Dr. Peter Abaci pain doctor who realized that this primary methods of pain relief (injections, pain meds, surgery) weren’t really helping people and in many cases his patients ended up in more pain rather than less. He shares his drug-free approach to conquering chronic pain.
I was given a copy of this book free by the publisher. All opinions are my own and shared freely.
Conquer Your Chronic Pain: A Life-Changing Drug-Free Approach for Relief, Recovery, and Restoration by Peter Abaci is pretty much exactly what the title says.
Dr. Abaci shares how he went through his residency focused on providing instantaneous pain relief, focused on the symptoms rather than the cause. They give injections and pain meds but they don’t really think about the patient as a whole or how a treatment might affect them down the road. He realized that the treatments he was taught to use were good for a “quick fix”, but they were not good at reducing pain in the long-term, or eliminating pain.
When I first read the term “pain brain” in this book the alarm bells went off in my head. The alarms that say “he’s about to tell us it’s all in our heads… that we just have to change the way we think and everything will be OK.”
I’m happy to say that he didn’t go there. Instead he took the time to really explain what he meant and the science about how pain does affect the brain. Pain actually changes our brain and that’s what he’s referring to when he uses the term “pain brain.” He discusses how to treat and heal the pain brain. The brain must be physically restructured – which can be done. Our brains constantly restructure themselves, as we learn, as we have experiences. It makes sense that pain restructures our brains as well, and it makes sense that we can change that structure.Chronic pain is a body issue that causes physical changes to the brain. @PeterAbaci Click To Tweet
“Pain brain is the remodeling of the brain into an irritated, sensitive, inflamed, and beaten-down version of itself that must be overcome that you can successfully conquer your chronic pain.” – Peter Abaci
After taking plenty of time to explain the “pain brain”, Dr. Abaci launches into his plan – The Abaci Plan. He focuses on five key elements that must be restored – mobility, social interaction, independence, validation, and love. He has eight core approaches to restoring these elements.
- Finding Calm in the Storm – Learning how to calm the nervous system and thus turning down the pain signals.
- Reframing Harmful thoughts – “Learning how to set aside catastrophic thinking, anger, fear, and other forms of negative thinking can lessen your experience of pain.”
- Igniting Creativity – art and music can act as medicine and help heal the brain.
- Using the Medicine of Movement – focusing on movements that you can do despite the pain that will decrease the pain.
- Ingesting Quality – certain foods can increase or decrease pain through increased inflammation. Weight gain can also lead to increased pain, therefore changing what you eat can reduce pain.
- Re-Charging – finding a return of good sleep can go a long way to improving pain.
- Gaining Treatment Perspective – What’s in the best interest of the doctor is not always in your best interest as a patient.
- Mastering Time – Using time wisely (aka pacing)
The best way to control pain is to accept the changes in your life, let go of negative feelings, grieve for your losses if necessary, and then move ahead. Developing realistic expectations about traditional medical treatments can also… Click To Tweet
Each of the above is just a piece of the puzzle and within each puzzle piece are smaller pieces. Dr. Abaci gives an overview of how he approaches each of these within his practice. Unfortunately, without access to his practice or an intensive pain management practice like it (which most of us don’t have) it can be difficult to wade through all of these pieces.
As I read the book I realized that I have been wading through these pieces on my own for the last four years. I learned on my own that I needed to change my diet, that movement was crucial and even than being creative helped me feel better. Re-framing my thought is a constant struggle and one that I’ve had to get help with from professionals, but it was worth the effort. Mindfulness practice has allowed me to find the calm in the storm. Staying positive isn’t a cure but it certainly makes living with whatever we have to face a lot easier.Staying positive isn't a cure but it certainly makes living with whatever we have to face easier. Click To Tweet
Overall, this is an excellent book, that I’d recommend reading. It’s filled with great advice. As you read the book you really get the feeling that Dr. Abaci gets it. He’s not just another pain management doctor seeking to shuffle us through his office, nor is he in any way blaming the patients for their pain. Throughout the book he shares patient stories (including his own), giving you a feeling that he really cares about his patients and even about those of us he’s not met.
I do worry that some readers will get frustrated when they read this book at the overviews of the treatments that don’t provide guides for those of us who don’t have a treatment facility near us – those of us who will have to shuffle through the pieces on our own. My advice to those readers is to not let all the pieces overwhelm you, just take them one by one. Start with the one that seems the easiest to you as you read it. As you master one, the others will become easier. And, any small change is a good one.
And, Dr. Abaci if you are reading this, please consider creating a home-based program that patients can follow to get a handle on each of these steps without having to come to you.