Moving Beyond Trauma: An Interview with Author Ilene Smith

 

 

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Have you noticed that no matter how much time you spend in talk therapy, you still feel anxious and triggered? That is because talk therapy can keep you stuck in a pattern of reliving your stories, rather than moving beyond them. But, most of all, it’s because trauma doesn’t just reside inside your mind–much more importantly, it locks itself in other parts of your body. When left unresolved, that trauma continues to live there, impacting your life, your relationships, your sense of safety, and your ability to experience joy in very real ways.

In Moving Beyond TraumaIlene Smith will introduce you to Somatic Experiencing, a body-based therapy capable of healing the damage done to your nervous system by trauma. She breaks down the ways in which trauma impacts your nervous system and walks you through a program designed to process trauma in a non-threatening way. You will discover a healing lifestyle marked by a deeper connection with yourself, those around you, and with everything you do.

 

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INTERVIEW WITH ILENE SMITH

 

What is somatic experiencing?

 

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body therapy modality used to heal trauma. When an event happens too fast and we do not have the time or ability for self-protection or defense, this survival energy gets stuck in our body as an incomplete biological reaction. This stuck energy is what causes trauma symptoms and the nervous system loses its ability to maintain a state of balance. The trapped energy from the traumatic experience causes the nervous system to rush to a state of fight, flight, or freeze. SE works to help bring the nervous system back on-line by helping the individual restore their sense of safety. This can only happen when the body has a “biological completion” and the trauma energy has the opportunity to reintegrate back into the body.  

While SE uses talking in the process, the talking is used to track body sensation and meaning attached to experiences, rather than bring the individual back into the event of the trauma. When we bring the body into the therapy process and facilitate a way for the individual to physically move through the experience with a sense of safety, the relationship to the experience changes and the stuck energy will discharge.

 

Why did you want to become a somatic experiencing practitioner?

When I went back to school in my early 40’s for a degree in mental health counseling, I knew I wanted to work with trauma. I was introduced to SE during my internship at an eating disorder clinic and felt as though SE was complimentary to talk therapy. I also felt as though it was the missing link for trauma healing. I became a student of the work as well as a patient because I believe you can only take a client as far as you are willing to go yourself. I was experiencing great results personally and began applying the principles of SE with my clients. The results were phenomenal. Clients with eating disorders and addiction were moving away from their maladaptive behaviors and finding deeper and more meaningful connections with themselves and others. I feel strongly and passionately that the body and the nervous system need to be part of the healing process for real and everlasting change.

 

What type of rewards do you get by helping others heal?

There is nothing more rewarding than watching a person go from surviving to thriving in their life. I have and continue to walk people through incredible healing journeys. I love being part of transformation and nothing feels better than being able to add value to other’s lives.

 

What is the focus on the nervous system related to this type of therapy?

While the nervous system is designed to be self-regulating, it has its limitations around trauma. Unresolved trauma, especially when trauma is chronic and accumulated, can lead to more extensive mental and physical health symptoms. The long-term effect of SE treatment is a restored sense of healthy nervous system functioning, which includes reduction in maladaptive coping skills, resolved sleep issues, and mood stabilization — to name a few. When the body gains the capacity to self-regulate, it restores its sense of safety and balance. In turn, stress hormones are lower and the body can produce more “feel good” hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin.

Unlike most therapy modalities which are considered “top down,” meaning they use our highest form of cognition, SE begins with a “bottom up” approach of sensorimotor processing aimed at guiding the client through the most primitive to the most complex brain systems. The therapist begins by guiding the client to track sensation and movements, helping a patient develop a felt sense of his internal states of tension, relaxation and respiration cycles. This is a powerful mechanism to regulate the autonomic nervous system. 

 

What does unresolved trauma mean and how does it affect our bodies?

When trauma is unresolved our survival mechanisms of fight flight and freeze get stuck in the on position and our autonomic nervous system (ANS) kicks into high gear. These states are only meant for acute situations for defense and protection. Our ANS contributes to how we regulate every state in our body including heart rate, breath, digestion and bladder.  When our bodies are in stress physiology, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol start pumping through the body causing all sorts of imbalances both emotionally and physically. There have been many studies showing the impact of trauma and stress on the emotional and physical body. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study showed that the more emotional and physical abuse a person had during childhood the more likely they are to experience mental and physical health issues as adults. This body and mind are intrinsically connected and this is why bringing the body into the healing process is so important.

 

What happens in the brain when trauma is processed, or resolved?

When trauma is resolved a person will begin to see and move through the world with more vitality and ease. They will begin to have a more accurate ability to sense safety and danger and experience a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them. When trauma is resolved a person will feel more present, helping them better express themselves and understand their needs and desires. These changes in the nervous system and brain, reduce anxiety, depression and maladaptive behaviors used to cope with pain and discomfort. Ultimately the individual will feel more curious and resilient to face the ups and down of life.

 

How does this type of therapy build resilience? 

SE works with the bodies most primitive instincts to help integrate trauma memories into the body. When this occurs, a person will experience a greater sense of safety within themselves. In other words, a person gains a sense of mastery over themselves and their feelings. It is a knowing that you can handle and tolerate what you are experiencing. Resilience is a byproduct of knowing you have the internal resources to survive and this is what we teach the body through the process of SE.

 

I love the title of your book, Moving Beyond Trauma. What can a life beyond trauma look like, and what kind of hope does it bring? 

Thank you! When trauma is resolved we gain capacity to live our lives with more presence and intention. We can connect to ourselves and others and feel more curious to explore the things that we like. Ultimately moving beyond trauma allows the space to find passion and vibrance. I like to think of life after trauma as a healing lifestyle. A healing lifestyle is different for each person, but it is a life of self-care with body/mind alignment. It is a life beyond survival where an individual can and has the desire to grow and thrive.

 

Where can people learn more about somatic experiencing?

My book Moving Beyond Trauma is available on Amazon. 

If someone is interested in finding a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in their area, they can go to www.traumahealing.org. I also have many articles on my website www.ilenesmith.com

 

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Pro Writing Aid: The Personal Trainer for Authors SPF episode 227

 

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Pro Writing Aid: The Personal Trainer for Authors (The Self Publishing Show, episode 227)

 

 

 

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Writing, Publishing, Book Marketing: Q&A session with Joanna Penn

 

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Writing, Publishing, Book Marketing: QA session with Joanna Penn

 

 

 

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Getting Into Libraries With Draft2Digital – Dan Wood

 

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Getting Into Libraries With Draft2Digital – Dan Wood (The Self Publishing Show, episode 221)

 

 

 

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Legal Thriller: No Truth Left To Tell by Michael McAuliffe an Excerpt

 

 

No Truth Left to Tell

 

February 1994—Lynwood, Louisiana: Flaming crosses light up the night and terrorize the southern town. The resurgent Klan wants a new race war, and the Klansmen will start it here. As federal civil rights prosecutor Adrien Rush is about to discover, the ugly roots of the past run deep in Lynwood.

For Nettie Wynn, a victim of the cross burnings and lifelong resident of the town’s segregated neighborhood, the hate crimes summon frightful memories of her youth, when she witnessed white townspeople lynch a black man. Her granddaughter Nicole DuBose, a successful journalist in New York City, returns to Lynwood to care for her grandmother. Rush arrives from DC and investigates the crimes with Lee Mercer, a seasoned local FBI special agent. Their partnership is tested as they clash over how far to go to catch the racists before the violence escalates. Rush’s role in the case becomes even more complicated after he falls for DuBose. When crucial evidence becomes compromisethreatening to upend what should be a celebrated conviction—the lines between right and wrong, black and white, collide with deadly consequences.

No Truth Left to Tell is a smart legal thriller that pulls readers into a compelling courtroom drama and an illusive search for justice in a troubled community.

 

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An Excerpt

NO TRUTH LEFT TO TELL

By Michael McAuliffe

 

Prologue

July 1920
Lynwood, Louisiana

 

The following excerpt is reprinted from No Truth Left to Tell by Michael McAuliffe, released on March 3, 2020. Reprinted with permission of Greenleaf Book Group. Copyright © 2020 Michael McAuliffe.

 

Nettie glided along the sidewalk in her best dress, her mother’s creation that would soon be too small. That Saturday, however, the colorful outfit still fit and perfectly complemented her wide smile and earnest stride. The dress was spring blue with flower patterns bursting open into full blossoms, quite like Nettie herself. 

She stayed out of the way of the white pedestrians inspecting her with what appeared to be a mixture of curiosity and irritation. “What’s that one doin’ here?” one woman asked as she passed by. So Nettie hugged the buildings as she moved, trying to disappear against the facades. There was something big going on in the square, but Nettie couldn’t see over or through the gathering, since she was just seven years old. 

She had pleaded with her parents to go with her father from their home in Mooretown, Lynwood’s section for blacks, to a nearby town while he delivered a meal to a close friend who was gravely ill. At the last minute, Nettie’s mother had wanted one more item added to the delivery from a store on Lynwood’s downtown square—an establishment that served them only from the back door off an alley. Nettie was supposed to wait in the car, but despite her father’s admonishments, the strange and festive noises drew her out into the nearby crowd where she was protected only by her look of youthful wonder. 

Lynwood’s civic core was comprised of an expanse of lawn with a massive oak reigning over the surroundings. Four perpendicular streets framed the lawn, and they had been closed for several hours so people could mingle without regard to sputtering cars. The attendees had obliged the gesture by swarming the entire area by midmorning. The day’s activities appeared to originate across the street nearer the tree, allowing the spectators along the periphery to wander about with more freedom. From where Nettie was she could see the crown of the tree, and she moved in that direction as if pulled by some invisible force. 

The day was hot and humid. High clouds had gathered through the morning and darkened the midday sky, but the music played on and people chatted in small groups as if they were at an annual parish fair. 

After several minutes of distant rumbling a sprinkle started, and it soon developed into cascading water pouring from invisible pots in the sky. The drenching dispersed the crowd into stores and under awnings. Deserted chairs and soda bottles lay across the lawn. 

The scattering of the masses created large openings around the square. What was an impenetrable wall of people became a flat, open field of vision. The oak, of course, remained right where it had begun decades before as a sapling. 

Nettie couldn’t run into any of the stores like the others caught out in the street during the rainstorm. So, like the oak, she remained standing, although now she had a clear view of the square. Her dress—dripping and heavy with water—would have distracted her in any other setting, but unanswered curiosity kept her searching the square for clues about the day’s festivities. 

The oak tree had long, thick branches, like the heavy arms of a giant. A braided rope was slung over one of these arms, out about ten feet from the trunk. The rope was wrapped once about the branch and secured to a large stake in the ground. The other end of the rope was fashioned into a noose, and suspended from it was the still body of a black man. The man’s neck was grotesquely angled, and the feet were bare. His hands were bound behind his back. 

Nettie leaned forward like she was about to rush toward the oak. But she neither ran away nor went to it. She stared up at what had been until moments before a living, breathing person. She was frozen in place and time—alone in the moment when her world changed forever. 

Her father came running from behind and snatched her up with such force that the dress ripped along a side seam. He covered her with his protective embrace and spirited her away to the car that waited in the alley. They headed straight home using back streets and little-known shortcuts, the car not speeding despite the urgency of the situation. The trip to deliver the meal basket was abandoned as her father kept swearing that he’d never go to the square again. 

Nettie didn’t look outside the car. She kept her head down and stared at one of the dress’s printed blossoms, the flower part of the pattern ending at the hemline to reveal her trembling knees. 

 

 

Michael McAulife

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael McAuliffe is the author of No Truth Left to Tell and has been a practicing lawyer for thirty years. He was a federal prosecutor serving both as a supervisory assistant US attorney in the Southern District of Florida and a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. In 2008, Michael was elected and served as the state attorney for Palm Beach County, leading an office of approximately 125 prosecutors. He was  known for leading the ethics reform movement in county that resulted in the creation of a permanent inspector general, an ethics commission, and new ethics code. Michael and his wife Robin Rosenberg, a US district judge, have three children and live in Florida and Massachusetts. For more information, please visit https://notruthlefttotell.com/

 

 

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Expeditionary Force Blog Tour: Paradise by Craig Alanson

 

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About Audiobook #3

Author: Craig Alanson

Narrator: R.C. Bray

Length: 15 hours 53 minutes

Publisher: Podium Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Expeditionary Force, Book 3

Release date: May 23, 2017

Synopsis: While the crew of the starship Flying Dutchman have been trying to assure people that hostile aliens do not have access to Earth, the UN Expeditionary Force has been stranded on the planet they nicknamed “Paradise”. The Flying Dutchman is headed back out on another mission, and the UN wants the ship to find out the status of the humans on Paradise. But Colonel Joe Bishop warns that they might not like what they find, and they can’t do anything about it without endangering Earth.

 

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Good story development in this one. I’ve grown accustomed to hearing Skippy’s snarky remarks on Joe Bishop as they embark on another wacky journey across the universe. R.C. Bray really gets into character “as usual” with several “LOL” moments! The fact that someone can craft something like this is remarkable. The strong narrative and dialogue make you feel part of the adventure.

 

 

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NARRATOR INTERVIEW WITH R.C. BRAY

 

Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?

I had two great champions get me through the door: Pat Fraley and Scott Brick.  Bringing my years of acting experience to narration impressed them enough to make suggestions, introductions, and continued support.  Also, ACX was launched the same time I got into narration. Being able to use that as a means to navigate the process (along with many patient authors, rights holders, and independent publishers), was a godsend.  Several of the titles I did via ACX garnered attention from bigger publishers and off I went.

 

A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?

It’s not essential, but it does help.

 

What type of training have you undergone?

I was a CTA (Communications/Theatre Arts) major in college that performed Off-Broadway and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  I also attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting where, because of my theatre background, I excelled during the voiceover portion.  It was my abilities in voiceover that was a catalyst to getting the job at Kaplowe Studios.

 

How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?

I keep from burning out by thinking of my past jobs.  I don’t ever want to have to go back to doing any of them.  The thought of that lights a massive fire in me.

 

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? 

I used to listen to them nonstop when I was a commuter.

 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?

Unless it’s really brilliant writing, my least favorite part is when I get to the middle and realize I’m only halfway done.  My favorite part is being exposed to books I would likely have never picked up.

 

Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?

I’d love to be suited for children’s/YA novels, but I’m afraid my deep voice doesn’t jibe well with them.

 

How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

Enough to get certain information but definitely not so much they start to direct.  You wrote it, now let me read it.

 

Who are your “accent inspirations”?

Frank Muller, Paul Michael, Scott Brick

 

What types of things are harmful to your voice?

No idea.  I’m not a vocal warm-up kind of guy.  I just go for it. Pneumonia sucks though.

 

Has anyone ever recognized you from your voice?

No, but after I tell people what I do (only if they ask, I don’t like bringing it up) they inevitably “hear it now!”

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Craig Alanson

Craig Alanson is a NYT best-selling author. His first audiobook ‘Columbus Day’ was one of five finalists for Audiobook Of The Year 2018 Visit craigalanson.com for FAQs, blog posts, merchandise, etc.

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About the Narrator: R.C. Bray

From an early age Audie, Earphones, and SOVAS Voice Arts Award-winning audiobook narrator R.C. Bray despised reading. Truly hated it with a passion.

And audiobooks? Even worse. Those were for people too lazy to read (not to be confused with those like himself who didn’t want to read to begin with).

R.C. eventually got older and wiser (he was always good-looking) and eschewing his capricious convictions fell head-over-heels with reading. Not just to learn words like “eschew” and “capricious” so he could use them in a bio line, but because someone was actually going to give him money to do it.

Note: R.C.’s gorgeous wife and three beautiful children begged him not to make this his official bio. Clearly he misunderstood.

 

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About the Publisher: Podium Publishing

Podium is an industry-leading independent audiobook publisher built upon the foundation of successful partnerships with self-published authors and narrators. With deep share of voice in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Romance, the company has enjoyed quick commercial and critical acclaim, releasing almost 1,300 audiobooks, numerous best-sellers, winning an Audie Award and 13 Voice Arts Awards. Podium is best-known for supporting, nurturing and discovering independent authors and narrators from the U.S. and around the world. The company gained international notice when it took a risk on one-time unknown author Andy Weir (The Martian) and turned his e-book into the largest audiobook seller in the world.

 

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Expeditionary Force Blog Tour: Columbus Day by Craig Alanson

 

 

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About Audiobook #1

Author: Craig Alanson

Narrator: R.C. Bray

Length: 16 hours 23 minutes

Publisher: Podium Publishing⎮2016

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Expeditionary Force, Book 1

Release date: Dec. 13, 2016

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Nominee, 2018 Audie Awards — Audiobook of the Year

We were fighting on the wrong side of a war we couldn’t win. And that was the good news. 

The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the Native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon came ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There went the good old days, when humans got killed only by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits. 

When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved. The UN Expeditionary Force hitched a ride on Kristang ships to fight the Ruhar wherever our new allies thought we could be useful. So, I went from fighting with the US Army in Nigeria to fighting in space. It was lies, all of it. We shouldn’t even be fighting the Ruhar; they aren’t our enemy. Our allies are. 

I’d better start at the beginning.

 

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An extraordinary story that made me feel transported into the cosmos! In this case, the planet Paradise with the Ruhar and the Kristang alien species. The sheer depth of each chapter is remarkable and almost seems like a story in themselves. Narrator R.C. Bray delivers, of course, adding another level of entertainment. I didn’t know how funny this until I got into it. The interactions between the UN Expeditionary Force and the ancient Artificial Intelligence, “Skippy”, is hilarious. Good springboard for the rest of the series. 

 

 

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INTERVIEW WITH NARRATOR R.C. BRAY

 

When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?

When I heard Frank Muller for the first time (The Dark Tower, Book II: The Drawing of the Three).  I always thought a narrator just “read” the book. When Frank started doing character voices and acting and just all-around engaging me as a listener, I knew that with my background it’s what I’m supposed to do.

 

How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?

My last job before becoming a full-time narrator, was as Senior Producer and Voiceover for a company owned by a wonderful guy named Mark Kaplowe who was the voice of HBO, Butterfinger, Zest, and other big businesses in the 90s.  When his son was born, he wanted to eliminate traveling into NYC so he could be around him as much as possible. So he combined his love for automobiles and voiceover prowess, and began an ad company for local car dealerships. His big thing was “growing his business” and he loved audiobooks that were related to just that.  Since I had a commute of about 45 minutes (both ways) he wanted me to listen to them as well. I listened to countless business audiobooks before I decided to try a fiction title – The Dark Tower, Book I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King seemed like a good, short place to start. George Guidall was an outstanding introduction to audiobooks (Fiction), but it wasn’t until Frank Muller that I actually made an effort to find out more about becoming a narrator.

 

Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?

I had two great champions get me through the door: Pat Fraley and Scott Brick.  Bringing my years of acting experience to narration impressed them enough to make suggestions, introductions, and continued support.  Also, ACX was launched the same time I got into narration. Being able to use that as a means to navigate the process (along with many patient authors, rights holders, and independent publishers), was a godsend.  Several of the titles I did via ACX garnered attention from bigger publishers and off I went.

A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?

It’s not essential, but it does help.

 

What type of training have you undergone?

I was a CTA (Communications/Theatre Arts) major in college that performed Off-Broadway and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  I also attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting where, because of my theatre background, I excelled during the voiceover portion.  It was my abilities in voiceover that was a catalyst to getting the job at Kaplowe Studios.

 

 

 

CRAIG ALANSON 

Craig Alanson is a NYT best-selling author. His first audiobook ‘Columbus Day’ was one of five finalists for Audiobook Of The Year 2018 Visit www.craigalanson.com for FAQs, blog posts, merchandise.

 

 

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Walking & Writing: How to Write Better With Dictation with Kevin J. Anderson

 

 

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How to Make a Living Writing One Book a Year with Jami Albright

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An Excerpt: Ending Back Pain 5 Powerful Steps by Jack Stern M.D., Ph.D

 

 

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A totally new paradigm for treating back pain

Virtually every American will suffer from back pain at some point. Dr. Jack Stern, a neurosurgeon and professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, brings relief to these millions of sufferers (including himself) who literally ache for help. Based on the latest scientific data, Dr. Stern developed a five-step solution with a multidisciplinary, holistic perspective that’s been missing from conventional back pain wisdom:

 

  • Step One: Unlock your back’s unique pain code
  • Step Two: Prepare to work with health care professionals
  • Step Three: Ensure proper diagnosis
  • Step Four: Embrace various pathways to healing
  • Step Five: Live a life that supports a strong, healthy back

 

Engagingly written and chock-full of enlightening case studies, Ending Back Pain finally shares the program that’s already helped more than 10,000 grateful patients.

 

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Ending Back Pain
by Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D.

 

Excerpted from Ending Back Pain: 5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back. Copyright © by Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D. Published by Avery. All rights reserved.

 

Most feelings of discomfort in life have clear solutions. For a stuffy nose, decongestants do the trick. For a pounding headache, aspirin or Tylenol comes in handy. But what do you do about a relentlessly aching back? As most of us know, the answer is not nearly as clear-cut as we’d wish. And unlike infectious diseases that often have targeted remedies (think antibiotics for bacterial infections and vaccines for viruses), ailing backs are like misbehaving, obnoxious family members—we can’t easily get rid of them or “fix” them. They also have a tendency to stick around and bother us nonstop, lowering our quality of life considerably and indefinitely.

Perhaps nothing could be more frustrating than a sore or hurting back. It seems to throw off everything else in our body, and makes daily living downright miserable. With the lifetime prevalence approaching 100 percent, virtually all of us have been or will be affected by low back pain at some point. Luckily, most of us recover from a bout of back pain within a few weeks and don’t experience another episode. But for some of us, the back gives us chronic problems. As many as 40 percent of people have a recurrence of back pain within six months.

At any given time, an astounding 15 to 30 percent of adults are experiencing back pain, and up to 80 percent of sufferers eventually seek medical attention. Sedentary people between the ages of forty-five and sixty are affected most, although I should point out that for people younger than forty-five, lower back pain is the most common cause for limiting one’s activities. And here’s the most frustrating fact of all: A specific diagnosis is often elusive; in many cases it’s not possible to give a precise diagnosis, despite advanced imaging studies. In other words, we doctors cannot point to a specific place in your back’s anatomy and say something along the lines of, “That’s exactly where the problem is, and here’s how we’ll fix it.” This is why the field of back pain has shifted from one in which we look solely for biomechanical approaches to treatment to one where we have to consider patients’ attitudes and beliefs. We have to look at a dizzying array of factors, because back pain is best understood through multiple lenses, including biology, psychology, and even sociology.

 

The Challenge

So, why is back pain such a confounding problem? For one, it’s lumped into one giant category, even though it entails a constellation of potential culprits. You may have back pain stemming from a skiing accident, whereas your neighbor experiences back pain as the consequence of an osteoporotic fracture. Clearly, the two types of back pain are different, yet we call them “back pain” on both accounts, regardless. Back pain has an indeterminate range of possible causes, and therefore multiple solutions and treatment options. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this malady. That is why diagnosing back pain, particularly persistent or recurrent pain, is so challenging for physicians.

Some people are able to describe the exact moment or series of moments when they incurred the damage to their back—a car accident, a slip and fall, a difficult pregnancy, a heavy-lifting job at work, a sports-related injury, a marathon, and so on. But for many, the moment isn’t so obvious, or what they think is causing them the back pain is far from accurate.

The Two Types of Back Pain

If you are going to experience back pain, you’d prefer to have the acute and temporary kind rather than the chronic and enigmatic kind. The former is typically caused by a musculoskeletal issue that resolves itself in due time. This would be like pulling a muscle in your back during a climb up a steep hill on your bicycle or sustaining an injury when you fall from the stepladder in the garage. You feel pain for a few weeks and then it’s silenced, hence the term self-limiting back pain. It strikes, you give it some time, it heals, and it’s gone.

The second type of back pain, though, is often worse, because it’s not easily attributed to a single event or accident. Often, either sufferers don’t know what precipitated the attack, or they remember some small thing as the cause, such as bending from the waist to lift an object instead of squatting down (i.e., lifting with the legs) or stepping off a curb too abruptly. It can start out of nowhere and nag you endlessly. It can build slowly over time but lack a clear beginning. Your doctor scratches his head, trying to diagnose the source of the problem, and as a result your treatment options aren’t always aligned with the root cause of the problem well enough to solve it forever. It should come as no surprise, then, that those with no definitive diagnosis reflect the most troubling cases for patients and doctors.

 

What Are the Chances?

Chances are good that you’ll experience back pain at some point in your life. Your lifetime risk is arguably close to 100 percent. And unfortunately, recurrence rates are appreciable. The chance of it recurring within one year of a first episode is estimated to be between 20 and 44 percent; within ten years, 80 percent of sufferers report back pain again. Lifetime recurrence is estimated to be 85 percent. Hence, the goal should be to alleviate symptoms and prevent future episodes.

Excerpted from Ending Back Pain: 5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back. Copyright © by Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D. Published by Avery. All rights reserved.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jack Stern, M.D., Ph.D., is the author of Ending Back Pain: 5 Powerful Steps to Diagnose, Understand, and Treat Your Ailing Back. He is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in spinal surgery, and cofounder of Spine Options, one of America’s first facilities committed to nonsurgical care of back and neck pain. Dr. Stern is on the clinical faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College and has published numerous peer- and non peer– reviewed medical articles. He lives and practices in White Plains, New York. For more information, please visit https://drjackstern.com/

 

 

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