Dealing With Chronic Pain with David Hanscom, M.D.

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Having had had two spinal surgeries, ending up with kidney failure, ulcers and post-operative infection, David Hanscom has first-hand knowledge of chronic pain. This has left him with extreme empathy for patients who come to him. Since medical school he’s educated himself on mind/body syndromes. Discovering he had a lot of anger issues he says, “I wrote a section in my book called the disguises of anger and, looking backward, I could see that I had every disguise going. When you come from a difficult childhood like mine, anger and anxiety are your baseline; that's your norm.” He describes three causes of pain: structural, soft tissue, and fired up already established, neurological brain pathways. Pain pathways are very, very specific and he advocates a program he’s developed that he calls DOCC (Defined, Organized, Comprehensive Care), which takes into account the Mind/Body Syndrome. He went through the Hoffman Process and learned, “You either create bad habits or good habits. Anytime you’re anxious or angry, you’re in an automatic pattern, a reactive pattern. That’s not who you are.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


David Hanscom, M.D. is a board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in complex spine problems in all areas of the spine. He has expertise in adult and pediatric spinal deformities such as scoliosis and kyphosis. A significant part of his practice is devoted to performing surgery on patients who have had multiple prior spine surgeries. He works for Swedish Neuroscience Specialists in Seattle, Washington with eight neurosurgeons and a physiatrist. Besides performing surgery, when it is called for, he advocates a comprehensive and effective program of pain reduction he labels DOCC (Defined, Organized, Comprehensive Care), which takes into account the Mind/Body Syndrome.

He’s the author of:

To learn more about the work of Dr. David Hanscom go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How chronic pain disables us
  • How did the Russian scientist, Dr. Ivan Pavlov, cure himself with buckets of mud
  • How experiments have shown that a rich social life diminishes pain
  • Why surgery is not always the definitive solution to pain
  • Why positive thinking and “mind over matter” are only short-term solutions
  • How can we calm down the neurological pathways of pain we’ve developed
  • How is sleep the trump card of lessening chronic pain
  • Why Hanscom is very conservative about recommending spine fusions
  • Why degenerative disc disease is often not the cause of chronic pain
  • What is the Hoffman Process and how did it help him
  • How the Hyde School process changed his family dynamics

Host: Justine Willis Toms     Interview Date: 4/13/2013     Program Number: 3468

Music Playlist

From Album: Essential Tri Atma
Artist: Tri Atma
1990 Higher Octave Music #HOMC 7028

Opening Essay: Track 1 Namaskar
Music Break 1: Track 4 Blue Caravan
Music Break 2: Track 4 Blue Caravan Reprise
Music Break 3: Track 6 Microcosmos