If you are one of the millions of "walking wounded" who suffer with pain in your
back, neck, or extremities, or the all-over ache of fibromyalgia, this comprehensive self-care
manual was written specifically for you. Perhaps the title caught your eye because
someone you love suffers with chronic pain or you are a health-care provider that must
face chronic pain disorders in your practice every day. Either way, this book will be a
valuable reference guide to help you heal your pain or assist others in healing theirs.
Pain is something most of us fear and try to avoid, yet chronic physical and emotional
pain is something that is all too common in our society today. Pain is the most common
reason anyone seeks the advice of a health-care provider. The good news is that
there is hope to have the life you may now only dream of; you can heal your pain! To
accomplish this, though, the primary question to ask is not "How do I get out of pain?"
The question to ask is "What good will I bring to life when I heal my pain?" When we
begin by imagining all the goodness we can bring to others-to the earth itself-with
our newfound freedom from pain and suffering, it is then that we begin to really heal.
As a doctor of chiropractic and a board-certified neurologist who specializes in
chronic myofascial pain disorders, I will show you the paths to healing your pain in
this book. In addition, I will uncover for you practical and effective ways to accomplish
this. However, to fully find freedom from suffering and become truly healthy, we must
compassionately connect with something greater than our physical and emotional self;
this subject is covered in detail in section 5.
The word freedom gives us our first clue to the path we must follow, for it comes
from the ancient root freon, meaning "to love," and the suffix -dom, meaning "the state,
domain, or condition of." Therefore, if we want freedom from our suffering, we must
do so by entering the domain or condition of loving. With this always in mind, what
you do to heal-eating a healthier diet, becoming more active, exercising, whatever it
is-is done out of love for one's true self, for this earth, and for those around us. With
this, each act of healing is connected to a greater purpose in life, and this is where real,
sustainable health begins. Look around you: in a world that holds so much potential
for beauty and grace, why is it filled with so much pain and suffering? Where does one
even begin? We can only begin with our self to build a more peaceful world within
us and around us, a process I explore step-by-step in the second half of the book, The
Triangle of Healing: Physical/Biochemical/Spiritual.
Chronic Pain: Ignored and Misunderstood
If you suffer from chronic pain, it is easy to feel isolated, but you are not alone. Chronic
nonpathological pain is actually very common. It is now estimated that as many as 105
million Americans have some element of chronic pain in their lives, and about 50 million
Americans are partially or totally disabled due to their chronic pain. As we shall
discover, problems involving the myofascial tissues of the musculoskeletal system are
the most common causes of chronic pain. The American College of Rheumatology
reports that more than 75 million adults in the United States at any given time are affected
by pain and stiffness of their musculoskeletal system. Chronic pain disorders of
the muscles and joints are the leading cause of work-related disability among men and
women aged 16 to 72 years. Furthermore, chronic back pain is now the most common
cause of disability in Americans younger than 45 years old. It is estimated that as many
as 10 million individuals currently struggle with the disabling pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia,
and the number of diagnosed cases is increasing.
Chronic Pain Statistics
105 million Americans suffer with chronic pain.
50 million Americans are partially or totally
disabled by their chronic pain.
75 million adults are affected by pain and stiffness.
Chronic muscle/joint pain is the leading cause of work disability.
Back pain is the leading cause of disability
in those younger than 45 years old.
10 million are now diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Yet chronic myofascial pain disorders do not get the proper attention that they
deserve, even though they are extremely common and can make life unbearable. When
you are one of the millions of the "walking wounded" suffering with the unwellness of
chronic pain and fatigue, chances are there is no diagnosable pathology. This can make
it very difficult for you to find a clinician who takes a serious comprehensive and integrative
approach to your chronic pain. All too often it is dismissed as being "all in your
head," adding insult to injury when your life has already been turned upside-down by
chronic pain. In fact, the leading prescriptions for individuals with chronic myofascial
pain disorders are NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and antidepressants.
As we shall see, this medical approach leaves the underlying causes untreated and can
cause further metabolic injury to you.
This book has been written with the express purpose of:
1. Empowering you with a comprehensive and practical guide that allows you to
2. Providing you with the knowledge to ask the hard questions and find quality
health care that can help you on your journey to healing your pain.
3. Or, if you are a health-care provider, providing you an ideal reference guide for
treating individuals with chronic myofascial pain disorders; with well over 200
references, it brings you the most up-to-date information for your practice.
Finding the Way on Your Journey
Toward Healing Your Pain
To assist you on your journey, this guide includes a comprehensive table of contents
and index, and is divided into two books and five sections:
Book One, The Story of Chronic Pain: How We Got Here
Section 1: Misconceptions in Our Modern Healing, chapters 1 to 3
Section 2: Roadblocks to Healing, chapters 4 to 8
Book Two, The Triangle of Healing: Physical/Biochemical/Spiritual
Section 3: Physically Healing Your Pain, chapters 9 to 13
Section 4: Biochemically Healing Your Pain, chapters 14 to 18
Section 5: Spiritually Healing Your Pain, chapters 19 to 21
See below for descriptions of each section.
This detailed table of contents and division into five sections with chapters and subchapters
will allow you to easily navigate through the material to locate and relocate
information most relevant to you. For example, if you wish to get right into physically
relieving your low-back pain, you may want to go directly to the chapter in section 3:
Physically Healing Your Pain that relates to your region of chronic pain, e.g., chapter
10 for chronic low-back pain. You then can explore that particular chapter to find out
how to self-treat the muscle knots specifically causing your chronic back pain. However,
to assist this abbreviated process, I highly recommend that you also go to chapter
14: Eating Your Way out of Pain and into Wellness, and follow my simple "baby steps"
program to help jumpstart your pain-healing program by addressing the basic metabolic
dysfunction of your pain.
Book One: The Story of Chronic Pain
However, I have found that those individuals who actually take the time to understand
why they are hurting have a much better chance of healing their pain and becoming
healthier and happier individuals. Therefore, I highly recommend that you fully
explore section 1 to find out why it is so important to avoid relying on drugs for quick
pain relief. Then go on to investigate section 2: Roadblocks to Healing, to fully understand
what it is about our modern diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures that set
us up for chronic pain and disease. Section 2 will also help you understand why you
may need to change your diet and take certain supplements to fully conquer your pain
and create real wellness. And for a complete holistic approach, section 5 explores the
body/mind connection and the role of spirituality in healing your pain.
This book was written as a comprehensive guide that will provide a broad audience
with useful information not for quick pain relief, but to heal their pain-and, as we
shall see, there is a vast difference. Therefore, you may find that you utilize this book
more as a reference guide, picking and choosing information useful to where you are
on your path to recovery. But, with that said, this book was written in a way that tells a
story, a comprehensive interconnected narrative, from the first to the last page, and it
is best read that way.
As with most things important, we usually take our health for granted-that is, until
it is taken away from us, often due to our own negligence. A problem today is that
we want everything in simplistic, quick sound bites, whether it concerns politics or
health care. These simplistic answers to our lives, as well as ignoring the real underly-
ing causes, may be hastening us toward more complex health disorders and degenerative
diseases. As a society, we constantly talk about quality, but genuine quality does not
appear to be our real concern in our frantic race to get somewhere in life. To recognize
this, all one needs to do is examine what we feed ourselves and our loved ones in the
form of fast foods and convenience foods. Presently, American families eat more than
half their meals outside the home, primarily at fast-food places instead of quality "slow
meals" at home.
Section 1 of this comprehensive narrative explores the vital importance of taking
charge of your own healing and not blindly surrendering to our modern model of
health care focused on disease, not wellness. It goes on to examine the fallacy of any
quick pain relief, whether prescription, over-the-counter, natural, or alternative in
nature. Throughout my years of clinical experience, I have found that when individuals
seek quick pain-relief instead of healing their pain, they generally end up eroding
their health further.
As explained in section 1, the drugs we take to relieve our pain actually inhibit or
block vital biochemical pathways. The problem with this approach, as we will examine
in detail, is that there are no unnecessary metabolic pathways in your body. When
you take a drug to relieve your pain, that drug actually inhibits important pathways,
which over time will damage vital tissues in your body. The commonly used nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can inhibit the biochemistry
that keeps your liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tissues healthy.1 In fact, nearly 17,000
people die from gastrointestinal bleeding each year from prescription NSAIDs.
In section 2, you will discover that to overcome the challenge of your chronic pain,
whether simple back pain or fibromyalgia syndrome, it is vital to heed the warnings of
your biochemical individuality. This is achieved by dancing eloquently with our personal
genetics through proper diet and lifestyle choices. Our Standard American Diet (SAD
for short) and our modern lifestyle promote lives of overconsumption and undernutrition,
causing us a painful unwellness that undermines our health and happiness. Also,
since World War II, more than 80,000 different chemicals have been introduced into
our environment. The EPA National Human Adipose Tissue Survey has found that
the five most toxic chemicals known to man are now found in 100 percent of all tissue
samples taken.3 (More on this in chapter 7: Our Injured Earth, Your Injured Self.)
SAD equals . . .
Standard American Diet
This painful unwellness caused by dietary, environmental, and lifestyle exposures
does not affect every individual the same, due to personal genetics and subsequent biochemical
individuality. Therefore, from the same dietary, environmental, and lifestyle
exposures, some individuals may develop full-blown fibromyalgia syndrome while
others only have occasional stiffness and pain. It is vital to realize that our body first
signals our unwellness as recurring pain and/or fatigue. And as you will uncover in
section 2, the underlying metabolic factors of this recurrent pain and fatigue are the
very same factors that can lead to degenerative diseases. These are the chronic disorders
that plague our modern society and are the leading causes of death and disability:
heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's,
dementia, etc.). Section 4 of this book fully illustrates how you can heal your
pain through properly addressing these underlying metabolic causes, thereby helping
to prevent the development of degenerative disease later in your life.
Book Two: The Triangle of Healing
In sections 3 through 5, you will explore the triangle of health and the importance
of addressing all three aspects of healing physically, biochemically, and spiritually. Section
3 provides you with a powerful toolkit on how to physically remove myofascial
trigger points anywhere on your body, a primary factor in any chronic pain syndrome.
It starts out in chapter 9: Self-Care 101 for Myofascial Pain Syndromes, with the basics
on physically self-treating your pain-causing muscle knots. Then chapters 10 through
13 bring you through the entire body, showing you how to treat the specific muscle
groups that commonly cause you pain in the back, neck, or extremities.
Section 4 starts out with chapter 14: Eating Your Way Out of Pain and Into Wellness,
which provides you with specific dietary changes to help heal your pain. This chapter
contains my special "baby steps" program, helping you to make small, easy modifications
that will dynamically transform your health and ease your pain. In chapter 15:
Spice Up Your Healing, we examine ways to utilize standardized extracts of specific
herbs to naturally heal your pain. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find that these herbs
do not have side effects but provide you with side benefits promoting greater wellness
overall. In chapters 16 and 17, we look at specific ways that we poison the healthy functioning
of our body, inside and out. These chapters then go on to tell you what exactly
you and your family can do to help improve your detoxification capacities. In chapter
18: From CRPs to Fibromyalgia Syndrome, we tackle the difficult subject of what
exactly fibromyalgia syndrome is, how it develops, and what you can do to conquer it.
Section 5 of this comprehensive self-care manual is an important exploration of the
body/mind/spirit connection to healing your pain. In this fifth section, we come to
fully understand why it is so important to not fear our pain but instead embolden ourselves
with a warrior's spirit of self-discovery that can lead to real healing. Pain is an
integral part of life, and it is actually vital for your survival. If you ask, the ideal world
for many would be one without pain. But if you were to neurologically remove the
possibility of pain, you would make it impossible to experience pleasure as well. The
same nerve endings and nerve tracts that elicit and carry the message of pain to the
brain are also the very same that respond to pleasurable touch.
As inseparable as pain and pleasure are in your body, so is it in your life. Imagine the
loss of something or someone in your life that would cause you pain; it-he or she-is
probably of great importance to you. In life, that which brings you your greatest pleasure
can bring your greatest pain. Pain and pleasure are intertwined in a continuous
dance that can bring you from delight to despair in a moment. Therefore, life also
contains the possibility of pain leading to delight, and in section 5 we discover how our
chronic pain can spiritually become our doorway to a healthier, more purpose-driven
In section 5, I borrow from the perennial wisdom of the Axial Age to create a
five-step program to assist the spiritual healing of your pain and suffering. With this
approach, you can begin to create a life in which the impact of physical and emotional
pain is greatly lessened, and you will live in greater harmony and peace with yourself
and your world.
Through my own painful ordeals and through my clinical practice, I have come to
realize the necessity of having a knowledgeable guide to assist you in your journey
of healing. This is my purpose in creating this comprehensive manual of wellness for healing chronic pain disorders: to act as your personal guide on this journey. But even
the best guide is meaningless without the courage and discipline of a warrior's spirit to
apply the knowledge gained. I know that healing your pain is possible, for throughout
my clinical and teaching years I have seen thousands of patients who regained their
health naturally to live lives without pain.
I also know this to be true from my own personal experience; I was once so severely
disabled with chronic low-back pain that I had to leave clinical practice for a period
of time. Even though I had access to some of the best resources in natural and conventional
medicine, I spent much of my time in agony, flat on my back. I eventually
realized that it was up to me to discover the underlying cause of my own chronic pain.
This further became evident and poignant when my daughter was overcome with the
pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia. I witnessed the courage of a true warrior when I saw
my own daughter apply this knowledge and fight back to conquer her fibromyalgia.
At one point, the pain in her legs and back became so severe that she had to crawl
up the stairs to her bedroom. Watching her suffer drove me back into academia to
begin a three-year program to become a board-certified neurologist. Building upon my
years of clinical experience, this process of intense study revealed to me the underlying
causes of chronic pain and its effective treatment. It also inspired me to create the
FENIX Rehab System, a self-care product that allowed her to effectively remove her
pain-causing muscle knots.
Through all this, I was able to effect dramatic changes in my own experience with
chronic pain. Additionally, my daughter was able to heal her pain, and she is now a
vibrant, active young woman, working and going to college. You will meet her in
this book because she graciously consented to model the self-care section, chapters 9
through 13. Her story is told in greater detail later in the book, along with case histories
of others who were able to heal their pain naturally. Through this very personal journey
with chronic pain disorders, I have come to a deeper appreciation of the suffering it
causes and the importance of effective natural treatment strategies to properly address
its various causes. These efforts all culminated in my founding of FENIX Recovery
Enterprises and my seminars for doctors and the public, along with this book.
How to Use This Book
The trigger point illustrations included in this book indicate where the points are, as
well as areas of common referral pain. The myofascial trigger point on these charts is
indicated by a *, and its referral pain is indicated by a shaded area. Just remember that
the locations of the * for the trigger spots and shaded-in areas for the referral pain are
only the typical locations. Your own precise location for each myofascial trigger spot
may vary slightly, so search around in the muscle. In addition, the referral area of pain
can vary widely from the diagrams, which are only examples of a typical distribution.