Sciatica and Dr. Sarno are 2 topics of interest for patients who are experiencing mindbody pain in their lower back, buttocks, legs and/or feet. Dr. John E. Sarno is a renowned physician and literary figure who has helped many patients to better understand the nature of nonstructural symptoms linked to the psychoemotional processes.
Dr. Sarno practices at The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitative Medicine at the NYU Medical Center in Manhattan. However, he is far better known for his widely published books which detail the diagnosis that he has made famous: tension myositis syndrome.
This essay profiles Dr. Sarno and his work with sciatica patients.
Most sciatica conditions are diagnosed as being caused by a lumbar spinal structural source, such as a herniated disc or osteoarthritis condition. The vast majority of ongoing lower back and leg pain syndromes are justified to patients in a manner which details a spinal structure compressing a nerve root, leading to chronic pain and possible neurological symptoms. The patient will almost always be sternly warned against vigorous activity and provided with a substantial nocebo effect by the dire prognosis for their future.
Dr. Sarno would be likely to look at the same clinical profile and diagnose something completely different. He would typically diagnose internal emotional issues leading to bodily pain through the process called ischemia. In TMS, the pain is harmless and the herniated disc in the lower back is coincidental to the symptoms. His advice to the patient would be something akin to: "You will be fine".
Dr. Sarno definitely has credibility due to his almost-too-good-to-be-true cure rate. Regardless, many of his critics, and supporters alike, cite that he is to consumed with the mind and not enough with the body. However, John Sarno does cite examples of patients who have needed medical treatment due to definitive structural issues.
In my own case, while under his care, he completely dismissed my known structural concerns and told me to focus exclusively on the emotionally-motivated nature of my symptoms. I should mention that Dr. Sarno treated me in his knowledge therapy program years ago. I will detail this program below.
The traditional medical establishment loves to treat back, neck and sciatica pain. They will treat it and treat it and treat it some more. However they are hard pressed to ever cure it. In fact, most of the treatments utilized are purposefully symptomatic in nature and many of the remaining ones are generally, but not exclusively, poorly conceived and inappropriately executed.
Statistics clearly show that patients with severe back pain have a better chance of making a faster and more complete recovery if they never seek any medical treatment, compared to those patients who do seek medical care. This is as frightening a statistic as any I have ever witnessed.
Dr. Sarno would advise attendance at a lecture and the continuing reading of his books. He would not want the patient to cope with their pain, nor string them along with some symptomatic treatment. He would prescribe what he hopes will become a true cure in the form of knowledge therapy for all his patients. Knowledge therapy does not involve any medical care. Instead, it is a cognitive treatment which uses introspection, journaling and emotional work to get to the bottom of why a patient suffers.
I provide many articles on this therapy option on the sites of The Cure Back Pain Network, so feel free to utilize the site search in the right side column to find them all for your further research needs.
Dr. Sarno was a one-of-a-kind medical professional, but now, there are more TMS doctors than ever before and these younger doctors are bringing his theories and practices to the next level. However, there will never be another Dr. John E. Sarno.
This man had the intestinal fortitude to speak up for what he knew was right and stand behind his research despite huge adversity from his peers. He advanced his ideas and gathered support where it was easiest to find; from his successfully treated patients. As their numbers became legion, it became impossible for the medical establishment to ignore him anymore.
There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. John Sarno will go down in medical history as a great pioneer and patient advocate. It might take some time, but the truth always prevails in the end. It should be noted that mindbody health practices have come a long way, as well. Originally considered some new age hocus pocus, mindbody treatments are now universal in long-term care, cancer therapy, addiction recovery, AIDS research, autoimmune disease treatment, and of course, in the chronic pain sector.
If you are a patient who wants to learn more about sciatica and Dr. Sarno, you can find his books for free at your local library.