179: Back in Control – Interview with guest expert Dr. David Hanscom


Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at Swedish Medical Center, Co-director of the Swedish Neuroscience Specialists Prehab Program

Bill Ringle and David Hanscom discuss how to overcome the true underlying causes of workplace anxiety to get back in control.

>>> Visit MyQuestforTheBest.com  for complete show notes and more expert advice and inspiring stories to propel your small business growth. My Quest for the Best is a top-rated small business podcast with over 300 episodes of thought-provoking and insightful interviews with today’s top thought leaders and business experts. Host Bill Ringle’s mission with this show is to provide the strategies, insights, and resources that will unlock the growth potential of your business through these powerful conversations.

Interview Insights

Key points that you’ll learn from this interview:

  • Some of the challenges physicians face when dealing with the stress of the industry.
  • How Dr. David Hanscom overcame the symptoms of stress suppression by creating “play pathways”
  • Why it’s important to see challenges as opportunities rather than burdens to be avoided. 
  • The “Ring of Fire” strategy for overcoming anxiety
  • The significance of the mirror neuron effect

Read the Show Notes from this Episode

  • 2:30 David recounts how his father, who was also a doctor, inspired him to grow up to become a physician.
  • 3:15 “Spine surgery has changed dramatically over the last 30 years.”
  • 4:03 Some of the challenges physicians face when dealing with the stress of the industry.
  • 5:00 “What happens when you suppress stress, your body chemistry is still adverse, and people get sick.”
  • 5:54 How David’s tendency to suppress stress led him from having no anxiety to having severe migraine headaches and panic attacks.
  • 7:09 David recounts the symptoms of stress repression.
  • 8:43 “Thoughts have the same effect on the brain as these physical threats do.”
  • 11:19 How to redirect your inner stressful thoughts to a more positive outlook.
  • 12:55 “There’s a positive link between sustained stress and auto-immune disorders.”
  • 14:00 “Anxiety is the pain. Whether it’s a physical threat or a mental threat, anxiety is the pain.”
  • 16:01 The Ring of Fire metaphor for dealing with stress and anxiety.
  • 16:55 How David learned to enjoy every aspect of his job – “Pain pathways are permanent, but so are play pathways.”
  • 19:15 “The bigger the adversity, the bigger the chance to practice the tools.”
  • 19:47 Why it’s important to see challenges as an opportunity rather than a burden.
  • 20:45 “If you’re not sleeping, this entire project is out the door, nothing works.”
  • 23:03 Why David insists his patients don’t complain about their pain.
  • 25:15 The mirror neuron effect.
  • 26:35 David describes his morning mindfulness routine.

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Expert Bio

Dr. David Hanscom is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in the surgical correction of complex spine problems in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar 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 earned his medical degree from Loma Linda University in 1979. His residency training began with internal medicine in Spokane, WA from 1979-1981. He has been performing complex spinal surgery since 1986. Around 2001 he began to share his own stress management tools with his patients that were in pain but had no indications for surgery. He also had spent most of his career with rehabilitation physicians learning non-operative care. By 2006 a structured spine treatment protocol evolved called the DOC project (Direct your Own Care). His book, Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain is the basis of the structured spine care program.

He is the founder of the Puget Sound Spine Society, which was formed in 1987. It is a non-profit educational group, which provides a regional forum for physicians from multiple specialties to share ideas regarding optimum spine care.

Contact Info and Social Media for Dr. David Hanscom

Resources Mentioned by Dr. David Hanscom

Below are key people, places, books, quotes, websites, and other resources that we discussed so you can explore further.

The Ring of Fire 

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