Updated on 21st January 2021
How to cure your own back pain, hip pain, arthritis and sciatica, without medical interventions
By Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling, Hebden Bridge
Jim Byrne is a doctor of counselling who takes seriously the injunction: “Physician heal thyself!” This statement has two meanings: (1) doctors should demonstrate a capacity to heal themselves before they offer their services to their patients; and (2) every individual must to some degree become their own physician, and learn to heal themselves.
Dr Byrne has recently healed his hips of arthritis, despite being told that arthritis is incurable, and that he would have to have hip operations sooner rather than later. He has also healed his own low back pain; and sciatic fibrillations in the back of his upper legs.
Now he is writing up his healing journey in a book that will be helpful to millions of pain sufferers all over the world. Here is a preview of the draft preface to his upcoming book:
If you are struggling with low back pain, or hip pain, then this book offers you great hope. The solution to pain in the lower spine, and in the hip joints, which is described below, came out of my own struggle to be pain free. I found aches and sharp pains in my back and hips to be emotionally draining as well as physically restricting; not to mention undermining my confidence in my own body and my faith in the possibility of a happy future.
Imagine me at the age of fifty-four years (in 2001). I was happy, healthy and productive. I had done judo in my teens; karate in my twenties and thirties; and I walked in the countryside every weekend with my wife. I meditated for thirty minutes most mornings; and did gentle exercises for about twenty minutes, on four or five mornings of every week, for many years.
Suddenly my back gave way; I screamed and dropped to my knees; and I ended on all fours on the carpet. I considered trying to roll onto my back to wait until the pain passed, but any movement was like knives sticking into my lower back. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t.
My body had let me down.
For a few moments, I was devastated; feeling at the mercy of the medical profession to come and collect my broken body and try to fix it up. But I already knew that conventional medical approaches cannot do much for anybody with this kind of problem. I knew the general treatment was painkillers, steroid injections, and, eventually – if I was really unfortunate – surgery, which is not guaranteed to fix the problem anyway!
But then I realized there is a better solution. I recalled that my wife, Renata, had bought a book of exercises which are designed to take care of every joint in the human body, including the lower back and hips; and I knew where it was on our bookshelves in our living room[i]. So hope returned.
Renata tried to help me to get up off the floor, but I had to tell her it was impossible to move. I knew I would have to wait until the pain settled, and then move slowly and gingerly.
Half an hour later, I was lying on my back on a beach towel, on my living room carpet; doing the exercises that Renata’s book recommended. I had to move slowly and carefully, but I was able to make the necessary movements.
I performed multiple repetitions of three or four distinct exercises for lower back problems. (More details later; and see Appendix A2). And then I was able to get up and move around, slowly and gingerly.
I repeated this exercise process the next day; and the next; and when I woke up on the fourth morning, my back felt absolutely normal.
The pain didn’t return for about three years. Somewhere in 2004, I was back on the floor, on all fours again. But this time I knew what to do. I waited it out until the pain eased; performed the appropriate exercises for three or four days; and then everything was fine again, for another three or four years.
About a year or two later, my hips became painful in bed, and also when sitting in an armchair in the evenings. So I looked up the relevant exercises for hip joints, and did them for three or four days; and my hips returned to normal. (More details later). I also remembered the importance of various pieces of dietary guidance for avoiding problems with cartilage in the joints, and so I reverted to following those guidelines. And I took a couple of supplements which also help. (More details later).
Then, in 2007 or 2008, my back ‘went out’ again; and I did the same rescue exercises as before; with the same miraculous results. All the pain went away, and I felt as agile as a teenager.
About a year later, I had problems with my hips and my shoulders and neck, and I looked up the appropriate exercises, and quickly restored the full function of those joints. (At the same time, I realized it was important to manage the stresses and strains in my life, and so I moved down a gear or two, in terms of work intensity, and that probably also helped the healing process!)
Then again in 2013, I had the same low back pain problem; did the same exercises; and got the same great results.
But then, in January/February 2019, I moved into a new kind of experiential phase. For a number of years I’ve been overworking; long days, mostly sitting in front of a computer screen, writing and editing books; then publishing them; then promoting them through social media marketing. And also sitting in an armchair, having counselling conversations with clients. And worrying about how to make my income match my expenditure better; which is a national obsession since 2008, and the bank crash which ushered in the government policy of ‘austerity’, or increased poverty and inequality across the mass of the population.
As I worked harder and harder to try to make ends meet, pain was building up in my hips and buttocks on a daily basis. But I stoically (and stupidly!) carried on working!
Then, in my journal, in one of my (then irregular) entries under the heading of Morning Pages, I wrote this – on Monday 11th February 2019:
“I am concerned that I’ve left my lower back and hips so long in discomfort, before commencing the appropriate exercises, which I started today.” (And, note: I forgot to mention anything apart from exercises here; which shows that we can lose sight of our former helpful insights about diet, rest, and so on! But I was, admittedly, responding to my growing awareness of my highly sedentary lifestyle!)
I then wrote about my excessively stoical personality, (which probably was exacerbate by my training in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy [REBT], from 1992 onwards; but I am also a Responsible Workaholic by nature [or by early childhood adaptation to my parental injunctions [to be perfect and strong].) This excessively stoical approach to life keeps me working long after I should have stopped; which is also driven by economic necessity.
I don’t know how long I kept up the back and hip exercises; my journal does not say anything on that subject until Friday 8th March. Most of the entries in the interim have been about working, focussing on other people’s problems – mainly my counselling clients.
Then on 8th March, my Morning Pages began like this:
“My back/hip problem continues. It seems more like a lower back problem; but it could be ‘referred’ (meaning ‘transferred’) from my left hip.”
“Is it about stress and strain – mental strain – about the difficulties of selling books (to make money); or is it about physical wear and tear?”
“If there is a substantial psychosomatic (or mind-over-body) component, what is the cause? Or what are the triggers?”
I then listed five major concerns which weighed heavily on my mind:
– 1. A particular couple who are seeing me for couple’s therapy. Their problems are extreme, and I feel a burden of responsibility to help them in a context in which nothing seems likely to help.
– 2. A particular individual client who is seriously emotionally disturbed, and likely to sidestep my strenuous attempts to help him to heal, in favour of his preferred outcome, which is to trick and fool everybody, including me, and his demented wife.
– 3. Money worries. We live in difficult economic times! The pips are close to squeaking.
– 4. Our home needs urgent roof repairs; and insulation; to retain the (increasingly costly) heat in the winter.
– 5. Some close relatives are in stressful difficulties; and I cannot do anything to help. This ‘pains me’.
The very next morning, Saturday 9th March, “I awoke with a headache”, and I tried to track down the potential (dietary?) causes; but I overlooked the potential stress causes!
“My back now tends to lock frequently, and it is dreadfully painful to get out of a chair suddenly; and I have to stand for about five minutes to allow my lower back to straighten out and normalize. This is embarrassing, because I am expecting two counselling clients today, and I won’t be able to get out of my chair at the end of the sessions to see them off. Also, both of these clients are bringing me very stressful problems to try to solve.”
The next entry in my journal is one week later:
“Saturday 16th March 2019:
“My back and hip problem gets worse.”
To show you how bad it is getting, let me reveal a guilty secret. I am vigorously opposed to painkillers. I know they produce a lot of negative side effects; the NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) cause leaky gut, which then causes leaky brain; and this can and often does result in symptoms of anxiety and depression. Because I know how bad these and all other painkillers are, I am almost religiously opposed to them! I never take them, and I rail against them! But listen to this from my journal:
“I am taking six maximum strength painkillers per day, starting yesterday. I am applying a painkilling gel to my left hip, and to the left of my lumbar spinal region – the little bony projection there.” Still the pain continues!
I have lost control of my hip and back pain. The exercises that have rescued me in the past do not seem to work anymore. Some of them seem to help, to some extent, but some don’t; and I can’t clearly distinguish which are helping and which worsen the problem. And then, I end up feeling worse at the end of a series of different exercises. I no longer know how to treat my own back and hip pain. So:
“I have made an appointment to see a Chiropractor on Monday, in Bradford (not the real location); a highly recommended man named Mr Nigel Smith (not his real name!)”.
However, this was deferred until Friday 22nd March, for reasons which are not stated in my journal (!?!), and which I cannot recall.
For the previous seven to ten days, I’d been in agony with my hips and back. Nothing seemed to help: not resting; not moving around; not exercising; not refraining from exercising.
Some exercises seemed to help, but over the course of a set of exercises, the pain would get worse.
It was agony getting into bed. I could not lie on my back or my left hip; and if I lay on my right hip for a while, it became very sore and achy.
Getting out of bed was extremely difficult. I could stand up, with difficulty, but there would be tension (and fibrillations and trembling, like mild muscle spasms or nerve impulses) from my waist to my knees. I had to stand for a full five to ten minutes before I made a single movement with a foot; otherwise the pain would be so sharp it would bring me to my knees
It was impossible to step into my underpants or trousers in the normal way. I could not raise either of my feet enough to reach the open waistband of my trousers. And I could not bend my back any further forward, in order to lower the waistband.
I could not get into the bath; and had to have a shower very carefully.
I could not reach a hand round to my own hips, which, if you think about it, was bound to cause problems with the use of the toilet.
When I finished using the toilet, I had to stand for five to ten minutes before it was safe to stoop down to pull up my underpants and trousers.
It was unbelievably difficult to do the simplest of things.
Whenever I sat at the dining table for a meal, there was relief from pain; but when I stood up again, the pain was excruciating; and I had to stand still by my chair for five to ten minutes for the pain to subside, before I could take a single step. (It occurred to me, intuitively, that, when I sat down, my lower back went into a C-shape, instead of the gentle S-shape. And that, when I stood up, it had to resume the S-shape, which was slow to happen?!?)
I had to ask my wife to tie my shoelaces for me!
It was humiliating, painful, and undermining of my confidence in my body.
However, this morning (2nd September 2019) I leapt out of bed at a reasonable hour, and began to exercise, by lifting my knees, in turn, upwards – until my thigh was horizontal – to line up with my outstretched hand. My hips are pain free and they move fluidly. I then bent to (almost!) touch my toes twelve times.
How can such a transformation be possible?
In this book, I will show you how, precisely, I cured my back and hip pain problems.
In Part 3, I reproduce the relevant sections of my journal, so that any reader can see, in fine detail, what the problems were, and how I set about solving them; and what it was like when I was fully cured.
However, because I do not want you to have to read a lot of unnecessary detail, I have then boiled that down into the key learning points that you need to know to cure your own back and/or hip pain problems; or other similar joint pain problems. And I present those key learning points in Part 2, below. Then, to provide you with a map of the journey you are about to take, I present an overview of the key learning points in Part 1: Introduction.
I hope you read this book, and that you are able to produce the kind of miraculous cure that I have produced, by working on some relevant physical exercises; making some minor dietary changes; and taking some commonly available supplements; as well as managing your mind.
Jim Byrne, Hebden Bridge, November 2019
This project was mothballed on 17th November, because of insufficient buyer interest. If you would like to see this book in print, because you, or somebody you care about, is in need of help with chronic hip or low back pain, please send me a message in the box at the bottom of this page. (In the meantime, I am cracking on with more urgent projects, which reflect buyer demand).
If you would like to be notified by email when this book is finally published, please send me a quick message below, and I will add you to my mailing list.
Email to: Dr Jim’s email address.