By Jonathan V. Wright, MD
PNT is the lifetime work of Dr. Steven Kaufman, D.C., L.Ac. from Denver, Colorado (www.painneutralization.com). After using it in his own practice for years, in 2006 Dr. Kaufman started teaching his technique to other healthcare practitioners. PNT uses no narcotics, no patent medicine of any kind, no supplements or botanical remedies, only hands, and is not invasive in any way. PNT is based on a carefully chosen series of gentle maneuvers of the body’s exterior soft tissues, which can literally “turn off” pain signals to any given area of the body. There are no known adverse effects.
While very little in medicine and health care works 100 percent of the time, PNT is so effective at eliminating or substantially reducing chronic pain that it does seem hard to believe. Tahoma Clinic physicians Gaston Cornu-Labat (of Tahoma Clinic, Redmond) and Tabitha Werblud (of Tahoma Clinic North Seattle) have been incorporating PNT into their practices for a number of years so it’s time for me to “shut up”, and refer you to the experience of a Seattle-area nurse who suffered severe post-injury pain for ten years before she found relief in the PNT treatment done by Dr. Cornu-Labat. Following is her story in her own words.
My pain started in February of 2003 when I fell from an 18 foot orchard ladder where I was pruning a large apple tree, onto the edge of my concrete driveway. I sustained ‘pulverizing’ fractures to my left talus and broke other bones in that foot and ankle. With a misalignment inside the cast following the first surgical reduction, my ankle healed in a pronounced inverted position, and over the next year I went through several more surgeries to re-route tendons and fuse bones in an effort to pull my foot back under me so I could stand flat on the sole and walk with less pain.
Even after getting both feet flat under me again, the multiple and varied kinds of pains in that whole lower limb continued. Many of the miserable sensations started after the corrective surgeries, though I am thankful they allowed me to stand and to walk.
The multiple and varied forms of pain I have lived with since that fall have been life-changing, making it difficult to sleep well for many years, unable to work as an RN, or to maintain my large yard or hike or do most other recreational activities I enjoyed, and testing family and social relationships during the darkest time of my life.
I can see how people find ways to end their lives when faced with a life sentence of constant severe pain. It’s emotionally and physically exhausting. I believe I have survived because I know and trust my Creator as a loving God who does not bring disaster but desires only the best for us and can bring good out of what seems from a human perspective to be hopeless or impossible, when we cooperate with His design for life.
And while I have had to learn to accept physical limitations and how to be content to live with pain, my relationship and trust in God have grown as they never would have without these immense hardships. I have seen countless prayers answered and amazing good come from this accident. I believe God’s goodness is limitless and that He has so much more in store for the future, not only for me but, I hope, for many of those whose lives touch mine. I believe God brought PNT to my attention through caring people, and then gently persuaded me to try it even though I have become less eager to pursue new things after lots of disappointments.
“It was my full time occupation seeking pain relief…”
For the first 5 or 6 years after my injuries, it was my full time occupation seeking pain relief and managing medical appointments, dealing with insurance and financial issues, and trying to cope with exhaustion and constant pain. I followed doctor’s orders and every other reasonable lead.
I have had multiple surgeries by world-renowned foot and ankle surgeons, and physical therapy of all sorts in a dozen clinics in several states, experiencing all the modalities they use -infrared light, hydrotherapy, TENS, ultrasound, H-Wave, Russian Stimulation, vibration platform, and endless exercises. I had months of acupuncture, tried cold laser treatments, and many types of massage therapy including myofasciaI release and somatic massage therapy.
I’ve had several forms of chiropractic treatments. I spent 2 months in South Dakota at a Wellness Center, living an optimally healthy lifestyle and having treatments of all kinds. I have used many oral nutritional supplements, as well as topical creams and herbal ointments. I have worn custom shoes and inserts, and many different types of lower leg, foot and ankle orthotics and braces, all with varying degrees of help.
Not being able to reach my painful spasming muscle tissue with my hands while my leg was encased with these ankle-stabilizing orthotics caused me to abandon them even though some of my pain was relieved by not flexing my ankle, being supported during weight-bearing. I was also a patient at the University of Washington Pain Clinic for over a year, where they prescribed various combinations of narcotics and other pain medications, and advised relaxation imagery tapes and books.
About 7 years into this process, I finally allowed my PCP [personal care physician] to prescribe antidepressants as my energy reserves were so depleted that I could hardly get out of bed or function much of the time, exhausted and sometimes panicked at the thought of living with never-ending pain.
Many of the things I have tried have helped me some, though the greatest benefits I’ve seen with specific types of massage have been very temporary. I have learned to manage the pain with medications, stretching and exercises, massaging the painful areas, and limiting my activities. Some days are not as bad as others. But I am never pain free. It’s been something like having a bear trap clamped shut around my left ankle for 10 to 12 years.
“At one point I seriously considered amputation…”
At one point I seriously considered amputation at the advice of several of the doctors I’ve consulted with, and spent time in amputee support groups and had a lengthy consultation with the head of amputee services at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Thankfully, he was thorough in his evaluation, and experienced enough to say he did not think I would be better off without my foot, and advised against elective amputation for severe chronic pain in my case.
Then in June of this year, one of my sisters called me to say she had read in the Tahoma Clinic Newsletter about a doctor in one of their clinics who has been trained in a new pain treatment called Pain Neutralization Technique. She was very impressed by the write-up and urged me to go see him! I wrote down the contact info, and then got distracted with other things and ‘forgot’ about it–until another friend called to say he had seen a presentation at a local health food nutrition center, by this same doctor talking about PNT, and had been more than impressed by the instantaneous relief people were getting from short demonstrations of this technique. I immediately picked up the phone and made an appointment.
I saw Dr. Gaston Cornu-Labat for the first time on August 19, 2013. He gave a brief description of what I would do to give feedback during the treatment, and went right to work treating my left lower leg, ankle and foot. He worked methodically, finding painful trigger points and then switching off the looping pain signals. He used a light fingertip pressure, unlike anything I’ve ever had done in all the years I’ve been seeking pain relieving treatments. It didn’t hurt at all, and the pressure was light and only a few seconds in duration.
“I had more flexibility, and the stabbing joint pain was gone!”
It was hard not to be skeptical, but I tried to stay open-minded through the appointment. It was relaxing and not at all unpleasant, and as he worked, I could actually start to feel some of the burning, sharp sensations in my leg and stabbing hot pain in the ankle joint, and the crushing-bundled feeling in my forefoot ‘melting away’ under his fingers!
When he was finished, I got carefully off of the table, bracing as I always do when preparing to put weight on my foot. I was not expecting the huge change in symptoms when I stood up and took a few steps! My pain was so dramatically relieved that it didn’t feel like the same foot I had limped in on! I had more flexibility, and the stabbing joint pain was gone! It almost felt like I was floating as I walked to my car. I estimated that I was close to 90 % improved! It was by far the best I had felt since my accident! There were certainly tears of relief and joy!
I have seen Dr. Cornu-Labat three times since then as my pain is complex and apparently not something that can be unraveled in one or two sessions. I suppose having unresolved trigger points for many years has set up or resulted from a multitude of other things going on in that limb. The immense relief I get from the treatments lasts from a few hours to a few days, but then gradually many of the painful things come back, especially the stabbing hot joint pain. I have tried different after-treatment approaches, from total rest for a day, to my normal activity level, to trying more than I ordinarily do because I feel so good. I did get relief after each subsequent treatment, to the point that I was nearly pain-free right after the last visit! It was a wonderful thing to stand and walk without pain again! If only there was a way to maintain that relief!
Overall I am sleeping better, and some of the pain I had when not weight bearing is definitely much better even 2 weeks after my last treatment. That is wonderful! I hope that in spite of the anatomical changes set up by the initial injuries and subsequent tendon revisions and fusions it may still be possible to get long lasting relief from some of the other pain he has been able to ‘switch off’ during PNT treatments. I did feel best when I had several treatments a few days apart. I would see him 3 times a week if I had the resources!
Still, just knowing that when things get too bad I can schedule an appointment and that after some PNT, I will get at least a short vacation from pain gives a whole new outlook! I am considering purchasing some PNT training DVDs and learning how to do some of the basic techniques that I can perform here at home between visits to his more experienced hands.
“It was instantaneous, profound relief! Truly amazing!”
Incidentally, Dr. Cornu-Labat has also worked on my left elbow which had been very painful for 3 months since doing some work in my yard, and after a few minutes of gentle PNT for that area, I immediately had at least a 90% reduction in that annoying ‘tennis elbow’ pain! And after a couple additional brief treatments, I am essentially pain free in that elbow. It was instantaneous, profound relief! Truly amazing!
He also treated me for low back pain which comes and goes and which has at times been incapacitating. I have had no more pain in my back since the one PNT treatment he gave me for back pain!!! Neither my elbow nor my back pain have returned!
I have become an advocate for PNT after the miracle-like results I have experienced from being treated in this way. I am telling everyone who knows what I’ve been dealing with about this miraculous new treatment and how greatly it’s helped me, recommending it to everyone I know who has chronic pain. I have handed out many of Dr. Cornu-Labat’s business cards and brochures. I have phoned family and friends to urge them to consider finding someone trained in doing PNT where they live to help them with their pain.
I have told my Primary Care Physician, and emailed the chiropractor and massage therapist I see occasionally urging them to look into PNT. I am so very thankful that Dr. Stephen Kaufman discovered how to turn off the chronic pain signals that plague many millions of people in this country alone, causing immense suffering, depression, lost productivity, unnecessary surgeries, the use of many drugs with unpleasant and damaging side effects, and so much more.
Pain Neutralization Therapy is such a safe, gentle and effective alternative. I have tried just about everything there is ‘out there’ available for chronic pain, and nothing in my experience gave such immediate or immense relief. I long for the day when PNT will be the accepted norm in treatment for chronic pain!
–M. H., RN