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How To Heal Chronic Pain with Dr Howard Schubiner

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  November 9, 2022

Headaches, migraine, back, neck or joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia – they’re just some of the common causes of chronic pain, which is estimated to affect between a third to half of all UK adults, or just under 28 million of us.

If you or someone close to you is one of them, you don’t need me to tell you it can be physically and emotionally draining. You probably feel like you’ve tried everything – so today’s podcast has the potential to be a life-changing listen for you. My guest is Dr Howard Schubiner, Director of the Mind Body Medicine Center in Michigan and author of Unlearn Your Pain: A 28-day Process to Reprogram Your Brain.

Emerging neuroscience tells us our brains actually create what we experience in our bodies, through a process called predictive processing. Pain doesn’t come from the body part where it’s felt, it’s created by our brain, signalling that something needs attention. And as Howard explains, our emotions and stress activate the same pain centres in our brain as an injury. If you’ve ever had a broken heart and experienced chest pain? That’s what’s happening.

The same thing occurs with chronic pain. In the vast majority of cases, there is no structural problem – such as injury, infection or a tumour – although of course these must be ruled out. Instead, your brain has created a neural pathway which remembers the pain and keeps you trapped in a vicious cycle. You fear the pain, that causes you stress, and the stress makes the pain real.

And that is the absolute key here: it’s not ‘all in your head’, your pain is real. And there is something you can do about it. During this conversation, Howard reveals why the key is changing your narrative on pain. His revolutionary therapies – which you can easily access – have been proven to work not just with chronic pain but in other persistent conditions such as depression and anxiety, chronic fatigue and long Covid.

We discuss the role healthcare practitioners can play in these conditions, through listening and empathy. We also chat about the role of posture, cultural differences in pain experience and complementary therapies to his approach.

Chronic pain isn’t a subject we’ve covered in depth on this podcast before, so I’m very pleased I have the chance to bring this important conversation to you. Howard is one of the leading researchers in this field and his work represents a game-changing, paradigm shift in thinking about how we approach this epidemic. I hope what you’ll take from this episode is that the power of your brain is immense, and that knowledge is power. I hope you enjoy listening.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*

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Watch the video version of this interview – click below.

'The pain is not the problem, its the solution our brain has come up with to alert us to a problem.' Share on X

Find out more about Howard:

Website     Twitter     

This Might Hurt (documentary)

Howard’s books:

Unlearn Your Pain: A 28-day process to reprogram your brain

Unlearn Your Anxiety and Depression: A self-guided process to reprogram your brain

Hidden From View: A clinician’s guide to psychophysiologic disorders

Useful links:


Related Feel Better Live More Episodes:

#244 This Therapy Changed My Life And It Could Do The Same For You: Internal Family Systems with Dr Richard Schwartz

#169 Dr Gabor Maté on Why We Are All Addicts

#294 Dr Gabor Maté on Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture

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Dr Chatterjee’s books and resources:


*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

†Disclosure: All books marked with a † are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We take part in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon’s website. You are not charged any extra by using these links to purchase books.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP