After Hitting Rock Bottom, I’m Finally Understanding That My Chronic Back Pain Is Emotional

Now I may truly heal — this is my path out of pain

Vincent Van Patten
17 min readJun 12, 2024


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Recently I was looking through photos from the last six years, since graduating college. It looks like it’s been such an epic time. Because it has been.

Just looking at the photos, you would never know that I’ve been dealing with chronic back pain this entire time. On the surface I’m smiling, but underneath, not a day has gone by where I’ve not been consumed by the pain.

Chronic pain has been both the greatest challenge and the greatest teacher of my life. But I’m done with it. The universe is demanding that I make a change.

About two months ago, I moved from Osaka to Tokyo. Combined, the weeks leading up to that move and the first few weeks in Tokyo were very difficult on my body. I had three major flare-ups in my back, each one sidelining me for about a week, one after the other.

The best way I could describe a flare up is like there’s a dam in my low back that is just holding in water. That water is pain.

And I would do something — whether exercising or brushing my teeth — and the dam would break. The pain would spread and envelop my back and affect different parts of my body.