Dr Nick Straiton - Back Pain Physician

For 14 years I had been working in the NHS for the Back Pain Service at the local hospital. I have always been interested in psychosomatic medicine and a few years ago a psychotherapist colleague introduced me to Dr Sarno's books. His description of the frustration of working in a hospital environment where high tech investigations and treatment strategies fail to alleviate many people suffering from back pain mirrored exactly my own experience .

I became fascinated by his approach and eventually went out to New York to sit in at his clinics at the Rusk institute in order to learn first hand the process that he uses to diagnose and treat patients with TMS. This experience was truly valuable and enriching to the degree that I would say that my practice has changed significantly since that time.

I believe that many, but not all, of patients suffering with chronic back pain are manifesting emotional distress through a physical symptom and for any long lasting relief to be achieved the factors relevant to this distress need to be recognised and addressed.

Dr Sarno has written many books on this subject and I would certainly recommend these if you suspect that your symptoms may have an emotional basis. 'Healing back Pain' is a good starting point and this can be found on Amazon.

Dr Sarno's pioneering work precipitated a resurgence of interest in the diagnosis and treatment of stress related illness particularly in the USA where a number of physicians have continued the work in this field. @06 was set up by a group of physicians interested in this approach to stress related illness.

Recommended Books:

Pathways to Pain Relief by Frances Sommer Anderson PhD and Eric Sherman PsyD. A book for therapists and the public summarizing decades of experience diagnosing and treating PPD. Available in paperback or for the Amazon Kindle (or Kindle app).

They Can't Find Anything Wrong! by David Clarke, MD.
Uses dozens of case histories to illustrate the many hidden life stresses that can cause physical symptoms. Discusses effective treatment techniques in detail. All author profits are donated to the PPD Association.

Unlearn Your Pain by Howard Schubiner, MD.
Reversing chronic pain is possible by understanding its underlying cause. This book explains that most pain is due to learned nerve pathways. It helps you determine if you have PPD and how to cure your pain with a revolutionary step-by-step process.

Back in Control: A Spine Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain by David Hanscom, M.D. he is an orthopedic spine surgeon who trained in orthopedic surgery at the University of Hawaii. His spine fellowship was in complex adult and pediatric spinal deformity. He completed it in 1986 at the Twin Cities Scoliosis Center in Minneapolis, MN. He currently practices at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, WA. He is a member of Swedish Neuroscience Specialists and has eight neurosurgical partners.

A large part of his practice is to salvage situations in which patients have undergone multiple failed attempts at surgery. A consistent theme is that the first operation should never have been.


Pain always is perceived in your brain. Unless pain centers in your brain are stimulated you will not feel pain. “Back in Control” looks at both the source of the pain and the brain as relevant. The nervous system aspect is viewed in terms of pathways not psychology. Once a pain pathway is formed it is permanent. The solution is to utilize methods that create “detours” around these established circuits. With engagement the decrease in pain is consistent.

It is important to “calm down” the nervous system in addition to creating the new pathways. “Back in Control” offers many specific tools as well as illustrative stories to learn these methods. The author is a spine surgeon who has found relief from chronic pain. It was from sharing his own journey with his patients that this whole process evolved.

The reader will also gain an understanding regarding the role of spine surgery. Surgery is only indicated for a clearly identifiable structural problem with matching symptoms. It is not helpful for generalized back pain.

"The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep."
Henry Maudsley

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