Recovering from Spinal Surgery for Back Pain: Mind/Body Perspective
Surgery is a traumatic experience that the body undergoes in order to correct an anomaly which has caused pain. But as the popular saying goes, “no pain, no gain”. You need to go through the surgery part to get to the resolution. But there’s a way to get through it more successfully.
Recovering from spinal surgery for back pain requires the conscious participation of the patient. Part of that participation is leveraging the mind/body perspective. Let’s discuss why that is.
The Mind and Body Are One Thing
Since the time of Plato, philosophers have sought to reconcile the mind/body dichotomy. Rene Descartes’ attempt is probably the best known, handing down to us the now ubiquitous statement – “cogito ergo sum” (I think therefore I am).
While Descartes localized a “connection” between the mind and body in the pineal gland, our bodies, without the brain, would be machines that didn’t work. Our brain is what allows to us think, move and be in the world as living creatures. And the human brain, with its superior cognition and reasoning abilities is the most advanced in the hierarchy of creatures.
Your mind and body work together because they are one thing. It is one reality and knowing that is powerful. So, the way our minds perceive the process is a pivotal factor in recovering from spinal surgery for back pain.
Coming Around to the Mind’s Power
When pain is experienced in the body, the brain responds, determining the manageability of the pain. When we’re experiencing stress, or feeling isolated or threatened, our brains will transmit “louder” warning messages to the body. The threat of pain and what that means to our personal integrity is amplified when psychologically challenging conditions are present.
When we’re feeling safe, comfortable and ready to take on recovery, those messages are calmed. Attention from medical professionals has a similar effect. We trust those professionals, as they dispense our care. In that trust is calm. This is even so when we’re administered placebos (non-active substances used in clinical trials to gauge the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals).
The mind is the master of items like circulation, the immune system and digestion. Via the nervous system, it’s the brain which is in command of all these vital, unconsciously achieved functions. Its role in our ability to heal is undeniable and our ability to grasp that can be a tremendous help in surgical recovery.
While there’s no question that “mind over matter” is a somewhat fantastical characterization of the brain’s function, when we’re calm, feeling cared for and not stressed out, our symptoms subside.
Being able to consciously address what’s going on in our minds is a highly desirable skill for post-surgical patients, promoting healing.
Recovery from spinal surgery for back pain: the mind/body perspective is offered as a window into how powerful your mind can be. Preparing yourself for surgery by being aware of the mind’s central role is a huge step toward a successful recovery.
Through awareness of your mental state and its impact, you’re already halfway there.
SCNJ treats all conditions of the spine. Contact us.