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Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,645 ratings  ·  406 reviews
Dr. John E. Sarno's groundbreaking research on TMS (Tension Myoneural Syndrome) reveals how stress and other psychological factors can cause back pain-and how you can be pain free without drugs, exercise, or surgery.

Dr. Sarno's program has helped thousands of patients find relief from chronic back conditions. In this New York Times bestseller, Dr. Sarno teaches you how to
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 1st 1991 by Grand Central Life & Style (first published 1991)
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Lenore There's a book by one of Dr. Sarno's followers that purports to walk one through the program, and it is $25, including a CD. http://www.unlearnyourpai…moreThere's a book by one of Dr. Sarno's followers that purports to walk one through the program, and it is $25, including a CD.
I have not yet tried it, but I'm about to do so.(less)
Niamh Dempsey It could help you to come to the realisation that the "actual" physical injury you have been told is causative is not in fact causing the pain, there…more It could help you to come to the realisation that the "actual" physical injury you have been told is causative is not in fact causing the pain, there is a chapter dedicated to debunking various diagnosis, which although could be responsible for pain, are not responsible for 90% of it.(less)

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Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
CHANGED MY LIFE! I have written this on so many sites now since reading this. In short, I am a long time sufferer of low back pain. Pain runs down the leg and all over the core area. Had surgery at age 19 in 2002. All my love of sports and competing was ruined. Angry most of the time and when I'm not, I am in pain and wishing something would change my life. I have done surgery, PT, Tensunit, Injections, Massages, Trainers, Creams, More pills than any person in life should ever take... I have don ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
The premise of this book is all right there in the title. There is a mind-body connection and recognizing it you can heal your back pain. At it's core I believe this premise. Unfortunately I did not like this book for a variety of reasons. As has been stated in other reviews, it is repetitive and doesn't actually explain the process of healing. The author is dismissive of others and arrogant. The research cited is old. I read the 2016 reprint of the 1991 version of this book. I think the only th ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm guessing people will have mixed feelings about this, but I felt this book helped me.

It does drag on (as many people have noted).

It does show it's age in some of its comments (Page 68 is TMS worldwide, and basically assuming the entire African continent does not experience this issue or stress comes to mind - yeah, 1980s early 90s clueless much? A better statement might have been about work environment culture rather than just lumping continents and ethnic groups).

This book isn't just about b
Laurel Marlantes
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
No book has changed my life more. I'm amazed and so thankful I was told to read this book. Anyone who has suffered from ANY difficult to diagnosis condition should read this. After 3 years of struggle with numerous doctors and procedures and tests and who knows how much in medical bills, I literally have had zero back pain since reading this book and adopting Dr. Sarnos beliefs. I know I sound like I drank the Koolaid, but its true!! It's weird, and crazy, I know. But its also so awesome and the ...more
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
First I will say that if this book worked for you then, more power to you! I am a big believer in his premise that tension can result in physical pain manifesting itself in various forms. With that said, the other 180 pages of this book consisted of Dr. Sarno complaining that most people don't believe him and the medical profession discounts his discoveries. His proof consists of stories from his patients and how he cured them and leaves out anything based on facts. Instead, he uses phrases like ...more
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The idea that deeply repressed anger can cause physical tension, resulting in not only back pain but digestive and sinus problems and headaches....yes, I can get behind that.
However, I agree with the other reviewers here who have said the book is too vague and repetitive. OK...Doc, so yes, I am tense, stressed out, and anxious and my back hurts like H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, but what specifically am I supposed to do about it?
That said, it is nice to see a medical professional actually doing
Gregg Bell
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This book pulled me back from the brink of life-threatening problems. And I'll be the first to admit that the book sounds boring. "Healing Back Pain." Yawn!! I don't remember where I got the book. All I know is I'm glad I did.

The book is nothing as it seems. The second half of the title ("Mind-Body Connection") is really what the book is all about. "Bad backs" are just perhaps the most prevalent form of "recurring and chronic" physical pain, and so Sarno (or perhaps somebody at the publisher) we

Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
All the stars!! If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. If a book can make your pain go away, that is all that matters. I’m surprised that anyone is even mentioning anything about writing style, etc. People complain that he is repetive and that he sounds like he’s trying to convince you of something. First of all, if your pain goes away from this book, are you really concerned about the writing? Second, the reason he is repetitive is because in order to make the pain go away, you ne ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
it really is like a miracle.

I've been dealing with lower back pain for many years now and after a car accident in 2009 it got severe enough to put me on medical leave of absence for about 2 years. I quit my real estate investing career partly bcos of this injury.

last week I came across an article in psychology today.

it basically says for some people with chronic pain the problem is no longer physical. but rather the brain getting stuck
creating the memory of physical pain.. maybe to distract yo
Brad Cramer
Feb 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting book recommended by my chiropractor. At first I thought it was kind of hokey, but the more I read the more I started to buy into the concept that most back pain is caused by suppressed anger and fear. The back pain is the mind's way of giving you something to deal with besides confronting the emotions. I've been having back pain for years and paid my chiropractor way more money that I would like. But since reading the book and using the techniques, when I have had flare ups they are ...more
Vix Southgate
Oct 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book seems to be fleshed out with repetition and case studies. It reads like a sales pitch. I agree that pain and emotion are linked and therefore this book has some benefit, as long as you don't read it as a definitive cure. Mechanical problems are real pain that can cause emotions that can heighten the pain (catch 22). But perhaps being aware of how our emotional state impacts the areas that are already weak, is something worth considering. However this book DOES NOT HEAL BACK PAIN! ...more
Deryk English
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to tell you a secret. It's one of those unbelievable stories that people sometimes tell you and you walk away having barely paid attention until you're sitting alone in near tears because of some pain and it makes no sense. That's when I want you to remember me.

This was my miracle. I had been a long time sufferer of back pain and repeatedly diagnosed with Scoliosis. When I say long time suffer, I am saying from the time I was 20 until I was over 30 I had daily non stop back pain. Most
Jerry Kaczmarowski
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit I was skeptical when I read the premise of this book. In essence, Sarno advises that the vast majority of back pain is psychosomatic. We choose to experience back pain rather than addressing the deeper psychological issues that plague us. These psychological issues can range from the important (e.g. physical abuse as a child) to the trivial (e.g. some jerk cut you off in traffic today). We would rather experience the physical back pain than deal with these often complicated issue ...more
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book gave me the tools to save myself from the chronic pain that was destroying my quality of life. I'd recommend it to everyone who has chronic pain of any form. Deal with this component of the pain to find what damage or issues is left, so it can then be dealt with appropriately is what I've told my loved ones. Might be surprised just how much is related to this issue! I was willing to do ANYTHING to quit hurting... come to find out what I needed to do was read even if it wasn't with an o ...more
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
An eye opener, analyzing back pain and many other illnesses in a completely different and sensible perspective!
Ayaan Pathan
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to find a place to shout out loud about this book and thank god for goodreads now i can do that!

First and foremost Dr. John Sarno is a god and I owe him my life, I would happily die for him. That being said here's my story:

I was diagnosed with DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease) only when i was 19 years of age, and i shook me to my core. I was devastated. The pain, the agony of back ache is beyond what I can describe, living in constant pain and unable to perform daily activities, its hop
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I got about 3/4 through this book and then moved and never picked it back up. However, the last 1/4 of the book are examples of diagnoses with Sarno's comments on its relevance to TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome). I gave the book 4 stars b/c I thought the last 1/4 was a bit redundant.

Sarno has many years of medical practice under his belt. And, thankfully, he has gone beyond textbooks and rote exercises and linked the conditions of the mind with back-pain. I do like how he has made this link. I
Tom Stamper
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I suffered a back injury in 1998 and continued to suffer pain from it until 2005 when I read this book by Dr. Sarno. That's all it took. In fact, I don't think I read more than half the book and my pain was gone. When I say pain I mean there were days when I couldn't get out of bed or drive a car. The book stopped all of that and it took years before I felt any kind of pain again. Why? Because Sarno says that back pain is really a subconscious defense mechanism against stress. Once you conscious ...more
Sherri Obermark
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Healing Back Pain is absolutely correct in describing low-back pain, and other forms of chronic pain as being tension-based, and it is created from the subconscious mind (autonomic nervous system).

I felt that this was my problem as soon as I read it, but after reading this book, and several others of Dr. Sarno's books, I was no closer to understanding how to treat it.

It took a while, but I developed a method for breaking the cycle of pain and managing negative emotions. I was pain-free in less
Deirdre Keating
Sep 27, 2008 rated it liked it
I don't suffer from back pain, thankfully, but the ideas here apply to several forms of cronic pain. Interesting theory that I might dismiss if I didn't know of so many people who felt it helped them. ...more
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Changed my life. After 9 1/2 years of chronic pain, I no longer suffer. I feel like my old self again. I have my body back! It didn't happen overnight. Took at least half of the year to fully accept and internalize. But Now I'm just as strong as I was 10 years ago! ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm pretty sure this book will change my life and ultimately have a larger impact on me than anything I've ever read. When that happens, in 4-6 weeks, I'll go back and up the rating to a 5. ...more
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a great easy-to-read book. I know people who have simply read this book and their pain disappeared. Short and snappy read. Ground breaking ideas which have proven to have helped thousands, if not millions, of people. This book moves beyond the scope of just how the mind affects the back and will provide valuable information to those with auto immune dysfunction and a myriad of other conditions.
Erika Boyer
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recovery
I am not going to say this book is particularly well-written or an easy read. It's written by a doctor in technical terms, and it's sometimes redundant. It presents some ideas that you need to have an open mind to contemplate, especially from an MD. It wasn't easy for me to take in, but I went slowly and let his ideas sink in before I did anything with it, then I read it again.

In 1993, I was in a stopped car, turning into my driveway off a highway when we were rear-ended by someone driving 78mp
Jamie Van Nuys
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't quite know how to write this.

Last week I bought this book out of sheer desperation. I barely could make the drive to the book store without crying out in pain.

I have had two back surgeries, and was seriously contemplating a 3rd (and hopefully final). I had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, DDD, a bulging disc, and nerve damage. I am only 30. I have tried everything! I lost 45 pounds, I eat well, I exercise 6 days a week, I don't lift my children or other heavy things, I did everythi
Jul 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
Yes, pain can have a mental component. But Sarno offers no systematic evidence for his particular theories. Are they even falsifiable?
Sep 23, 2012 rated it liked it
An interesting book. A friend of mine told me this book cured her long-standing back pain issue. Although I don't currently suffer from back pain, I was sufficiently intrigued to want to know more. Dr John E. Sarno identifies a condition he refers to as TMS, which stands for Tension Myositis Syndrome. In a nutshell, Sarno believes that TMS is a condition whereby some physical pain (in this case back pain) is actually caused by the subconscious mind repressing emotions. To overcome the pain, the ...more
Feb 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: chronic pain sufferers
Recommended to May by: honey o.
Shelves: non-fiction
i'm giving this book only 3 stars because the form was so poor and very repetitive. sarno spends most of his chapters defending his theory on TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome) and trashing other back pain remedies.
however the content of the book is interesting and might possibly be the cause of the current breakthrough i'm experiencing with my shoulder this week.
his point is basically that most back pain is caused by tension due to repressed emotions. all one has to do to relieve symptoms is to un
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book literally gave me my life back. I was in excruciating pain for 15 months. I was on disability from work for 6 months. I saw chiropractors, physiotherapists, sports doctors, osteopaths, I had dry needling done, acupuncture, pelvic floor therapy and I was willing to fly anywhere in the world to see a specialist. My quality of life was about a 10 out of 100. One day I searched “best back doctors in the world” because I was willing to go anywhere to get my life back. This book popped up. I ...more
Kat Lahr
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Sarno discusses his theory that TMS is a syndrome in which the disorder is benign, because there is nothing physical causes back pain. He goes into length theorizing that any physiological abnormality stems entirely from a person’s emotional process.

I found the book's premise of TMS definitely an interesting diagnosis, theory and concept. Sarno wrote this book hoping to reach younger, more open-minded medical students with his holistic, mind-body treatment of back pain, as well as
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John E. Sarno, MD was Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. He graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and was board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Sarno served in the U.S. Army Medical Department, 67th Field Hospital-European Theater from 1943 to 1946. He practiced as a family physician for ten yea ...more

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Some interesting news for book nerds: According to recent industry research, book sales spiked dramatically in 2020–otherwise a rather...
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“There's nothing like a little physical pain to keep your mind off your emotional problems.” 10 likes
“It is perfectly acceptable to have a physical problem in our culture, but people tend to shy away from anything that has to do with the emotions.” 9 likes
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