August 29, 2018

Dr. David Hanscom MD On Basic Family Triggers Around Pain – Episode 119

In this episode prominent spine surgeon Dr. David Hanscom MD speaks about the family triggers around pain.  After dealing with chronic pain patients on a daily basis and year after year and after seeing new data that showed patients were worse after surgery than before Dr. Hanscom decided to look deeper into the issue of pain.  He is no stranger to the idea of pain because he too had a horrible pain syndrome with no answers that almost made him take his own life.  He saw first hand how living with pain affected his family and marriage.  He speaks not only from his own experience but now has hundreds and even thousands of paitents healing their pain by following his work.  It is truly amazing!

Dr. Hanscom believes that each human being has a deep drive to thrive and give back. This force is frequently compromised by chronic pain, which has been documented to have a similar impact on your quality of life as terminal cancer. Life becomes one of survival. Through his own personal ordeal, he discovered that chronic pain is curable by systematically using established medical practices in a self-directed manner. The key is to connect to your own capacity to heal.

Dr. Hanscom is an orthopedic complex spinal deformity surgeon who now understands that most chronic pain from any source is solvable – usually without surgery. He is the creator of the DOC (Direct your Own Care) program, which is the subject of his book, Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap out of Chronic Pain. He also publishes a weekly blog and maintains a website,, to provide resources for chronic pain patients and their families. Dr. Hanscom distinguishes himself from many spine surgeons in that he strongly encourages non-surgical solutions for his patients.

Working from his practice at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, Dr. Hanscom witnessed scores of patients recover, usually without surgery. Through these experiences and his own personal victory over a severe chronic condition, he came to understand that chronic pain, rather than being a structural problem, was a neurological condition; and that most chronic pain, whatever the cause, duration, or degree, is solvable.

As patients apply Dr. Hanscom’s DOC program (Direct your Own Care), in which they choose and perform activities that have been documented to be effective by extensive medical research, the results are often miraculous. Not only have hundreds of people become pain-free using DOC, many of Dr. Hanscom’s surgical patients have opted out of surgery after trying the program for a few weeks. The key to alleviating chronic pain, Dr. Hanscom discovered, is the patient’s control of his or her own treatment plan.

He didn’t always believe this way. He spent the first eight years of his practice willingly performing spinal procedures to cure his patients’ discomfort–until research data revealed that the overall success rate for surgery performed for low back pain was less than 30%.

Meanwhile, he was struggling with chronic pain and was suffering from an additional 15 symptoms caused by his stressed nervous system. They included unrelenting anxiety and tinnitus that nearly put him over the edge. He inadvertently discovered an effective (non-surgical) tool that began his path to healing over a mere six months. The experience opened his eyes to the fact that the source of most people’s chronic pain was in the nervous system, not the skeletal system.

Determined to raise the odds for successful spine surgeries, Dr. Hanscom began teaching surgical residents and fellows; partnered with his hospital to establish a database that identifies patients who are at a high risk for negative surgical outcomes; founded the Puget Sound Spine Society, of which he is current president; and, as orthopedic consultant to Premera (Blue Cross of Washington), helped establish best practices for orthopedic surgery.

Today Dr. Hanscom’s mission is to re-introduce true healing into medicine. He feels that doctors should be given the time to understand their patients and the life situations surrounding their medical problems. Currently, we are prescribing simplistic solutions for a complex problem. Only then will we see far greater success in treating chronic pain and protecting patients from risky and costly surgeries.

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Previous Vidal Speaks episodes with Dr. Hanscom