So, you’re hurting?
And it’s been a long time?
Then you’re like a lot of my clients.
Acute muscular pain is relatively easy to treat, and often goes away by itself anyway.
When a new client tells me that her neck/shoulder area has been painful for a couple of weeks, and nothing seems to help, I’m thinking “oh, this is going to be great!”. In 90% of these cases, it takes one treatment, and things are fine.
There really aren’t a lot of things that give me more pleasure than that new client checking out with the receptionist, exclaiming over and over “This is amazing. I can’t believe it. Look, I can move my head!”
Chronic pain is different.
It’s not easy to treat at all! It’s persistent, nagging, evasive, and it’s hard to predict what treatment will help. I started comparing it to predicting the weather–there are just too many different factors playing into it.
Chronic pain is now seen as a disease itself, not just a symptom, and it’s more a disease of the nervous system than the muscle or connective tissue.
So how do we treat the nervous system?
We need to get moving, develop a better attitude, get out of stress, but we also need good feelings in the areas that hurt–that’s why massage therapy can be very helpful. It gives the nerves something else to report than just pain, and feeling loose afterwards is sending signals to the brain that “this area is functioning well” which in the long run can re-educate the brain.
Here’s a video to explain these concepts. Of course it’s not as easy as that.
It’s hard to develop a positive attitude if you’re hurting so much that you can’t sleep, can’t think, and can hardly get through the day.
So here are the seven interventions, tested and approved by my chronic pain clients:
1. Make it a priority to get some kind of bodywork once a week, for about 6 weeks.
2. Exercise! Find a buddy, join a gym, or use YouTube… just do 30min 3x/week.
Best would be to have a private instructor, or personal trainer who pays a lot of attention to alignment, and strengthening supportive muscles.
You start slow so you can feel how you react. Take notes about what you did, so the next day you can check in with your painful spots, and find out what was beneficial, and what you should stay away from.
3. Whatever else helps you–put it into your treatment plan.
Find things that make you feel better. That’s a hot bath? Well, now hot baths are on your schedule 3x per week, at least.
Of course, on the flip side–avoid all the things that make it worse!
4. Meditate. Somehow. Talk to a spouse or friend, maybe you can make a pact to meditate together for 5 minutes a day for starters.
5. Educate yourself. Seriously–education about pain helps against pain!
It’s like flicking the light on in the closet to look for monsters. If we know for sure what exactly is in the closet, the fear stays at bay.
6. Maybe you should get meds.
7. Find your way.