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Heal Your Pain Now
The Revolutionary Program to Reset Your Brain and Body for a Pain-Free Life
By Joe Tatta
Read by Ben Sullivan
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Mark was a forty-five-year-old professional who suffered with persistent pain in his neck and arm from an accident on his motorcycle more than ten years ago. He had broken a few bones and had been badly bruised, but his bumps and breaks were well healed by now—yet Mark was still in pain. We met at a party held by a mutual friend in a swanky Park Avenue apartment. The views of the city were breathtaking, the food and wine wonderful. The attendees ranged from a mix of New York's ultrasuccessful professionals to the starving artist and all those in between. But the conversations at this party, as at many I had attended before, had a theme. For me parties often turn into occasions for collecting others' stories of pain. We each have our own unique story of pain.
Once people hear I am a doctor of physical therapy and help free people from a life of pain, three questions typically follow. First, how do I get rid of this persistent pain? It might be joint pain, an old injury, or a disease. It is often disrupting to their work, personal life, and enjoyment. Second, how do I get in shape or lose weight? This is not surprising since so many of us struggle with extra weight, and the obesity epidemic not only disables our body but also cripples the health of our economy and medical system. Third, there is always someone who throws down the gauntlet in frustration or desperation and says, but I have tried everything and nothing has worked; why do I still have this pain? Mark was no different.
Mark was your average guy with a full-time job, family, and friends. He loved his job as a mediator and was passionate about teaching individuals and corporations the skills necessary to solve problems in a peaceful, amicable way. Mediators are trained and experienced in dispute resolution. I asked Mark how he successfully brought people to a peaceful conclusion around difficult issues, such as a divorce or a heated workplace dispute involving employees and employers. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said there was only one way to solve a dispute: Provide both parties with as much information as possible and then guide and facilitate them through the process until they reach a resolution. Mediation revolves around your decisions, not the mediator's. The mediator provides various solutions to help you navigate the process as you select which path you want to take, but ultimately you make the decisions.
I then asked Mark what he currently did for his pain, and he said, "Well, my doctor gave me some pills to take. I don't like to take them too often because they don't make me feel very good, but I need them. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting addicted to them and stop taking them, but I eventually wind up going back. The doctors say surgery can't help me as the fractures healed well. I try to stay active because I know it's good for me, but I just can't seem to work out the way I used to! It's like I need to start all over again from square one some weeks. And I notice I am putting on weight. I should start running! That will take the weight off, right?"
Mark's wasn't the only story I encountered that night. There was someone with arthritis in her knee who kept overdoing it, a former Olympic gymnast wearing a back brace, a sales rep with crippling carpal tunnel syndrome, and someone recently diagnosed with lupus. By the way, no one at the party was over the age of fifty.
"So, how do you help people in pain?" Mark asked.
"Well, I like to provide them with as much information as possible and then guide them through the process until they feel happy with their outcome," I replied.
Health and wellness have been constant themes in my life. When I was three years old, I started participating in gymnastics, and the healthy habits I learned at that young age were imprinted for a lifetime. Excelling in a sport that requires physical skill and mental determination taught me a lot, triggered my interest, and sparked my lifelong passion to help others achieve optimal health.
I was also fortunate to be raised and inspired by a great mom who was also a nurse. Growing up, I was intrigued by the medical texts and journals lying around the house. The seeds for health care were planted in me at a young age. However, my mom influenced me in more ways than one to pursue a path of helping people in pain. Just when I was old enough to realize how strong my mother was, I watched her struggle with illness. She worked at a hospital on the adolescent cancer floor. Most of her patients were between the ages of five and fifteen and were terminally ill with cancer. She worked the night shift from two to eight a.m., taking care of children in need, only to come home and take care of her own children, husband, and home—and she was juggling it all! However, the stress of being a caregiver to many can take its toll. Studies have shown us that caregivers have increased markers of stress hormones and inflammatory proteins circulating throughout their blood, and that can impact almost every system in the body.
One day Mom arrived home from work, just as I was heading out to school. She looked spent and her eyes were filled with tears. In her arms she held a picture sketched of a little boy on a go-cart, drawn by one of her favorite patients. She had borne the stress of working as a nurse on the night shift and sleeping at odd hours, and like many caregivers, her health suffered. She had digestive issues, fatigue, bounced between anxiety and depression, and was in pain—both physically and emotionally. Like most who struggle with chronic pain, she was in the prime of her life with responsibilities of house, work, and family. She worried not only about her health but also about those around her and saw her life slipping away. With the help of a friend, she chartered a new path back to health and transformed herself, using principles similar to those in this book. She rebounded, reeducated, and reengaged with life and went on to become the vice president of nursing for one of the largest home-care agencies in New York. And if you met her today, you would see a vibrant, strong, and beautiful woman, enjoying her retirement. However, witnessing my mom's experience left a mark and an undying curiosity in me as to what is the best way to help people in pain. The one advantage she had was education. She overcame her pain, and you can, too, with the information you will discover in this book.
My career as a doctor of physical therapy has exposed me to a variety of patients. My first job was in adult rehabilitation, where I helped people recover from strokes, joint replacements, neurologic diseases, and amputations. This was a rewarding experience, although I knew a hospital was not the right fit for me. I saw firsthand the complexities of our medical system and realized the majority of people needed support before they reached the rehabilitation stage. After working for a few years with athletes and backstage with Broadway dancers, I found myself working for one of the largest outpatient physical therapy practices in New York City. Here I not only treated people with pain but also managed the training process for new doctors of physical therapy hired, as well as doctoral interns from more than forty schools. This program encompasses my twenty-plus years of experience and training in physical therapy, nutrition, and functional medicine as well as the years of lessons learned from the thousands of patients I have healed and clinicians with whom I have trained and collaborated.
The Current State of Pain
If you struggle with persistent pain, you understand how it can impact your life. We live in a world full of pain—and many of the high-tech procedures and pills used fail those in pain. Women are more likely to suffer with a chronic pain condition than are men. Pain is the most common reason for a visit to a doctor of physical therapy, and pain in its myriad of forms consistently ranks as the #1 or #2 reason for visiting a primary care physician. The numbers on pain are staggering:
• Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans—that is more than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined!
• 90 percent of Americans will have back pain at least once in their life and 30 percent will go on to have chronic back pain.
• An estimated 52.5 million US adults (about 1 in 5) report having doctor-diagnosed arthritis. As the US population ages, the number of adults with arthritis is expected to increase sharply to 67 million by 2030.
• 50 million Americans have an autoimmune disorder, which causes pain. There are more than 80 autoimmune diseases for which pain is a major symptom.
• 30 million have diabetes.
• 30 million live with irritable bowel disease.
• 20 million Americans live with mood disorders.
• About 5 million people are affected by fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition.
• 1 million deal with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Pain is everywhere and your pain is real. Quite often it's overwhelming, intimidating, and, at times, downright terrifying. We take our health for granted, until a physical limitation inhibits our regular, everyday movement. Then suddenly we are so completely aware of our pain and immobility that it becomes all-consuming. Perhaps you suffer from serious back pain and can no longer easily bend down to pick up an item you've dropped on the floor, so you stop trying altogether and you begin to lose even more flexibility. Or maybe you have a knee injury that causes you to limp when you walk, and you unconsciously stop bending your knee normally out of fear that it will ache. Or possibly you have one of the more than eighty autoimmune disorders that can affect multiple joints and multiple organ systems at once. If you are experiencing pain like this, it can be debilitating, and you may have quit exercising entirely, which has likely just made you feel worse and even more helpless.
The Pain/Weight-Gain Connection
Many of those people suffering with pain are also struggling with weight issues. Being overweight is a risk factor for a host of diseases—all which have the awful effect of pain. Arthritis, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, diabetes, heart disease, and neurological and musculoskeletal diseases all contribute to the persistent pain syndromes and are higher in those who are overweight or obese. More than two thirds of Americans (245 million people) are overweight or obese. This nation is overweight and in pain, and it is physically, economically, and emotionally crippling us. The statistics are alarming and have a deep and lasting impact on our families, community, economy, and society:
• More than 2 in 3 adults are overweight; more than 1 in 3 adults are obese.
• More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity.
• About 69 percent or 215 million Americans are overweight, with more than 78 million adult Americans considered obese.
• Chronic pain type syndromes are the most common cause of long-term disability—and obesity rates for adults with disabilities are 58 percent higher than for adults without disabilities.
Pain and weight gain are intimately connected: Persistent pain leads you to become more sedentary, avoiding the discomfort you now associate with moving your body. The longer you are immobile, the more weight you will gain. Fat begins to accumulate around your belly in toxic layers, sabotaging your efforts to be healthy. The steady addition of 10, 20, 30—even 100-plus—pounds of extra weight makes it harder to move, so you remain inactive, resignedly watching the scale creep higher.
Persistent pain is a modern plague holding you captive. This often leads to unresolved feelings around the experience of pain and toward those involved. You may feel there is nothing you can do, you hold grievances, and believe only a miracle can save you. Your pain is very real, and you are not imagining it.
Nutrition, Movement, and the Brain: A Three-Step Functional Medicine Approach
As a doctor of physical therapy, I began my career with an intense focus on the structure and function of the human form. The health of our joints, strength and flexibility, and teaching healthy movement were the primary modalities I used. Movement is necessary to live a healthy, pain-free life and to manage weight. However, certain patients would fail, struggle, or plateau. I noticed the world around me changing… or should I say getting bigger and more painful. I saw where the real need existed—those struggling with persistent pain. I also saw that movement alone could not cure the problem.
Surplus weight and obesity were strong contributing factors to my patients' struggles with pain, and I began implementing proper nutrition in a more integrative approach to patient care. Combining healthy movement with nutritional strategies is not new and has been shown to help not only patients with persistent pain but also many chronic diseases. But even with the best nutrition and exercise advice, pain can persist. As I worked with patients, it became apparent to me that something was missing: the integration of how our brain, thoughts, and emotions influenced our pain. Mastery of one's mind-set was needed with many clients. They lived with attack thoughts that hindered their full potential for recovery. Later, my study of functional medicine further solidified my integration of movement, nutrition, and the mind into a treatment paradigm. This is not an equal one-third movement, one-third nutrition, one-third cognitive-training program. This is a framework you can follow as a guide, and you may require more emphasis in one area than another.
You Are Your Best Advocate
We have a large body of evidence-based medicine and research to support the foundation of this program. Almost 90 percent of the chronic conditions people struggle with that are treated by clinicians can be overcome by simple and inexpensive means. Behavior changes associated with diet, exercise, lifestyle, and mind-set have revealed dramatic and lasting effects. Health promotion—proactive healthy habits and preventive care—will be the way we heal in the future, as it occurs before disease takes hold. The most rapid way to transform your health and resolve your pain begins with providing you with the tools to succeed. In the old world you relied on the man in the white coat to help you "fix" the problem. In the new world your ability to collect, synthesize, and apply the necessary information related to your pain will be the fastest way to healing. This may require some energy, but it will save you time, effort, money, and pain (literally and figuratively).
When I tell patients my job is merely that of a teacher and coach, I often receive blank stares or raised eyebrows. One patient replied, "Well, you're a doctor—isn't there some way you can fix me?" Our society really has no formal system for teaching us about how to live a healthy life. Sure, schools have some basic health education classes but not nearly the amount needed to shift the trend of chronic disease. Most of us know more about how our cell phones work than the body we live in. But the more actively involved you become in your own treatment program with regard to what you choose to put into your body, how you move your body, and your thought patterns during recovery, the more you will achieve positive results. This book creates a path for you to begin the journey toward healing your pain. For some your journey will be fast and your pain will be healed now; for others you will have to spend some time cultivating the habits in your life that will alleviate your pain. By the end of this book, you will see that not just one thing is responsible for your pain. Your pain is as unique as you are.
Reversing Pain and Weight Gain
What if you could eliminate your pain and shed those additional pounds in the process? What if you could actually start to feel better? In Heal Your Pain Now, I'll show you how to regain control of your health by breaking the cycle of persistent pain and resistant weight loss. In Heal Your Pain Now, you'll discover:
• How to lose 7 to 10 pounds in only 3 weeks
• What is missing from your diet, what to add back into your diet, and how it can help alleviate pain and resistant weight loss
• How to optimize your nutrition with therapeutic and anti-inflammatory foods (Hint: almonds, broccoli, wild salmon, and spinach are a few.)
• The key concepts of a good physical therapy and exercise program
• How to overcome Sedentary Syndrome
• How to burn the most fat in the shortest amount of time
• That quite often "pain is in your brain" and not in your body
• Cognitive retraining exercises to unlearn your pain
• Why your emotions can perpetuate pain
• Meal plans, shopping lists, and recipes to support you throughout the Healing Pain Program
You can live a healthy, pain-free, and active life by following the principles of the Healing Pain Program. If you struggle with chronic pain and are overweight, stressed out, fatigued, and depressed, the Healing Pain Program provides the concrete solutions so that you can finally shed the weight, alleviate the pain, and lead an active and fulfilling life.
The Beginning of the End for Pain
The Healing Pain Program is designed to reset your brain and body for a pain-free life. I recommend you read all chapters in sequence to learn as much as you can about your pain and how to heal it. If you have lived with persistent pain, you will benefit most from engaging with each chapter and applying the lessons learned to your life. Set aside time each day to complete some reading—make notes on the pages if needed! This is a guide to help you heal, move again, and live pain-free. Enlist a friend or family member to support you or read the book together. Working with a support group will help you, and others can hold you accountable to keep you on track. You can join my healing pain support group by visiting www.drjoetatta.com/group.
The Healing Pain Program will accelerate your ability to heal. I have spent my entire career treating people who are in pain. They now once again lead fulfilled and active lives and enjoy living without pain. The benefits you will receive from implementing the changes will not only optimize your health but also reduce your pain and the number on the scale. Your opportunity to make the transformation and to take back your life and health is here. Your time is now. It is an honor to take this journey with you, and I look forward to hearing your story of pain and how you reset your brain and body for a pain-free life!
Beginning the Healing Pain Program
RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR A RESTART
That you are reading this book suggests you have already realized that it's time for a change. Living day in and day out with persistent pain is not a lifestyle. Chances are you were not born this way. Pain was not a constant in your life and extra weight was not a problem. You were probably born healthy, explored your environment, moved about with ease as a child, and never thought about physical limitations.
Unfortunately, this may no longer be how you feel or who you are. You have lost your identity and self, due to pain. If you are like most, you have seen the numbers on the scale progressively increase and felt your clothes become tighter. It has become more difficult to move and negotiate through daily life. As the number on the scale has risen, so has your pain scale number. Some days it's a 5/10, and others it's a 9/10, and you can barely function. Pain has permeated every facet of your life. Basic activities around the home are more difficult, exercise is minimal and intimidating, friendships are less connected, and the amount of time it takes to perform routine tasks is time consuming and energy draining. You're not alone. In fact, in many ways you are part of the majority. When did the United States become a nation in pain?
Many people have struggled with persistent pain for years. We are rapidly becoming aware of the global impact on our health and ability, and we now know that certain "comorbidities" or conditions become additional problems for the overweight and obese. Persistent pain and the multitude of pain-type syndromes are highly correlated with obesity. Reducing your weight is an important factor and often the fastest way to alleviating your pain.
Do you really have to live in pain and lose the ability to be physically active or perform daily activities? Do you have to gain weight just because you've turned thirty, forty, or fifty? No. Absolutely not! You do not have to live your life in pain and overweight. Don't believe the myth that as you get older, you will get heavier and everything will hurt. There is no reason you shouldn't be able to walk up a flight of stairs, lift groceries, or squat down to play with your child. Belly fat is not a badge of honor for entering middle age. This myth is completely false, and if you follow the suggestions and protocols of the Healing Pain Program as outlined in this book, you can live a vital and fit life well into your later years. This chapter will explore the intrinsic link between pain and weight gain and how you can conquer both, using an integrated functional medicine approach that simultaneously focuses on nutrition, movement, and mind training. It's time to end the struggle and restart your life!
The Growth of Obesity
Obesity is a condition whereby excessive fat tissue accumulates and is usually diagnosed by using weight and height to calculate body mass index, or BMI. A person can have a low, normal, overweight, or obese BMI. A BMI greater than 40 is considered morbidly obese. About 3.5 percent of Americans are morbidly obese, which does not sound like a high number until you realize that it translates to about 12.5 million people. It's as if every person who lives in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia is morbidly obese.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 39 percent of adults globally are overweight and 13 percent are obese. In the United States, the rates of obesity are known to exceed those in the rest of the world, with 69 percent of Americans overweight and 35 percent obese. Obesity is also a significant risk factor for a host of medical problems, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems, and mood disorders. All this extra weight is a leading reason why people live with persistent pain.
Pain and Suffering
Pain is associated with a wide range of injury and disease, and can be a disease by itself. Millions suffer with chronic pain each day, and the effects of pain place a tremendous financial burden on their nation in health-care costs and lost worker productivity, as well as the emotional and financial burden it places on patients, families, and communities. People often miss work because of back pain, headaches, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Adults with persistent pain are more likely to have poorer health, rely on health care, and suffer from greater disability than those with less pain.
Pain has become a problem for almost every facet of the US population, including children and baby boomers—the fastest growing segment of the population. Each day, ten thousand boomers turn sixty-five years old, adding to our growing elderly population. Persistent pain does increase with age, particularly joint pain and painful neuralgias. People are as desperate for solutions to their pain as they are to their weight gain. The following chart depicts the number of chronic pain sufferers compared to other major health conditions.
Double Trouble: Obesity and Pain
There is a definitive link between excess weight and painful conditions, such as osteoarthritis, spinal and joint pain, autoimmune disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. It is now clear that mechanical (the body's physical makeup), metabolic (the internal chemical reactions), and psychosocial factors (behavior, environment, and lifestyle) all have significant contributing and lasting effects on this chronic health problem. The lifestyle you lead directly impacts your ability to live healthy or live in pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, losing 15 pounds may decrease knee pain by 50 percent. Just as weight gain causes more pain, weight loss reduces pain. You have the power to increase or decrease your pain—and it's tied directly to your weight.
There is no doubt that as we have gained weight, so, too, have we carried more pain. Studies from the early 1990s point to one in seven people struggling with persistent pain, whereas more recent studies now support a much higher percentage: Almost 25 percent of us live with persistent pain. As our obesity epidemic has risen, so, too, have the levels of pain we carry.
The obesity-pain connection is a serious public health concern for our society. In an article in the Journal of Epidemiology, researchers surveyed 1,010,762 people, calculating their BMI (measure of body fat) and asked them the following two questions: "1) Did you experience pain yesterday; and 2) In the last 12 months, have you had any neck or back condition that caused recurring pain, knee or leg condition that caused recurring pain, or other condition that caused recurring pain?" A definitive association between BMI classification and pain emerged. This study indicated that for each BMI class greater than Low through Normal, a higher probability of pain existed. The authors reported that as BMI increased so did pain, with 20 percent more pain in the Overweight group, 68 percent more in Obese I, 136 percent in Obese II, and 254 percent in Obese III. It's important to note that the sample size of this study was greater than a million people, which is very large; most studies typically involve fewer than one hundred subjects. The data linking persistent pain and extra weight is significant.
"This book will help people who suffer from chronic pain from conditions such as fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease, musculoskeletal injury, obesity, or any persistent pain state. Dr. Joe Tatta has written a blueprint to resolve pain using integrated, functional, medicine principles. I recommend this book and the Healing Pain Program."
—Mark Hyman, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet
"We've been approaching pain all wrong. The solution doesn't come in a bottle; it comes by taking control of your health. Dr. Tatta provides a simple, easy-to-implement strategy that helps you break free from pain and live the life you deserve."
—JJ Virgin, New York Times bestselling author of JJ Virgin's Sugar Impact Diet and the Virgin Diet
"Dr. Tatta is a rare breed of physical therapist, nutritionist, and functional medicine practitioner. This book provides easy, effective strategies and natural strategies for those who want to heal their pain."
—Dr. Alan Christianson, New York Times bestselling author of The Adrenal Reset Diet
"If persistent pain is holding you hostage, let Dr. Joe Tatta show you how to break free! Through his amazing Healing Pain Program, he's helped thousands of people reclaim their lives--and now it's your turn."
—Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, New York Times bestselling author of Dr. Kellyann's Bone Broth Diet and host of the Public Television Special "21 Days to a Slimmer, Younger You"
"At last - a must read book for those who struggle with pain. Heal Your Pain Now mindfully brings readers through an amazing healing journey. Dr. Tatta shows you how emotions and thoughts are right at the core of your pain experience. He outlines practical and concrete ways you can use the power of your mind to reverse pain. This book is also a much needed resource for health care professionals who want to help patients successfully cope and thrive!"
—Dr. Susan Albers, New York Times bestselling author of Eat.Q.
"Dr. Tatta has compiled a trove of the latest information about pain. More importantly, he has distilled this information into an evidence-based program that has helped many people overcome their pain. I highly recommend this book."
—Howard Schubiner, MD, author of Unlearn Your Pain and Unlearn Your Anxiety and Depression; Providence Hospital, Southfield, MI
- On Sale
- Feb 7, 2017
- Hachette Audio