Pain Neuroscience Wisdom from a 19th Century Electrical Engineer

History is full of stories that teach timeless wisdom. Sometimes these stories provide a glimpse into the problem solving prowess of a genius that can remind us to imitate the same approach. One of my favorites is the below story of Charles Steinmetz’s interaction with Henry Ford.
Charles Proteus Steinmetz, the Wizard of Schenectady
(adapted from Smithsonian Magazine 8…

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Facing Fear and Finding Safety

For far too long I have undervalued the importance of acknowledging fear in the lives of patients with pain. I have always given fear the token head nod, acknowledging its presence; but my lack of deeper understanding has caused many missed opportunities for treatment. Facing fear is to embrace fear with the intention to disrupt it. This blog considers two…

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Finding Fear

Another Halloween has come and gone. Thousands of people paid for the experience to find fear. Frightening movies, haunted houses, and spooky trails are designed to create a sense of terror. The sound of a chain saw in the shadows of a dimly lit haunted forest stimulates the brain’s fear center, but in the end it is remembered as…

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Patience, Patients

I have noticed a gradual rise of impatient patients and wonder why. I perceive a blurred reality for many patients who want to feel better “now”. I hear patients who are wearied of their pain problem and expect it to be gone the moment they start treatment. Many times the pain has been present for months, but once the decision…

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Continuum

I must apologize to the readers who had high hopes, from the title name, that this blog was about the 2006 John Mayer album also titled “Continuum”. Forgive me. Instead this blog will suggest that there is value in viewing patient signs and symptoms on a continuum. While this is not a new concept, I consider it to be an…

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Weaving Level Ground

Sometimes I wonder if patients receiving medical care are thinking about this quote when they think about us:
“I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I’m not sure you realized that what you heard is not what I meant”.
The quote has also been associated with different people over the years, including former Chairman…

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Did I Say That?

It’s Friday! Your last patient of the day is 13 minutes late for her evaluation. You are more than a little excited. Your progress notes are finished and you can leave early. Then it happens. She shows up. She is sorry for being late. She really wants to start therapy today for her chronic lower back pain with radiculopathy…

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Walk the Tightrope

Walking a tightrope requires hours of practice, training low to the ground before training high, patience, and skill-building all while controlling a fear of falling.  French high-wire artist Philippe Petit carried a 26-foot balancing pole he crafted for the act of walking across the New York City World Trade Center Twin Towers in 1974. Petit states in…

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The Power of Showing

The first time you learn to do any new task is always learned faster and is of higher quality when someone with more knowledge and better skills than you takes their time to show you. Think of a time in your life when someone showed you how to do something new and how you likely benefited from their guidance. For…

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