Back pain fear is one of the most limiting emotional consequences of chronic suffering. The agony of acute back pain can leave an indelible impression on the soul of the patient. This feeling often goes beyond normal fear or apprehension. In fact, the patient can experience dread or terror at the mere thought of another serious attack of pain. Often this fear is related to particular or general strenuous activities and can be called physicophobia. Many patients experience related fears due to perceived threats that the pain might cause them in the future. Fear of disability, fear of being unable to provide for one’s family and fear of the unknown are all virtually universal concerns for those stricken with chronic pain. I mirror many of these emotions in my own terrible back pain story and fully empathize with the anxieties you feel every day.
This vital discussion explains why it is important to overcome fear in order to break the pain cycle.
Acute back pain is difficult for people to understand unless they experience it themselves. You can read my own chilling chronic lumbar back pain story to get some idea. The majority of people have suffered some pain in their backs, yet that pain is not representative of the severity of agony suffered by some patients every day. There are few things more terrifying in life than acute lower back pain. The torturous waves of misery can make a person wish for death rather than continuing to live with such suffering.
Many patients whom I have interviewed admitted to contemplating suicide during particularly severe periods of back pain. I do not believe in suicide, yet I also thought about it during one horrific experience. I remember talking to my family as I was writhing in pain for 3 days of torment. It started 9/9/01, right before the Trade Center tragedy here in New York. I was in such indescribable agony that I would have preferred death. I remember myself saying that I could not live like this and if it did not stop, I might do something horrible. It brings me chills to revisit this time in my life. The pain was really that bad.
For those who know me, I am not a baby. I have been training in martial arts many decades and have been hurt countless times. I have been beaten down in training, broken bones, torn ligaments, separated tendons, been bloodied too many times to recall. I have fought full contact. I have tested for martial arts belts with broken bones. Life has been a trial for me. I have always endured it with a smile. That is until my back pain literally broke my spirit. Once again, those who know me, would say it is impossible to break Sensei’s spirit, but nevertheless, back pain did it.
I am not scared of anything in this life. I never have been afraid. I do not fear any man, any evil, nor death itself. The only time in my adult life when I experienced true fear was from my back pain. I can completely understand why some patients have fallen into drug or alcohol use, become psychotic or even committed suicide because of their fear of back pain.
Do I agree with their decisions? Of course not. But, I can understand that the will of the pain is often stronger than the will of the patient. Everyone has their breaking point and back pain will bring even the strongest person to that point faster than any other health condition.
There is a solution to the fear problem. The solution is to cure your pain once and for all. I know, this is much easier said than done. For most, it is an impossible dream to be sure. However, if you can't cure it, at least better understand it and come to terms with it. Sometimes, you just have to make the best of bad situations in life. Learning to live with your pain is one of those times.
We all want what does not exist: a guarantee in life. This would make all of us feel so much better. However, there are no guarantees. Life is a series of unpredictabilities and no one can control it in any way. In fact, the entire concept of control does not exist in nature. Accept this and you will feel much better. Remember, there is no sure thing. Good or bad. The lesson works both ways. There is, however, always hope for something better, and while that hope endures, fear will always try to tear it down.
Don’t let it.
Fight the fear and acknowledge your vulnerability to all things in life. Only through this path will you truly be free from back pain fear, even if the pain itself remains.
I delve deeply into the role of fear in the creation, escalation and perpetuation of chronic pain in my lauded book The Power of Fear, available on our Cure Back Pain Forever Program product page.