Reviewed by Heidi Boudro
The three best books that I've found about chronic pain differ in approach but agree in basic premise: to heal rather than medicate. Those who claim that pain can be treated only with drugs and surgery--despite all evidence that drugs and surgery do not resolve chronic pain--are unfamiliar with the research that shows that diet, nutrition, avoidance of toxins, sauna, and massage do resolve pain, often dramatically.
The most comprehensive of the three books is Pain Free in 6 Weeks by Sherry A. Rogers, M.D. (Prestige Publishing). This book emphasizes the similarity of all kinds of pain and is organized by treatment, such as diets, supplements, sauna, and lifestyle change.
"Pain is designed to facilitate healing," Dr. Rogers writes. But healing is finite. "It has an end, as opposed to chronic inflammation that perpetuates the chemical messages of pain." All chronic pain is inflammation and toxicity; the source of any individual's inflammation and toxicity can be identified and resolved. She provides checklists of what to try and in what order, based on research (hundreds of references) and experience.
Neal Barnard, M.D.'s Foods That Fight Pain: Revolutionary New Strategies for Maximum Pain Relief is a positive, encouraging book organized by type of pain (migraine, arthritis, back pain, kidney stones, etc.). An engaging summary of the research (hundreds of references) for each condition presents the foods shown most often to be triggers and the nutrition shown to help. Dr. Barnard also presents the pain-free foods (foods never associated with pain in any research study), aspects of diet that heal pain and disease, and information about diets that everyone could profit by being familiar with. These diets include Dr. Dean Ornish's diet to reverse arteriosclerosis and the macrobiotic diet often used to treat cancer and chronic disease.
The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) is by massage therapist Clair Davies, who recounts his interesting personal story as an introduction to his uniquely useful book. A trigger point is "a small contraction knot in muscle tissue" that develops in predictable places in muscles in response to various traumas and "refers" pain in predictable patterns. Studies suggest, Davies writes, "that trigger points are a component of up to 93 percent of the pain seen in pain clinics, and the sole cause of such pain as much as 85 percent of the time."
In my experience, specialist M.D.'s know about trigger points but consider them untreatable. In contrast, Davies shows how to eliminate trigger points--and the pain they cause--with massage. He shows in a very organized way, through instructions and illustrations that are a model of clarity, how to do this yourself.
The differing approaches in these three excellent books simply means that anyone with chronic pain will benefit from all three books.
Copyright © 2006 by Heidi Boudro