For over 26 years, I’ve had patients tell me that their problem is their pain.
It makes sense to them that their actual pain is their problem and they want it gone. But what they think is not accurate at all.
One of the most difficult conversations to have with a patient, who has been suffering with chronic pain, is to tell them that their pain is not their problem.
Sometimes they immediately think they picked the wrong doctor after I say that. And I get that, because very few people truly know the difference between their pain and their problem.
What happens is, people combine those two words together to mean the same thing. How can two different words found on two different pages of the dictionary have the same meaning?
That’s right, they don’t.
Now before I share with you the true meaning of pain, I want to help you understand how important it is to sort this out.
Imagine going through your whole life making decisions on incorrect data. What if you thought red and green traffic lights both meant go? Obviously not a good outcome if that’s what you really thought was true. The key here is the OUTCOME. Getting tickets, getting in accidents, and worse, would be the negative outcomes. If something isn’t giving you the outcome you want or need, you must find and understand why that’s the case.
Even if other people are making the same mistake, you must ask why.
You need to do your homework and find out for yourself actually what green and red traffic lights mean because they can’t mean the same thing based on the outcomes.
So what is pain if it’s not the problem?
Pain IS simply a symptom. What is a symptom?
Webster’s defines the word symptom as an indicator of something else. It indicates that a problem exists, but, it in itself, is not the problem. It’s very straightforward but every patient I have ever had has not understood this. They all default to their understanding of symptom being problem.
The reason they don’t understand this is because my patients, in particular, are dealing with very serious degenerative or herniated spinal discs that have caused them to suffer with months, years or decades of pain and other symptoms. It’s this long-standing intimate relationship with pain that in their mind becomes their “problem” because it is what they feel, experience and know.
Now at this point you might be thinking you know better than that. You know there is a root cause. You say to yourself that you know your pain is not your problem…right?
Well, if that’s you, then I have a pop quiz just for you.
Here’s the deal. When I ask you this one question quiz, picture yourself sitting with me in my office. We are in my consultation room and I have your file with all the paperwork you filled out in it. Your complete history and current situation is in my hands. I am wearing my long white doctor’s coat and I am looking over your file and all your forms. I take my glasses off and ask you this question (pop quiz).
Now when you read this question make sure you experience it as if I was actually with you asking you specifically this question and simply answer it now as you would if we were in person. Ready? Here it is?
What problem do you have?
Don’t read ahead…answer the question for real.
“What is your problem?”
Your response is: _______________________________________
I asked you this question a few different ways to stall you a bit and make sure you didn’t skip ahead. This quiz is actually the initial question doctors start out with in a real consultation.
Did you answer the question?
If you did, it has been my clinical experience that after a patient and I have this conversation about symptoms not being the problem and they say they understand that, I then pop this question on them: “what is your problem?” They inevitably tell me their symptoms! It happens every time without fail.
Did you do it too?
Did you see that? You first told me that there was a root cause to your symptoms and you further assured me you understood your symptoms were not your problem. Then when I quizzed you and asked you the direct question of “what is your problem?” You immediately told me your symptoms that you were experiencing.
You, like everyone else, are programmed so deeply that even an honest, agreeable conversation of symptoms not being problems goes out the window in no time flat when tested.
The correct answer to the quiz is: “I don’t know my problem. I only know my symptoms.”
Sometimes this becomes a bit abstract, and the brain struggles with this symptom vs. problem understanding.
So let’s use a great analogy to make the point even more clear.
You are driving on a cross-country vacation and the engine light comes on in your dash. Is that a problem? I mean, is the actual light bulb that is on, shining at you, the problem?
Again, Is the indicator light the problem?
Absolutely not, you are correct! Now, does the engine light tell us specifically what the problem in the engine is? It does not tell us what the problem is so we cannot make a diagnosis by the symptom of the engine light being on.
- What if the engine light goes off? What does that mean?
- What if comes on and off? What does that mean?
- What if your car is old? What does that mean?
- What if you mom or dads car engine light used to come on? What does that mean?
- What if everyone you know at some time had his or her engine light come on? What does that mean?
It means nothing unless you put a meaning on it. Which would not be accurate. It would just be a viewpoint, guess, or something you heard someone say about a similar situation.
What would happen to your car if there were only a place that specialized in putting black tape over the “problem” of the engine light?
ANOTHER BIG QUESTION:
What would happen to your car if you decided on a different facility that specialized in cutting the wire to your “problem” light bulb?
LAST BIG QUESTION:
What would happen to your car if you took it to the biggest, most prestigious facility where they had the skills to permanently remove the “problem bulb”?
And all of this was done because this is how its always been done. It is the Standard of Care for an engine light “bulb problem.”
How sad it would be to be fooled like this. What’s really sad is that your car insurance made it real easy for you to do the wrong thing for your car, because all those unnecessary and wrong choices of just treating the SYMPTOM were covered 100% by your car insurance.
What did that get you? What was your outcome?
Unfortunately, when you treat symptoms as problems and aim to remove the symptoms – you get the worst outcomes possible, and ultimately make things worse. It’s your responsibility to know and apply treatments that address the problem, and not just treat the symptom of the problem.
That’s why I created The Disc Institute® and our exclusive IntraDiscNutrosis®. We treat the underlying problem that’s causing the disc to go bad. When you do this, healing occurs, conditions get better, and you feel better…..naturally.
In my next post I will reveal something even more profound that people horribly mistake as the “problem”. It’s the biggest Blind Spot yet. You won’t believe it until you see it. Even the best doctors and surgeons get this completely wrong. They did in the case of Tiger Woods and I will reveal it next time we meet.
Dr. Joseph Mannela
Founder & CEO