“We tend to get what we expect.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Allow me to be blunt. I have helped literally tens of thousands of people from around the world overcome back pain and sciatica. I have failed to help many thousands more. And almost always the difference lies in the attitude, expectations, and willingness of the person I’m trying to help to actually be helped.
One might reasonably think if someone asks for help, that they are prepared to take action on the advice given in response. For example, by reading this very article you’ve indicated you would like information on how to get rid of lower back pain.
So what separates those who take action and achieve success from those who will not? Belief.
No, this isn’t an Amway convention. But Mr. Peale was right when he said we get what we expect. That’s because our belief drives our actions. If we believe we can overcome chronic lower back pain we’re much more likely to implement the advice given. If we do not believe the advice will work for us, we’ll either give it only a half-hearted attempt then blame the advisor or technique when it fails to deliver the results we would like, or we won’t even try at all.
This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky concept without impact on the physical world of back pain either. It’s a proven fact that even with chronic lower back pain treatments our expectations and attitudes directly affect the outcome. Literally.
Take a just published five-year study of over 700 patients diagnosed with subacute or chronic lower back pain as an example. Patients were randomly assigned to either a standard advice and treatment from their general practitioner, or the standard advice and treatment from their general practitioner plus six group sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy.
In layman’s terms, both groups got standard medical treatment for their lower back pain but the second group also atteneded six sessions of group therapy with the primary goal of “patient education to counter negative beliefs about lower back pain.” The only difference between the two groups is the second group was taught how to change their attitude about their back pain and prospects of recovery.
End result? The second group experienced measurably increased lower back pain relief and freedom from disability than the control group. Other studies have repeatedly found the same impact of emotional thoughts and beliefs on physical pain and recovery.
So if you want to accomplish any goal, including relieving your lower back pain, you first need to believe that you can achieve it. You don’t have to sit in a group therapy session, but if that’s what it takes for you then it’s probably worth it to end your back pain, right?
Here’s the bottom line. If you want to change the way your lower back, and indeed your whole world, feels then consider putting this final word of advice from Mr. Peale into practice:
“Change your thoughts, and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Lamb, SE. Group cognitive behavioural treatment for low-back pain in primary care: a randomised controlled trial and cost-effectiveness analysis. The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 26 February 2010.
KrÃ¶ner-Herwig B. Chronic pain syndromes and their treatment by psychological interventions. Current opinion in psychiatry. 2009 Mar;22(2):200-4.
Lindell O, Johansson SE, Strender LE. Subacute and chronic, non-specific back and neck pain: cognitive-behavioural rehabilitation versus primary care. A randomized controlled trial. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. 2008 Dec 30;9:172.
Smeets RJ, et al. Treatment expectancy and credibility are associated with the outcome of both physical and cognitive-behavioral treatment in chronic low back pain. The Clinical journal of pain. 2008 May;24(4):305-15.