Talking Back delivers tools for rebuilding an active life and enjoying the benefits of wellness, even if you cannot get rid of your chronic back pain.
Talking Back brings the reader into the classroom with people disabled by chronic back pain to experience the insights and lessons that have helped thousands of them to regain the physical and emotional capacities to resume productive lives and wellness. Through the stories of sufferers and the steps they took to take back their lives, Dr. Rowland Hazard reveals their pathways to recovery..
When back pain limits their work, recreation, and even simple activities of daily life, people become disconnected from their former lives and relationships. Each chapter in Talking Back takes the reader through one of Dr. Hazard’s classes developed from his 30 years of listening to patients’ narratives and needs. The topics begin with how people become disconnected and how to reconnect by setting personally meaningful life goals and safely achieving the flexibility, strength, and endurance required by those goals. Strategies include dealing effectively with doctors and drugs and owning the skills of deep relaxation and physical self-care to combat acute flare-ups of pain and to overcome the fear of pain that disables people even more than the pain itself.
Talking Back delivers tools for rebuilding an active life and enjoying the benefits of wellness, even if you cannot get rid of your pain.
Rowland G. Hazard, MD is emeritus professor of orthopedics, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He has devoted his over 30-year clinical and research careers to the understanding and care of people who are disabled by chronic low back pain. He has been a pioneer in the field of rehabilitation, and he is internationally known for developing the goal achievement model for overcoming painful disability.
Chapter 1. Nobody Knows Your Pain the Way That You Do
Chapter 2. You Can’t Get What You Want ‘Til You Know What You Want
Chapter 3. The Medical Office Visit
Chapter 4. Drugs
Chapter 5. Relaxation
Chapter 6. Acute and Chronic Pain
Chapter 7. Wellness
About the Author
'Recovering the ability to have a good life' is possible for sufferers of back pain, suggests physician Hazard in his powerful debut. Chronic back pain—the kind that lingers for months or years—is a big business in the U.S., Hazard writes: despite the fact that Americans spend more than $100 billion annually to find relief, few actually do. Hazard takes readers through a three-week rehabilitation course, his “functional restoration program” comprising lessons drawn from conversations with over 3,000 pain-disabled patients over 30 years. His plan helps readers reframe the way they think about their pain by imagining where they want to be in four months, and offers guidance for creating a course of action to realize their goals. Readers will also learn how to have a more productive visit with their doctor (coming prepared with questions such as “Do I have a medical reason not to exercise?”), better understand the value of taking it easy, and learn helpful relaxation techniques such as visualization. Hazard includes patient stories to bring his lessons to life, and worksheets (such as a training chart and pain questionnaire) round things out. Those suffering with back pain will find Hazard’s guide packed with information and full of encouragement.
A pain in the back can be far more than just a pain in the neck. It can lead to the loss of employment, hobbies, and even life. Patients can become fatally addicted to opioids like OxyContin. Chances are nine out of 10 that an attack of back pain will resolve itself without treatment. Hazard, a retired doctor and professor emeritus at Dartmouth, ably and empathetically devotes himself to helping the “one out of 10’s” who keep suffering for months or years. He draws on his three decades of work with patients in so-called functional restoration programs. To illustrate his points, he creates “mosaics” of real patients, like “Roberta,” a 35-year-old single mother of four who loses her loan officer job because it hurts too much to sit all day in her desk chair. These composite characters often feel lonely and helpless, particularly because their pain is invisible: there are no wounds, casts, or bandages. Hazard provides common-sense tips to alleviate back pain: relax, exercise, lose weight, don’t smoke or drink too much. Easier said than done, but expert encouragement helps.
Some years ago, I observed Rowland Hazard, MD in action in his clinic in New Hampshire. As an investigative journalist deep in my research for a book, the experience of watching people who had long ago given up hope finding their way back to life was extraordinary. Dr. Hazard’s new book contains the recipe for this miracle, and it’s a crucial and fascinating read, both for practitioners who treat back pain patients and for the patients themselves.
Dr. Rowland Hazard has spent decades not just talking to patients with back pain, but listening to them. As a result, he evolved a practical, individualized approach to helping those with the most persistent problems. A key early lesson was that “one size fits all” definitely does not apply. Here he distills his insightful combination of expert knowledge and patients’ wisdom into a host of helpful strategies for everyone with back pain.
7/12/2021: Rowland Hazard joined Sydney Finkelstein on his podcast to discuss his journey from a dishwasher to a renowned back pain expert.
3/9/22, Seven Days: This book was highlighted in a feature on recent books by Vermont authors.
5/26/22, Across the Fence/WCAX-TV (CBS Vermont): Dr. Rowland Hazard was interviewed about the book.
10/10/22, International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine: This book was featured in a roundup of books by ISSLS members.