Posts Tagged ‘Pain Management’

 

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.”

Helen Keller

Do you suffer from chronic neck and upper shoulder pain on a regular basis and can’t figure out why? Perhaps you are one of the 66-90% of the population that suffers from a very common condition know as Forward Head Posture (FHP).42lbhead_free

FHP can be recognized when, from a profile or side view, a person’s ear is positioned in front of the shoulder rather than directly over it – in proper posture. This condition caused by poor posture causes the head to lean forward and for every inch that the head falls forward the head gains 10lbs worth of weight on the muscles of the neck and shoulders. The addition strain causes these muscles to work much harder to hold the head from flopping forward. When this type of stress is put on muscles for a long period of time, the body reacts by laying down scar tissue in the muscle fibers for stability. The strain on the muscles and the addition of scar tissue limits flexibility and causes additional pressure on the nerves in the neck which increases pain and fatigue. If left untreated and FHP becomes severe enough, it will not only cause long duration tension headaches, but can also increase blood pressure, cause disc herniations, arthritis, pinched nerves, and even distortions in the eyes and ears that could lead to mental disorders.

Over a period of time, forward head posture can lead to a “hunchback” like Igor!

Over a period of time, forward head posture can lead to a “hunchback” like Igor!

There is hope in correcting FHP: starting by identifying the incorrect posture through postural analysis, the following step would be to stretch out the muscles the have become tightened then strengthen the weak muscles so that you are able to hold your head up in proper posture. It’s always good to seek the advice of a professional, such as a chiropractor, to ensure there aren’t any major skeletal problems as well as a massage therapist to help ease the tension in the muscles. The same professionals can show you the proper stretches and exercises to prevent the havoc of FHP!

 

“A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence”

David Hume

I know that I write and post a lot about the benefits of massage and how it is great for general health and well-being. It’s easy to assume that when reading this it’s biased and swayed because it’s my business and I am a massage therapist, but the real truth is that I never believed that massage was anything more than just a luxury. That statement right there is blasphemous to my fellow therapists I’m sure, but I have to be honest so that you understand that Massage Therapy has truly changed my life!

Like many of people who only understand massage from what they see in the media, I really thought that massage was all about relaxing with candlelight, incense, and ambient music. It wasn’t until I applied for the Physical Therapist’s Assistant program at my local community college and was denied due to a lack of volunteer hours, that I was introduced to the clinical side of massage. I decided it would be worth my while to at least give it a shot, so I applied and was required to take several medical pre requisites. Pre requisites for a massage class? I knew at this point massage therapy had to be more serious than what I interpreted.

After getting accepted into the program, I was introduced to the program director and future mentor Steve Jurch. From day one Steve took a very scientific and clinical approach to how massage, or soft tissue treatment, can really make a difference in overall health and wellness. Throughout the program, which was almost 2 years long total, I learned more about biomechnical movement, muscular anatomy, and kinesiology than I had ever thought I would. I was also able to see and experience first hand how different the therapeutic approach really was and how immediately the results could be. It changed the way I felt, moved, and even perceived my environment.

My belief in massage therapy became greater and greater over the years, but in the early stages of my career I was still reluctant and somewhat skeptical. I had to ask many questions and do significant continuing education before I started seeing my treatments really effect people in a positive way. There have been many clients that I have worked with since then that have avoided surgery, regained range of motion, reduced painful and stressful symptoms, and so much more! Massage therapy has been around for many years and has been used to treat people for all kinds of aches, pains, disorders, and illness with great results. How can I not believe in this after seeing first hand many different times!?

It may have taken me some time to convert my skepticism, but I have been a massage therapist for over 10 years and let me tell you…if it can change my mind, I’m sure that it can change yours as well!

“The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

Voltaire

This morning on a commercial break while watching the news I watched 3 back to back ads for over-the-counter pain medications. First off, I was baffled as to why they would play 3 different ads for the same product and secondly I was taken away by the fact that there are people out there take take OTC pain meds multiple times on a daily basis!

As soon as I could, I had to get to a computer and do some research and what I found was quite mind-blowing. Pain killers are the number one purchased OTC drug and many that are taking these pain killers are misusing them. In a study done by WebMD, it showed that ” nearly half of the 175 million adults who take over-the-counter pain relievers admit to exceeding the recommended dose, and few are aware of the potential risks.” The same research informs that “16,500 people die and 103,000 are hospitalized each year because of NSAID-related problems.”

over-the-counter pain killers can help manage but over time they do more bad than good.

over-the-counter pain killers can help manage but over time they do more bad than good.

Just like almost all medications that are ingested in pill form, they have to be processed by the liver and after time of continual use of the drugs, the liver can start having problems of it’s own. In addition, after repetitive use of drugs, the body adapts to the medication and more is require to achieve the same result. You can easily see how this is very unsafe and can potentially be fatal.

Low Back pain is at the top of the list for the needs of pain medications

Low Back pain is at the top of the list for the needs of pain medications

Now I’m not knocking pain medication all together, but there should be no real reason that you have to take it on a daily basis. After all, the medication only treats the symptoms not the cause. To really be effective you need to try and figure out the cause and then treat appropriately. In my experience as a massage therapist, I have found that many people are taking pain medications due to low back pain and severe headaches. In many of these cases these conditions are accompanied by poor posture. Without getting to in depth (I will save that for another BLOG), when the body starts loosing it’s correct posture, structures start to shift. Muscles on one side of the body become tight and on the other side of the body become overstretched. This in itself can cause significant and noticeable pain, but add to that when the muscular imbalance occurs that joints that were meant to move smoothly become compressed and dysfunctional. Blood vessels and nerves can become compressed if the postural alignment is to far from the norm.

Overuse and Misuse of OTC pain killers can cause serious Liver damage.

Overuse and Misuse of OTC pain killers can cause serious Liver damage.

You will read many articles that dispute the fact that there is no scientific research or proof that pain has anything to do with improper posture, but I say find out for yourself. Massage Therapy has been proven to relieve pain in the muscle fibers as well as alleviate headaches and help to restore posture, all with no real negative side effects. Ask any person who has received a massage if they felt better afterwards and if their pain was reduced and that should be proof enough that therapeutic massage is a better option than consistently over using OTC pain killers. It’s natural, it has been used for thousands of years, and it gets results!

“The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain”

Aristotle

    Many Healthcare Professionals and even many people know that one of the best ways to
recover from injury is to avoid pain as well as manage inflammation. Most of the time to avoid pain we take a pill or some other sort of oral pain reliever. In truth, these are chemicals that wreak having on our digestive system and liver.To reduce inflammation we use ice packs that usually require us to stay immobile and increases the risk of frostbite
and nerve damage. In our fast paced lifestyles and in our attempt to stay healthy, what are we to do to get the healing benefits of Cold Therapy and Pain Relievers with out all the
side effects and limiters? A good answer is Biofreeze.
   Biofreeze is a topical analgesic that is made from a USP-grade natural menthol that
helps with pain relief as well as reduces inflammation. This type of product is great for use
to recover from an injury or to help subdue pain before deep therapeutic massage and even chiropractic care. After application, Biofreeze works as a counter-irritant which means
that it’s effect overrides noxious pain signals traveling to the brain through a process
modulated between paintransmitting and non-paintransmitting neurons which is
known as “gate control”.
    In my experience, both personal and professional, I have had great results with Biofreeze. It works fast and has lasting effects with very little “medicine cabinet smell.” I
highly recommend Biofreeze for recovery and pain management; both minor and
major traumas alike.

Image

“You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.”
– Robert Anton Wilson

I was recently asked, “why would  my muscles be tender to touch and achy even if I haven’t injured myself ?” The truth is that there is more than one reason. Poor posture and unhealthy diet top the list and are the two more important reasons that I would like to briefly discuss today.

The muscles in the human body are designed to move fluidly through a designated range of motion where they will hold the body in proper posture. Due to our jobs and lifestyles, our posture deviates from the “proper” form and causes our muscles to overcompensate to regain the posture. When the posture can’t be achieved because the muscles aren’t strong enough, the body lays down scar tissue and causes the muscles to stay in spasm and act as a “cast” to avoid from deviating any further from the norm.  Muscles that are in constant spasm become over worked and fatigued which annoy the nerves that innervate with the muscles. Irritated nerves become highly sensitive to touch, in fact too much aggravation to the nerves will cause the muscle to increase spasm and start the cycle over again. If this cycle continues over and over again, it will soon effect more of the body’s function that just the muscle.

Unhealthy diet can also contribute to nerve annoyances in the muscles, causing them to be overly tender to the touch.  In today’s world, most foods that are purchased are filled with synthetic additives, preservatives, and harmful chemicals. Consumption of these foods effect our bodies from the cellular level in our digestive tract and has a domino effect to our brain and muscle fibers. Think of  the internal body as an open cut in the skin and now think of the foods of an unhealthy diet as dirt. When a wound in the skin is kept clean it heals quickly with little scarring but on the other hand if the wound is dirty then there is a high risk for pain and infection. When you eat poorly the internal pain associated with that diet can even cause you to deviate from your proper posture as well. It’s easy to see that the better you eat, the better you feel overall.

Sensitive muscles that are tender to the touch can quickly become annoying to the point of effecting your everyday life. The goal to avoid this is to remove the root cause. You can easily alter your diet to keep your insides healthy. As far as posture goes, it would be best to start with professional analysis to identify the postural defects. The next step would be to help realign posture. Stretching, Strength Training, and Therapeutic Massage are great ways to  achieve these goals. Stretching the appropriate muscles that have been tightened and shortened due to poor posture, as well as strengthening core muscles – as well as all other stabilizing muscles in the body will help to keep the body in it’s proper posture. These tasks alone can be daunting and troublesome and this is where therapeutic massage can make a difference. Many know that massage can help to reduce tension in the muscles and stretch muscle fibers, but what most don’t understand is that massage can stimulate weak muscles to activate and help flush unwanted toxins from the body. With this combination, you can live a life with minimal pain and discomfort.