emotional material. Moreover, when clients understand the symptoms as serving no other purpose, these symptoms dissolve on their own.

This is something we see in the Kiloby Inquiries: that by allowing repressed mental and emotional material to arise and become conscious, the connected sensations tend to dissolve. The pain often points to an unresolved issue and acts as an entryway for us to access the associated thoughts and emotions. Then, when this material becomes conscious, the pain can be cleared. This phenomenon, which I and many others who have done KI have experienced first-hand, corroborates Sarno’s theory.

Now, I’m not trying to be overly extreme here. In my journey with back pain, I’ve learned that Western medicine did get some things right. For example, when I was in acute pain, I needed to use painkillers, which I’d resist because they were once my drug of choice. This resistance caused problems, leaving me in incapacitating pain.

Through a process of inquiry, which sometimes involved doing KI with the pill in front of me, I was eventually able to use painkillers as prescribed. The painkillers allowed me to get through the most intense moments of my journey. The key for me, though, has been switching to less harmful alternatives once the intensely painful periods subside, such as moving from painkillers to Xanax, then from Xanax to gabapentin. The ability to substitute has allowed me to lean on painkillers when needed without developing a dependence.

As far as treatments and surgeries go, there’s a growing debate that they’re mostly ineffective at treating chronic back pain, and medicines can help short-term but aren’t a sustainable or lasting solution. I’m not looking to make a definitive, sweeping statement on the efficacy of treatments and surgeries for back pain—I’m not a doctor, and everyone is different. However, I will say that integrating deep spiritual or therapeutic practices are a low-risk, high-reward way to tackle these chronic pain issues. Also, bear in mind that there is no magic pill and that diet, exercise, and other movement modalities (e.g., yoga or chi gong) can also be part of the picture.

I’ve found the Kiloby Inquiries to be vital in helping me reduce the suffering around my back pain. Relying heavily on certain KI tools, I was able to address the early childhood developmental trauma, ancestral trauma, and collective trauma at the root of my pain and clear it. Now, the excruciating pain that routinely reached an 8, 9, or 10 on my pain scale and caused ER visits has reduced to a simple sensation in my spine. Ultimately, I’m hoping to advance the conversation around treating pain, especially chronic back pain. By integrating John Sarno’s work with KI, a balanced lifestyle, and the humility to medicate when necessary, we can do wonders for reducing and eliminating chronic pain. Want to work one-on-one with Scott Kiloby on chronic pain? Click here!

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