How Does Your Modality Help Ease Chronic Pain?
In Ayurveda, health is defined as a balance of body, mind and spirit. When imbalance occurs, illness and disease can result. The Ayurvedic approach to correcting an imbalance is to seek out and treat the root cause of the disturbance, as well as allay symptoms, while allowing the body to heal itself.
While allopathic treatments focus on relieving symptoms of pain, Ayurveda is able to determine its source, correct it and relieve symptoms. In many cases, certain forms of arthritis can be reversed. Ayurveda provides safe, non-invasive, effective treatments without harmful side effects.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the two most prevalent forms, have similar approaches in their treatment with Ayurveda. Ayurveda looks at the process of digestion, and whether wastes are being correctly transported from the body. If not, the waste can accumulate and become toxic. The toxins then circulate in the body, settling in spots that are weak or vulnerable. Over time, they interfere with the absorption of nutrients; in the case of arthritis, it would be in muscles and joints, leading to deterioration, irritation and inflammation. Pain is the result, which becomes chronic.
Ayurveda also looks at the immune response. A dysfunctional immune system can result in an autoimmune reaction resulting in inflammation, swelling and pain, such as associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The severity of a dysfunctional immune system can ultimately become systemic and affect other organs in the body, causing debilitating and chronic conditions. In addition to toxins resulting from poor digestion, Ayurveda determines if other toxins—such as bacteria, parasites, viruses or heavy metals—are present, and formulates a detoxification plan for removing them.
A treatment plan is developed that will remedy the current situation and prevent a recurrence. This might include a detox regimen, herbal supplementation, meditation, therapeutic yoga, lifestyle counseling and dietary changes. A diet plan might include certain grains, green leafy vegetables and fruits for their anti-inflammatory properties, as well as ginger, turmeric and garlic to improve digestion and circulation. While certain body constitutions, or doshas, may be particularly vulnerable to arthritis, their respective treatment plans may vary. It is, therefore, advisable to work with an experienced practitioner to determine the correct approach for each individual.
Neeru N. Kaushik, ND, MSACU, MS, MA is principal of Institute for Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Therapies, located in Fairfield. Connect at 203-331-9111 and [email protected]. See ad, page 5.
For years, doctors have recommended infrared saunas because of their proven relief for back pain, sports injuries, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. Infrared sauna heat works by penetrating joints, muscles and tissues; increasing circulation; and speeding up oxygen flow. By reducing soreness on nerve endings, infrared heat reduces muscle spasms and helps the body heal itself naturally.
A 2013 study conducted at the Auburn University at Montgomery compared stretching inside an infrared sauna compared to a typical training room environment. Results showed that acute flexibility increased up to three times more in an infrared sauna than outside one. A recent Japanese study published in Internal Medicine showed that chronic pain patients experienced a nearly 70 percent reduction in pain levels after the first session of infrared sauna therapy. Pain scores also decreased significantly and remained low throughout the observation period.
Infrared saunas provide anti-aging support and have been found to be highly effective for more than 30 physical and emotional medical conditions. These include anxiety, depression, sleep issues, cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, ADHD, back and joint pain, inflammation and stress reduction.
Research also shows that using an infrared sauna prior to receiving a therapeutic massage enhances the massage treatment’s overall effectiveness.
Another pain relief tool that can be used in conjunction with infrared sauna is BEMER, a non-invasive, FDA-registered medical device from Europe that can increase blood flow and oxygen by up to 30 percent while diminishing discomfort in less than 10 minutes.
Peter Chichester is the co-owner of Haute Healing Oasis in Stamford. Connect at 203-595-5304 or HauteHealingOasis.com. See ad, page 8.
Acupuncture is safe, natural, gentle, effective and helpful for many conditions and complaints. Most people experience positive results, and often after just one treatment. In many cases, acupuncture has worked for patients whose painful conditions did not respond to conventional approaches. When long-standing pain or injuries are the cause, then more treatments will be needed. An acupuncturist looks at the whole health history, sports traumas, falls, bumps and bruises, and other illnesses. The body likes to “remember” its history to help protect us; acupuncture helps to reduce residual effects that linger, sometimes for years.
We all have times of stress, which can result in tightness, muscle knots and pains in our neck and upper back. Tightness in these areas slows down the circulation of blood and energy in the area, causing energy stagnation. Back pain is one of the top reasons people seek medical treatment, and acupuncture as well.
Acupuncture is effective for acute and chronic back pain than can limit range of motion and complicate daily activities. Some back pain is accompanied by tingling and burning down the leg sciatica nerve as well.
The neck is more subject to injury than any other portion of the spine. Neck pain can be mild enough that it is a mere annoyance, or severe enough that it can adversely affect the quality of one’s life and even cause headaches. Acupuncture can relieve the painful burning and tension of a stiff neck and often relief is felt at the first treatment. Typically only a few treatments are required.
Acupuncture treatments can help with shoulder pain; they include points on the neck area, where relieving the extra tension provides immediate improvement. There are so many tendons and connecting tissue structures that enable the movement of the neck and arms, and we also store our stress and concern there.
It also has a relaxing effect on many people; some even fall asleep during the treatment.
Ingri Boe-Wiegaard has been a licensed and fully-insured acupuncturist serving Fairfield, Wilton and Bethel for over 30 years. Connect at 203-259-1660 or [email protected]. See ad, page 9.
Orthopedic Massage Therapy
Integrated manual therapy and orthopedic massage are techniques that offer gentle, pain-free approaches to restore balance around joints, release muscle adhesions and eliminate pain from injury.
Many people complain of lower back pain. After sitting for prolonged periods, hip flexor muscles become shortened; adhesions build up within the joint capsule. When we stand up, the pelvis can be pulled forward, creating impingement in the lower back. The gluteal muscles “go to sleep” and, as a consequence, do not fire in the correct order when we stand up to walk, further stressing the back muscles.
There is a simple protocol to correct this common ailment. First, slow, gentle joint capsule release techniques can relax and release adhesions that build up within the capsule. Secondly, the spreading of myofascial tissue returns the hip flexors to their normal resting length. Lastly, activating the glutes is key so they fire first when walking.
Additionally, any minor muscle strains and ligament sprains can be treated and scar tissue realigned through specific contracted muscle lengthening movements. Following the treatment, individuals take home several daily, self-care recommendations to keep the hips freely moving and the glutes activated.
This is just one example of how orthopedic massage can reduce pain and improve function around joints. Orthopedic massage is also effective for other common issues, such as frozen shoulder, “tennis” or “golfer’s” elbow, persistent knee pain, “text neck”, and any joint range of motion limitations. For athletes, it is also a useful therapy to enhance peak performance.
Michelle Quigley, LMT, RCST, is a licensed massage therapist who specializes in integrated manual therapy and orthopedic massage. She is also a registered biodynamic craniosacral therapist and certified Sheng Zhen meditation teacher. This November, she is undertaking training in myoskeletal alignment technique. Connect at 203-216-8874, [email protected] or MichelleLQuigley.com.
Osteopathic medicine views chronic pain as an imbalance of structural anatomy within the body —including muscles, joints and connective tissue—as well as impaired function and circulation within nerves, lymphatic and blood vessels. With a gentle and precise manipulative treatment, an osteopathic physician can detect imbalances in the neuromusculoskeletal system, including the cranial bones of the head and the subtle rhythmic fluid movements of the body. Osteopathic techniques are applied to allow for improved function and restoration of circulation to the body’s tissues. This further helps the body’s physiology to increase vitality. It can speed up healing of injuries like headaches, concussions, car accidents and whiplash, sports injuries, or muscle and joint pain.
By balancing the body’s fight-or-flight stress response, osteopathic treatment helps to reduce emotional stress patterns, and to down-regulate the chronic pain and inflammation pathways. It also helps the body to make its own natural pain relievers, or endorphins, which can reduce or eliminate the need for pharmaceutical pain relievers. After treatment, patients often experience significant pain relief; they report feeling much lighter and more peaceful with improved energy and better sleep.
Osteopathic physicians have medical training like medical doctors (MDs), in addition to more than 500 hours of training in osteopathic principles, and structural diagnosis and treatment. Many osteopaths look at the whole person—body, mind and spirit—and practice a more holistic style of medicine than conventional medical doctors. They are looking less to treat symptoms and more find the cause for the pain and imbalance. Osteopaths may also include nutrition and lifestyle approaches, mind-body relaxation, deep breathing techniques, and functional stretching to help support their patients’ healing process.
David L. Johnston, DO, is the founder of the Osteopathic Wellness Center in Ridgefield. Connect at 203-438-9915 or [email protected]. See ad, page 56.
Using resistance—contracting a muscle while at the same time stretching it—is an effective way to release dense, accumulated fascia in the body. Through resistance stretching, we can blend resistance, flexibility and strength as we approach yoga poses from the inside out.
Fascia, simply put, is a matrix of thin sheaths of fibrous connective tissue that support, enclose and provide structure for the entire body. Dense fascia builds up in the body from daily habitual patterns, such as slouching, standing while locking the legs, typing or texting, or sitting for extended periods. It can also be caused by physical accidents, emotional trauma and mental blockages.
Releasing accumulated fascia can help detox the body physically, mentally and emotionally as the fascia holds the stress imprints of any trauma that hasn’t been fully integrated into the system. Practitioners who stay with the method are able to deepen their understanding of what their own body needs. They can then design personal routines to heal areas with chronic lack of range of motion and mobility, or aches and pains where fascia has built up.
In a resistance stretch class, poses are done at a slower pace with resistance designed to maintain proper alignment and release chronic tension held within the body. Experienced practitioners, athletes, those seeking greater mobility, or anyone looking to release physical or emotional trauma from the body will benefit from such a class.
The results of resistance stretching are often immediate with range of motion, posture and strength improvements. These in turn will reduce tension and pain.
Colleen Maloney is a yoga teacher at Yoga 203 in Norwalk. Connect at Yoga203.com. See ad, page 38.
Tapping, also referred to as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping, can often be the solution to chronic pain relief. Past and present traumas, such as autoimmune disorders, accidents and depression, are often the root cause of chronic pain; the emotions associated with the trauma can remain trapped in the body, blocking energy pathways or energy meridians. Tapping specifically addresses the traumatic aftermath: the lingering negative emotion left in trauma’s wake.
Trapped, undesirable emotions from past experiences are ignited by triggers found in all areas of life. These triggers ignite the emotional blocks in the energetic pathways in the body that hold us in a state of chronic pain, disease and depression; they cause pain. Tapping releases those emotional blocks, allowing energy to flow freely through the body’s energy pathways.
Compelling research on the mind-body connection’s relationship to disease and chronic pain has led many in the medical and mental health profession to the same conclusion: if we do not address the emotional aspects of physical disorders, patients may never recover.
Dr. Lori Leyden, an internationally known trauma specialist and former director of the Newtown Trauma Relief and Resiliency Project, provides supervision for cutting-edge, heart-centered trauma healing, especially as it relates to relief from chronic pain.
“Trauma is a neurological state that may manifest as chronic stress, body pains, headaches, trouble sleeping and a whole host of other symptoms,” says Leyden. “If it isn’t properly treated, trauma self-perpetuates. EFT Tapping is a powerful tool because it regulates the brain dysfunction that trauma causes and allows the person to achieve a strong state of resilience.”
EFT Tapping allows an experience of being with the pain in a way that’s gentle and honoring; this can have a surprising effect on pain intensity, providing not only relief but, eventually, ultimate release.