Back In Control Book Review

back-in-control-book-reviewHave you just about had it with back pain?  Are you frustrated by the limitations the agony is imposing on your life?  Do you wonder why me and when will I be better?  Yes, me too.  But, just maybe, there is hope after all.  I’m pleased to offer this Back In Control book review so that you can see if it’s something you’d like to try.

Before jumping in here, please understand that Back In Control will likely be very different that what you’re used to reading in back pain books.  In fact, there are no exercise or stretching illustrations included.   Not that these would not be a part of your overall recovery, it just that the book addresses primarily healing the nervous system and emotional responses instead.  Read on to get a better idea of what is covered.

Basic Book Information

Full Title: Back in Control: A spine surgeon’s roadmap out of chronic pain

Author:  David Hanscom, MD

Overall Rating:  92/100 = Recommended

Review and Rating

To treat his own as well as his patients’ chronic back pain, Dr. Hanscom developed the DOCC (Defined Organized Comprehensive Care) Program which is the basis of the book.  Since the recovery is anticipated to occur through calming your nervous system, the program focuses on improving sleep, reducing anxiety and banishing anger.  The process is heavily influenced by Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John E. Sarno, MD, The Hoffman Institute, Feeling Good:  The New Mood Therapy by David D Burns, MD and many other self-improvement works.  Although strength-training and physical therapy are recommended, the DOCC is more of a lifestyle change or psychological recovery process.  It’s a real good thing if you’re willing to commit!

The book starts off by explaining how the “path to chronic pain” lies in the central nervous system and that it must be reversed through calming practices such as sleep, stress, anxiety and anger management.  Dr. Hanscom continues on to provide the fundamentals of “reprogramming the nervous system” through awareness, extensive stress reduction and proper physical rehabilitation via patient education.  “Homework” and exercises (mostly writing) are detailed as well.   The 5 stages to “taking back control are addressing anxiety, dealing with anger, becoming creative instead of reactive, taking back your life and then living it to the fullest.  This process should be considered a work in progress, always.

I have already been tremendously helped by this book just by reading it.  While I’ve suffered from episodic back pain for 30+ years, the first 27 have been nothing compared to the past three when all hell broke loose.  I knew I was frustrated and stressed by now but I had no idea how truly angry and victimized I felt until I started reading this book.  I’ve started on the process myself and feel hopeful that I will regain control of the pain gradually by following through.  While Dr. Hanscom is a spine surgeon, he only advocates surgery where there is a definitive structural issue to be addressed due to the many risks.  Yet, he fully recognizes the pain is real even if a structural cause cannot be identified.

The Pros

  • Unique but supported program intended to heal the nervous system.
  • Homework, exercises and additional resources are well-defined.
  • Aptly deals with the emotional aspects of dealing with chronic pain.

The Cons

  • Requires an open-mind and lifelong commitment.
  • Concepts seem counterintuitive.
  • Medications are recommended (in the beginning).


Factor Rates Points Earned Notes, if any
Legitimacy Whether an adequate attempt has been made to justify the claims. 20/20 Book offers what it promises.
Reliabiliy If the author demonstrates expertise to provide the information. 20/20 28+ years of experience as a spine surgeon and overcame own struggle.
Usefulness Reasonable belief that the information may be helpful. 16/20 Likely too much “work” for minor back pain ailments.
Reader Friendliness The writing, illustrations and general design of the material. 18/20 (Intentionally) repetitive at times which can complicate the concepts.
Overall Value Selling price relevant to what is provided. 18/20 Typical book price but quite a few additional resources are recommended.
Overall Rating: 92/100 Points (Recommended)
Ratings are based solely on my opinion and personal experience with the product/service.



Feel free to check back for updates as I continue trying out this process.  I would love to here from you today as well.  Please leave any comments or questions.

Be Well,



8 Responses

  1. Kristina
    Kristina September 9, 2014 at 4:35 pm | | Reply

    Back pain can be soul crushing! It is so boring when you can’t do anything and just have to rest all the time. I have found that tapping is a good way to calm the nervous system, have you tried that? It has helped me with the migrain attacks too. Thanks for a good post! Regards, Kristina

  2. Brittany
    Brittany September 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm | | Reply

    Thanks for the review Denise! I’ve had lower back pain for some time now and will definitely look into your recommendation.

  3. Donnie
    Donnie September 9, 2014 at 9:39 pm | | Reply

    Hey, Denise! Interesting post and interesting site. Very clear and well organized. Back pain is a real problem for many. Thanks for the info and reviews!

  4. B Israel
    B Israel September 10, 2014 at 4:59 am | | Reply

    I’m glad you’re doing this site because I have back pains from time to time. Your site seems very informative

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