From the category archives:

chronic pain

Stop fighting it

by Ed

One thing I have learned, especially with pain, but also other symptoms, is to not fight the symptom. If you are experiencing pain, tensing up against it, does not help, it only makes it worse. If you can completely allow the pain, accept it with your whole being, not only will you feel better, but you may have a breakthrough in your healing.

There are several things you can try, to allow the symptom in.

  • Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the area that has pain or another symptom. As you breathe in imagine the breath going to that area. As you breathe out allow that area to soften. On the inhale you can also try breathing in light or warmth.

  • Imagine that your resistance is a fist held tightly around the symptom. Feel the fist and slowly let go. This can be combined with the previous point.

  • Just explore the sensations. When you get curious about pain, it’s quality changes dramatically.

  • Practice surrender. I am not sure how else to put it, but sometimes, when in intense pain, I just keep surrendering to it.

I have a food allergy, and one of my reactions is that my esophagus goes into spasm. It is incredibly painful and I can’t swallow for about half an hour. I have never felt pain as bad as that. One time when that happened I practice surrender and exploring the sensations, together. It was an almost ecstatic experience. The pain went away very quickly, but I almost wished it didn’t because I was enjoying it so much. I have never had that pain, so intensely, since that experience.

Book Review: Pain Free

by Ed

I became interested in Pete Egoscue’s work when a number of people I knew started benefiting from therapists trained by him. When I started reading his book, Pain Free, I realized he came from the same assumption that I come from, in treating pain. If the body’s structure is out of alignment, eventually there will be pain. If you correct the structure, the pain and related symptoms will go away, in most cases. The Egoscue method treats structural imbalances through exercise therapy.

After three chapters explaining how and why his method works, he goes through the body, in detail, from foot to head. He gives a set of exercises, he calls them menus, for pain in each area. I think that “recipe” is a better word than menu. You do not pick and choose your exercises, and it is important to do them in the correct order. Each exercise builds on the previous one, and you get faster results if the hips are aligned first. The pelvis is the foundation of the body, and it is usually at the center of the problem, wherever the symptoms might be. Once the pelvis is aligned, other parts of the body fall back into place.

“The Egoscue Method is unique in recognizing that therapy programs succeed only when they treat the body as a closely integrated unit.” That may be true in exercise therapy, but Chinese Medicine also agrees with that statement. Often I have seen physical therapy fail for that very reason. There is too much emphasis on the site of pain with out taking into consideration all of the underlying factors.

Pain Free is a very readable and very practical book. Most people who read it and do the exercises get great results. If you buy it and it does not work for you, don’t throw out the Egoscue Method. A book can not see all of your dysfunctions. Pete has treated thousands of people, so he knows the most likely scenarios for any given symptom, but you are unique. I have known many people to benefit from doing the exercises in the book, and I have known some people who needed more individualized treatment. The book is cheaper, so try it out first. It is also an enjoyable and educational read.

Anthony Robbins said, “This book is extraordinary, and I am thrilled to recommend it to anyone who’s interested in dramatically increasing the quality of their physical health.”

Deepak Chopra said, “Pain Free is based on a very sound understanding of human physiology. It shows how we can break the circuit of pain and naturally heal one of the most significant disabilities of our time.”

In Canada, you can buy Pain Free: a Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain here.

In the USA you can buy Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain here.

Pain Relief

by Ed

One of the healing modalities I practice is postural alignment therapy. After a thorough evaluation of my clients posture and structural alignment, I design an exercise program to correct the misalignments. When the body is properly aligned, pain and other symptoms often go away. But when the pain is too great for even the gentle program I design, what to do?

There are three exercises that most people can manage. These three exercises are particularly useful for musculoskeletal pain involving the back, hips, knees, and shoulders. Between them they relax and realign the body very well. With dedication, they can help reduce disabling pain, and often relieve pain altogether, at least temporarily. At that point I can introduce a program that will really help them get permanently out of pain.

So what are those three magic exercises? I’ll show you, but first some Do’s and Don’ts:

Do consult with a qualified health professional before embarking on any self-help plan. Make sure you know the cause of your pain.

Don’t do any exercise if it causes pain.

Do relax and breathe deeply while doing the exercises.

The first one is very simple: Lie on your back with your calves on a chair or other suitable support. The thighs should be vertical and the calves should be horizontal. Stay here for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the severity of your pain.
static back

The next exercise is similar. Only you have one leg up and the other stretched out straight, on the floor. Support the foot on the floor so it stays vertical. Do this for about 15 minutes on each side.

Supine Groin Stretch

The last one, called air bench, is the most difficult, so you should slowly work into this one. Stand with your back and hips against a wall. Your feet should be parallel, about shoulder’s width apart, and far enough in front of you so that you can slide down the wall until you are in a sitting position. The position is very important. The knees should be over the ankles, not in front of them at all! Try to get your thighs horizantal, but don’t hurt yourself. If there is any discomfort in the knees, move up the wall until it disappears. Press the hips and low back against the wall. Feel the weight in your heels, not the balls of your feet. Hold this for up to 2 minutes. You may have to start at 10 seconds and slowly increase.

airbench

I first learned these exercises from the book, “The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion”. It was after reading that book and Pete Egoscue’s “Pain Free”, that I studied at the Egoscue Method Clinic.

For more information check out my web site prhealthworks.ca or egoscue.com

Fibromyalgia

by Ed

The chronic pain and other symptoms of fibromyalgia are not fun to live with, but there are things you can do to make life easier. Probably the three most important things you can do to improve quality of life and decrease symptoms, are gradually increase your exercise, reduce stress, and improve sleep.

Exercise may be the most difficult because it hurts and it is so easy to overdo it. It is important to very gradually increase your exercise program, so as not to have major setbacks. You may start out with a minute a day of walking. You want to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, 3 to 6 days a week. Strength training and stretching are also helpful. You may consider tai chi or yoga, for both the exercise and the stress reduction.

One of the best methods for stresss reduction is meditation. In 1998, a study on meditation and fibromyalgia found that meditative practices lessened the achiness, sleeplessness, muscle pain, and depression experienced by fibromyalgia patients. You can try the Inner Smile meditation that I mentioned in my post yesterday. Guided visualization and self-hypnosis are very similar to, and have the same effects as meditation. Search for a technique that works for you and stick with it. The more you do it, the better it works.

Sleep. Nobody wants to get up feeling like they did not get any rest all night. Not only do you feel lousy, but it aggravates all the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Getting good sleep is very important. The stress reduction techniques mentioned above should help a lot. Changing your eating habits may help as well. Reduce or avoid caffeine and sugar. Try to finish eating early in the evening. Going to bed when you are still digesting disturbs sleep. Another lifestyle change that may help is not watching tv in the evening. Tv can be very stimulating and keep you awake. If you have tried all of these things and still have problems with your sleep, you should seek treatment. research shows that acupuncture is helpful for sleep and other symptoms of fibromyalgia. Hypnotherapy is a very good method for improving sleep. I would turn to Western Medicine only as a last resort.

Finally, keep an active social life. It helps with your mood and keeps your mind off your symptoms. If you join a support group, join one that supports a more postsitive lifestyle rather than one that supports complaining about your problems. You are alive, you might as well enjoy it.

A quick note on Tai Chi

by Ed

I found this in Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter, from February, 2001:

A recent study looked at 33 arthritic adults aged 49 to 81, who either did or did not take a three month tai chi program. Participants in the hour long, twice weekly class said they were better able to manage disease symptoms and enjoyed better health. By doing these slow, flowing motions, arthritic patients reported significant improvements in their flexibility, mobility, and ability to bend and do household tasks. (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, December, 2000)