A funny thing happened to me last week. I threw out my back. For those of you who know me, it is almost laughable that this traditional medicine man of Mexican-Apache descent from South Texas, who is a martial arts expert, has a sudden onset of back pain for no apparent reason. Initially the pain “on a one to ten scale” was a 12. There was no heavy lifting involved. There was no yard work or mixed martial arts cage fighting involved. There were no other activities that involved my back that would lead me to conclude of one factor that precipitated a back injury. All I could think of at first was “why me?” and “why now?” As I start this road to recovery, it reminds me once again that I am only human. Which is too bad…unfortunately.
The emperor is not as forgiving…yes yes I know this.
Have you ever had pain you seem to revisit ever so often? Have you ever had low back pain? Do you want to know some helpful hints on your road to recovery? If so, Please read on…
Having Pain Sucks
Whether it be an injury you suffered from a car accident, leaning over to get the load of laundry out of the washer, lifting little people who seem to be obsessed with the latest talking animal movie, or in my case you have no singular moment the onset of pain, I want to make one thing really clear. Having Pain is terrible. Having pain all the time is even worse.
You get the idea.
AS the week unfolded I did the right thing. I panicked. The problem with me is that I know just enough information about health, muscles, inflammation and nature of pain. After all, I am a “pain specialist.” (Which I now find ironic.) There are several things to keep in mind when you have pain. In your recovery process, everything which used to be “a nuisance” or “simple” all of sudden becomes a monumental feat in Olympic history, for example climbing stairs.
Yeah….that’s about right.
Things to keep in mind when you have pain:
 If you are a guy, acknowledge that you have pain and tell your loved ones you have pain. There are so many times I see where the male patient tells me “oh I am ok” and if their spouse/partner is with them in the treatment room, the better half usually chimes in with a litany of qualifications and examples where that statement, as a general rule , is patently false.
 Go see your acupuncturist. Acupuncture is the #1 method for lasting relief from pain. If your acupuncturist is not a pain specialist, ask he or she for an acupuncture referral on “who is really good at taking care of pain.” The general consensus in the scientific community that specializes in pain research notes that acupuncture, even bad acupuncture is still better than standard western medical care.
 Go see your primary care physician. They need to know about this. If it is a matter that warrants attention, they will refer you for an X-ray. If it is a chronic problem they typically will send you for a referral to a specialist of some kind, (orthopedic surgeon, neurologist, etc.).
 Take time off. Rest your back. For myself, this is the hardest thing to do. There is always so much to do and I tend to go stir crazy if I am not working on a project. However, this past week, my back ruled the day an I ended up resting off my feet. I am still in awe at the wonder of what rest can do for the human body.
 The usual suspects: Go see your shiatsu practitioner. Do Epsom salt baths. Use caster oil topically with a heating pad. Ice. All of these things should be standard of care when it comes to pain.
 Pain medication. The phobia of opioid abuse is in full sway. The pendulum has swung to the area where people who use pharmaceuticals to reduce their pain become pariahs. They are seen as suspect as well as people who are expressing criminal behavior. In the mainstream media, we read the hyperbole of opioid abuse and deaths per year. The fact of the matter is that pain is a real problem. It is a real puzzle. It is unpleasant at times and can develop other factors that downgrade your quality of life. Western medicine does not have the answer to the pain puzzle. No medicine does. And of course there are the side effects.
This is not a hallucination.
My colleagues and collaborators in the scientific community are hard at work in trying to solve the pain problem. We know it is multilevel and multifactorial challenge. The scientists who specialize in the pain field know that this is an uphill battle. They understand, even at the level of the molecule, pain is an enigma in medicine and in science. The real healers know this. Anyone who says they have the magic bullet has not seen enough patients in pain. Pain has a full spectrum of types of pain: physical, mental, emotional or spiritual pain.
The Spirit of Pain
Acknowledgement is the first step in your journey of recovery from pain. The notion that our biology is our biography is key when we develop pain. Where does it hurt? How does it hurt? What are the triggers? What happens when people ignore their pain? How long does this last? What does pain look like from a spiritual standpoint? How do the mind and body work in synchronicity? These are not just questions for the scientists that study pain, it is a question for all of us who have had pain or no someone who has pain.
Even within the construct of Chinese metaphysics, there is a component on the examination of pain. This notion is still an emerging medicine in the 21st century. While further study is necessary, the potential of our fate has ramifications on the notion of pain. Fate is the convergence of a set of possibilities into one potential outcome. Find your healer within, and find yourself.
Oh China! No back pain today.