Back Pain Treatment: Keeping a Journal

If you are a person who suffers from chronic back pain, you may have tried a bigger combination of back pain treatments than you can remember. At some times, you may have tried several different treatments at once, further complicating the healing process, in terms of knowing which things worked for you and which didn't. In the course of treating your chronic back pain, you may have seen several different doctors or experts in their respective fields (chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture) who don't share information about your particular case. For these reasons, it may be beneficial to keep a journal to track the course of your back pain, and chart changes in your symptoms as you try different treatments. You may use this journal to remember later which things worked and which didn't, and you may have this to bring with you as you see doctors or back pain experts for the first time to explain your condition.



While growing up, you may have found that confiding in a diary or journal, about a fight with a best friend, unrequited love, or unpreparedness for the upcoming final, for example - helped diffuse some of the emotions that came with these stressful or fearful experiences. Research has shown that a variation of this journal keeping that you may have done when you were young may benefit you if you are suffering or recovering from pain disorders such as low back pain. This journal or record of your experiences may help to benefit you in a few ways. Besides the potential clinical benefits you may receive as a result of charting the clinical progress of back pain treatments, it may provide emotional benefits as well. Research has shown that writing about your experiences and the stress involved in dealing with pain may help you to cope with that stress. For some people, keeping a journal may help the problems underlying their back pain.

A recent study of people with rheumatoid arthritis showed that those who maintained regular journal writing about their most stressful life events experienced a 28% reduction in their overall disease activity. The results of this study showed us a couple of things. First, it showed us that thinking and writing about our illness and the high levels of stress that comes with it is much more beneficial than just keeping these anxious thoughts to ourselves. If the patients in this 28% group were to have kept their stress and fear to themselves, the progression of their disease would have advanced faster, or their symptoms would have been more severe. The study points to some very interesting questions, namely, did just writing about their most stressful life events reduce the group's stress levels directly, and did this stress reduction provide physical benefits to the patient? In any event, this study has demonstrated that writing about emotionally painful events may actually decrease the severity of a person's symptoms related to their disease.

Keeping a journal of the treatments you have tried, lifestyle choices, diet, and situations that may cause you stress or pain may help you to discover what makes you feel better, and what exacerbates your pain. Typically, people will make daily entries in their journal, noting the date, situations that were distressing in their day, and any treatments they may have tried that day to try to treat their disease.