Back in Control: A Surgeon's Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain, 2nd Edition

Back in Control: A Surgeon's Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain, 2nd Edition

by David Hanscom


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There is no need to spend billions of dollars looking for a cure for chronic pain. The solutions have been known for decades with many people breaking free from its grip. Unfortunately, mainstream medicine has and continued to ignore the physiological and neuroscience data that has revealed the answers. Chronic pain is a complex neurological problem, which is, "….an embedded memory that becomes linked with more and more life experiences, and the memory can’t be erased."

Back in Control provides a framework for you to understand the nature of chronic pain and will allow you to find your own solution based on well-established practices. Since it is a complex problem and you are a unique human being, the one person that can solve it is you. The principles apply to chronic pain involving any part of the body or organ system. The process evolved from the author’s own 15-year experience with severe chronic pain.

The concepts provide a context of care and connect you with other highly-regarded professionals who are pioneers in the efforts to change the pain treatment paradigm. Some of them include Dr. John Sarno, author of Mind Over Back Pain; Dr. Howard Schubiner, who wrote Unlearn Your Pain; Dr. David Burns, a Stanford psychiatrist and author of Feeling Good; Dr. Fred Luskin who performed research on forgiveness at Stanford and authored Forgive for Good; David Allen who authored a brilliant book on organizing your life, Getting Things Done; and Dr. Anthony DeMello, whose last memoirs are presented in The Way to Love, which introduces you to the healing power of awareness.

The essence of solving physical or mental pain is connecting you to your own capacity to heal, which allows you to feel safe. Your body’s chemistry is optimized with profound effects on your pain and sense of well-being. These concepts have been deeply researched by Dr. Steven Porges, the originator of The Polyvagal Theory.

Step into your new life with this largely self-directed process. An action plan is presented on Dr. Hanscom's website,

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780988272996
Publisher: Vertus Press
Publication date: 11/18/2016
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 61,461
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

David Hanscom, MD is a renowned spine surgeon of 30 years. His revolutionary approach to treating chronic pain has helped hundreds of patients live pain-free. His pioneering book, Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain, showed chronic pain sufferers how to quiet a turbocharged central nervous system, relieve the anxiety and depression that often accompany chronic pain, and make a full recovery. His much-awaited follow up book, Do You Really Need Spine Surgery? is being published in 2019. Dr. Hanscom is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs, a regular contributor to Psychology Today, and a sought after speaker at medical conferences around the world.

Table of Contents

Foreword Mark Owens xiii

Introduction 1

Section 1 Descent into the Abyss

Chapter 1 The Pathway into Chronic Pain 13

The Neurophysiological Basis of Chronic Pain

Anxiety, Power, and Bullying

Year Personal Brain Scanner

Descent into the Abyss-An Overview

Chapter 2 The Source of Your Pain 29

Classification of Pain Sources

Tissues-Structural Sources

Tissues-Non-Structural Sources

Degenerative Disc Disease

Central Nervous System-Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD)

Chapter 3 Imbedding Pain Pathways 49

Pain Sensitization

Memorization of Neurological Circuits

Pain Pathways

Feeding Repetitive Negative Thoughts




Chapter 4 The Modifiers-Sleep and Anxiety 67


The Creation of Anxiety

The Natural Progression of Anxiety

Societal Reinforcement of Anxiety

Cultural Programming

The Myth of Self-Esteem

Coping with Anxiety

Chapter 5 The Ultimate Modifier-Anger 89

The Genealogy of Anger

The Abyss

Needing Validation

Disguising Your Anger

Remaining a Victim

Being a Perfectionist

Losing Hope

Section 2 Doc Principles

Chapter 6 Processing Stress 111

The Terrifying Triad

Situational Stress

Principles of Dealing with Stress

Two Aspects of Managing Stress

The Effect of Stress on Pain

Chapter 7 Awareness 125

Defining Awareness

Unawareness and Abuse

Four Levels of Unawareness

Putting the Awareness Model to Work

Chapter 8 Stimulating Your Brain to Change-Neuroplasticity 149

Your Programming

Facilitating Neuroplasticity

Decreasing the Stress Chemicals

Forming New Pathways

Section 3 Your Roadmap Out of Pain

Chapter 9 Embarking on Your Journey 169

The Variables

Overview of the Process

The Paradoxes of Resolving Pain

Flawed Strategies

Chapter 10 Stage 1-Laying the Foundation 183

Step 1 Learn About What's Affecting Your Pain (Awareness)

Step 2 Begin Expressive Writing (Awareness and Separation)

Step 3 Practice Active Meditation (Reprogramming)

Step 4 Don't Share Your Pain (Reprogramming)

Step 5 Sleep (Reprogramming)

Chapter 11 Stage 2-Forgiveness and Play 195

Reactive vs. Creative

Steps to Reconnecting with Your Creativity




Chapter 12 Stage 3-Moving Forward 211

Step 1 Commit to a Daily Practice

Step 2 Create a Safe Haven-Family

Step 3 Get Organized

Step 4 Connect with the Life You Want

Step 5 Your Vision-Ask Three Questions

Chapter 13 Stage 4-Expanding Your Consciousness 223

Step 1 Pass Through the Ring of Fire

Step 2 Step into Your New Life

Step 3 Fail Well

Step 4 Look Up-Your Spiritual Journey

Step 5 Give Back

Section 4 Continuing Your Journey

Chapter 14 Sleep 237

Sleep Hygiene

Bedtime Stress Management


Over-the-Counter Sleep Medications

Prescription Sleep Medications

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Childhood Trauma

Sleep Disorders

Chapter 15 Medication and Chronic Pain 249

Medication Overview



Decreasing Anxiety


Drugs that Directly Affect the Nervous System


Chapter 16 Effective Rehabilitation 257

Begin with a Calm Nervous System

Choose Effective Physical Therapy



Advanced Soft Tissue and Joint Mobilization Work

Specific and Functional Therapeutic Exercise

Long-Term Conditioning

Chapter 17 Expanding Your Horizon 275

Nurturing Gratitude

Reading History

Exploring a Spiritual Path

Active Self-Discovery

Connecting with Others


Appendix A Do You Really Need Surgery? 285

Surgical Nightmares


Flawed Studies

A Careful Study

Putting Myself Out of Business

A Final Word

Appendix B Self-Inventory Template 303

Overview of Self Today

Where Do I Want to Be in Five Years?

Action Plan for This Year

Acknowledgments 305

Glossary 307

References 317

Recommended Reading 327

Helpful Organizations 329

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