Psychological back pain stigma is an unfortunate consequence for many patients, since it often prevents them from recognizing or accepting the true underlying psychogenic causation for their suffering. Society generally perceives any psychological condition as a weakness or imperfection in character. As long as this popular view remains, the cure for psychogenic back pain will be available only to the lucky few who can dismiss this stigma and work diligently to return to the path of good health.
This essay details the negative implications of admitting that you might suffer from a pain syndrome that is enacted by the mind, rather than caused by any injury or disease in the physical body. The psychological back pain stigma is one of the major impediments to many patients' recovery efforts.
Back pain is a condition that appears to be so physical. The pain is certainly very real and yet the cause is often idiopathic. Many back ache conditions are actually caused or perpetuated by some emotional process.
Diagnosis of a physical abnormality is easy to accomplish, since many back pain scapegoat conditions are common in the general population. Herniated discs, degenerative disc disease and spinal osteoarthritis are normal for people to experience and do not always cause pain. Often, these conditions are discovered by accident and have been present for many years without the patient having any symptoms at all. However, when back pain is present, these conditions are always the ones that must be causing the pain, right?
Well, the fact is that there is a literal epidemic of back pain today. Obviously, the treatments designed to cure these physical causes do not work in the majority of cases of treatment-resistant back pain.
It is an sad situation for many patients who actually have psychosomatic back pain, but are treated for a physical cause. They will not get better. They will most likely move from treatment to treatment, as their condition starts to control their lives. Their prognosis is not good, since no doctor is treating the actual cause of their pain, which is repressed psychoemotional issues.
Physical pain is viewed as a temporary condition that can be treated and moved past. A physical injury always emotes sympathy from society, as well as wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. Physical pain is a justifiable reason to relax, stay home from work or shirk any responsibility.
Psychologically-induced pain is viewed as a personality defect. If a person displays any negative psychoemotional conditions, they are viewed as personally defective. Many people, including doctors, will not view psychological back pain as a real phenomenon that deserves treatment or even sympathy. They will either judge the patient as either “eccentric” or “crazy”, or simply tell the patient “it is all in your head”. Well, I can assure you, even if the cause is 100% psychological, the pain is very real.
Informing a patient that their pain is not real is so insulting. However, telling the patient that some physical condition is the cause of the pain, when the actual cause is emotional issues, is criminal negligence.
This misdiagnosis happens every day and perpetuates many patient's pain conditions for years. All this unnecessary suffering simply because of the medical and societal resistance to accept the fact that humans are more than just their mechanical bodies. The body and mind are one entity and either part can affect the other for good or ill.
Some intuitive patients might guess that their chronic back pain is actually due to some psychological cause. I have met some patients who had this thought and were scolded by their doctors. They were made to feel like they were indeed crazy for merely suggesting the idea that their pain was emotionally-induced. One woman even broke down and cried when her doctor told her that the idea was idiocy.
What an insult, especially since this particular patient, as well as many of the others, eventually cured their chronic pain using knowledge therapy. Who is the idiot now, doctor?
However, you have to understand why medical professionals often take this stance. It is all about education and economics, which are intrinsically related anyway. Doctors are not well prepared to recognize psychoemotional pain syndromes; unless they have specialized in the relatively new field of psychophysiology, that is. Additionally, even if a psychoemotional cause seemed obvious, recognizing it to be the source of pain would cost doctors economically. Physicians provide physical treatment and survive financially to do just this. They can not provide psychological therapies and would have to refer the patient (and their money) away in order to accomplish this goal. When you look at it this way, the stigma makes much more sense.
This is a simple plea to doctors and therapists worldwide… Please wake up. Back pain patients are suffering due to your inability to accurately diagnose the true cause of many painful complaints. Open your mind to what makes perfect sense. Be true scientists and healers instead of greedy business people.
Psychological processes can affect the physical body. You have proven it. The placebo effect is a perfect example. Fear and anxiety in the mind can create muscular tension, high blood pressure, perspiration or even paralysis in the body. Sexual response is a very physical manifestation of a psychological process. I could go on and on and on…
It is not fair to create a psychological back pain stigma when other forms of mindbody process are openly accepted as influencing the physical anatomy.
If you are a patient who has cured your own psychogenic symptoms using knowledge therapy, be proud and consider yourself lucky. You are one of the few that have beaten the psychological back pain stigma. You have proven yourself to be right, despite the critics, and you are now well. Congratulations.
If you are beginning to suspect that your pain might be from a psychoemotional cause, then be brave. Have courage in your beliefs, and continue to pursue your own cure, despite the nay-saying of others. Finding a cure is your #1 priority. If you are successful, you will be vindicated. If not, you can always continue to explore the alternate possibilities, with no harm done.
If you are convinced that your cure-defiant back pain is caused by some physical defect or injury, I pray for you. I pray that you are right. It is your only hope that you will improve. If weeks, months or years go by without relief, I implore you to reconsider the possibility that your pain might be more, and less, than it first appears to be. Good luck.