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Accidents, pain, lawsuits, doctors and lawyers. Is the pain real? The Nail Gun Story.

by | Apr 2, 2024 | GEICO, Is the Pain Real?, John Sarno MD, MD, Rachel Zoffness Ph.D., The Nail Gun Story, The Pain Is Real |

Anyone injured in an accident allegedly caused by the negligence of another can sue for pain caused by the injury. The increasing number of surgeries from accidents is now a major focus of defendants and the insurance industry. Some defendants and insurance companies have sued the doctors and the attorneys for the plaintiffs. See, e.g., GEICO v Michael Gerling, MD., Case 1:23-cv-07693-PKC-MMH, and Roosevelt Road Re, Ltd., Tradesman Program Managers, LLC v John Hajjar, MD, Case 1:24-cv-01549-NG-LB (Both cases were brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York).

The GEICO action “seeks to recover more than $2,200,000.00 that the Defendants wrongfully obtained from GEICO by submitting, and causing to be submitted, thousands of fraudulent and unlawful no-fault insurance charges through [various providers]. The Roosevelt and Tradesman action “seeks to recover money fraudulently obtained and sought to be obtained from Roosevelt and from costs incurred by Tradesman to identify and counteract Defendants’ fraudulent enterprises…through systematic exploitation of the New York State Workers’ Compensation system, via submission of …documentation .. pertaining to alleged workplace accidents and purported medical treatment thereafter, patterns of alleged injury and treatment that were ultimately designed to result in windfall tort claims alleging violations of sections 240 and 241 of New York’s Labor Law. “

But before going into that subject let’s discuss the subject of “pain.”

If you have been in an accident, you may be in pain but is the pain caused by the accident or even your mind. One area where this comes up is back pain suffered by many people, even those who have not been in accidents.

John Sarno, MD

Years ago, a doctor named John Sarno, M.D., worked at Rusk Institute at NYU Hospital in New York, which provides rehabilitative care for people in pain. Dr. Sarno said that he was puzzled while at Rusk that there were some people who had debilitating back pain and yet, when he did an examination of them, he saw no physical cause, such as a broken bone or any type of disc injury, that would explain the cause of the pain.

Dr. Sarno began to talk about what he called “tension myelitis syndrome” or TMS. He avoided the phrase “psychosomatic” because that phrase is generally interpreted as that that person has a psychological problem and does not really have pain.

As discussed in Wikipedia, “Sarno’s theory is, in part, that the pain or GI symptoms are an unconscious “distraction” to aid in the repression of deep unconscious emotional issues. Sarno believes that when patients think about what may be upsetting them in their unconscious, they can defeat their minds’ strategy to repress these powerful emotions; when the symptoms are seen for what they are, the symptoms then serve no purpose, and they go away.”

His theory was a Freudian theory. He felt that we have the Freudian concepts of the Id, the ego, and the superego. He felt that people who had some pain, particularly with back pain, because they were angry about something. Since society would not allow us to express that anger, we repress it, and the body translates it into real physical pain. In the case of backs, this resulted in someone feeling what is referred to as “sciatica.” The patient would feel a pain in the buttocks, radiating down the leg. Sometimes the pain was so severe that the person could not walk and would have to lie on the floor.

Dr. Sarno said that this pain was genuine pain. He said it was caused by TMS or the anger that the person was repressing. He said that it mimicked oxygen deprivation to a muscle. That type of injury, oxygen deprivation to a muscle, is incredibly and excruciatingly painful. But upon examination there was no indication in Dr. Sarno’s view that there was any oxygen deprivation to the muscle. It was coming from the TMS as he called it or repressed anger.

Dr. Sarno’s way of treating you was to tell you to write down the things that were bothering you and to then read his book which explained what was just explained. If you followed Dr. Sarno’s theory and did figure out what was making the patient angry, and this sometimes required a psychologist or a psychiatrist to treat the patient, the pain would go away. It happened so repeatedly that Sarno became quite well known in this field.

Is the pain real? One patient asked Dr. Sarno “why did I feel better after I had back surgery when you say I had nothing wrong with my back?” Dr. Sarno said, “Because you believed it.”

Now let’s get to the fun part of this discussion.

Dr. Rachel Zoffness

Another professional, Dr. Rachel Zoffness, became a student of pain management, and in her psychological studies came upon the same theories as Dr, Sarno. In Dr. Zoffness’ finding through her research, Sarno’s theory was not anything novel. Psychologists and other medical professionals had known for a long time that real physical pain could be the result of mental causes.
Here’s the story that Dr. Zoffness tells. Psychology Today, A Tale of Two Nails What changes pain? The science behind why pain is painful. By Rachel Zoffness, Ph.D.

The Nail Gun Story

Two individuals were working with a nail gun. One of them had a nail from a nail gun go right through his boot coming in one end and going out the other. He was in excruciating pain and had to be sedated and taken to the hospital. The other lost track of where the nail fired from the gun landed and just moved on.

At the hospital, the guy with the nail that went through the boot continued to have agonizing pain. Once there, after making him as comfortable as possible, the doctors decided they had to cut the boot off. When they cut the boot off, they found that the nail was between his toes and had not touched any part of the body. The pain suddenly stopped. Yet he had been in excruciating pain. Apparently, it was all caused by his belief that he had been hit with a nail gun in his foot.

Take the other part of this story. An individual was using a nail gun and the gun fired and the nail disappeared. He didn’t know where it was, and he just continued with what he was doing. A few months later he began to get headaches around his teeth and went to a dentist. The dentist recommended a CAT SCAN. The CAT scan showed that the nail had gone into his mouth, up into his skull and was touching a portion of his brain. The pain began to develop at that point, and it had to be removed.

Both these individuals turned out to be okay. The point from Dr. Zoffness is that sometimes pain is imagined like pain that someone feels when they lose a limb and still feel like they have pain in the missing limb. There’s a psychological component that none of us may ever understand. But the pain is real.

Back to Our Story…

Now let’s bring this to personal injury litigation. In that litigation, someone slips and falls on the sidewalk. They may or may not break an ankle. They may simply twist it. More and more in personal injury cases, the person not only needs surgery on the ankle, but they develop shoulder and knee pains as well. In many cases they also have lumbar and cervical problems which ultimately result in surgery.

Often, perhaps very often, after the accident, victims saw the same the same doctors. They received a referral from the initial doctor to one who specializes in cervical and lumbar surgery. When it happens again and again with the same law firms, and the same doctors, one wonders. So do something about it! Go sue me!! Well, somebody did….