From the category archives:

pain

Wave goodbye to frozen shoulder

by Ed

Time To Run
Creative Commons License photo credit: blentley

Frozen shoulder is limiting and it can be painful. In Chinese medicine it is called 50 year shoulder because people tend to get it at middle age. Now you can learn how to avoid it, and how to to recover from it.

The most important thing in avoiding frozen shoulder is keeping it moving. Do gentle range of motion exercises every day, to keep the shoulder joint fully mobile. If you injure your shoulder, get treatment to heal it quickly. Avoid putting ice on it. Ice, though popular in the West, is considered harmful by the Chinese medical practitioners. It causes blood to coagulate and tendons to stiffen.

Treating Frozen shoulder

If you already have frozen shoulder, the therapy obviously changes. Exercise to increase range of motion, although painful, is vitally necessary. See an acupuncturist who specializes in injury management, or a physical therapist, for a good set of exercises targeted to your limitations. Regular deep massage, to break up the adhesions is very helpful. Use moist heat on the shoulder joint, daily. Wrap a hot moist towel around the shoulder and leave it in place for about 15 minutes.

Using Chinese herbal plasters and liniments: There are many liniments and herbal plasters designed for

701 Plaster

701 Plaster

various stages in injury management. 701plasters are the best plaster for frozen shoulder. It comes in a long roll, and you can cut off a piece with scissors. You may want two or three pieces at a time, as it won’t stick as well going around the joint. Peel off the plastic and place the plaster on the joint. You can leave it on for 24 hours. After a break for a day put another one on. Some people don’t like to walk around smelling like Chinese medicine, so they only leave it on over night.

The most easily available liniment that is useful for Frozen shoulder is Zheng Gu Shui. Like 701 plaster, Zheng Gu Shui is very warming, it panetrates the muscles and improves blood circulation. Massage the liniment in to the shoulder and the tight muscle around the shoulder, twice a day.

Click image to buy

Click image to buy

As both 701 Plasters and Zheng Gu Shui are very warming, they should not be used on acute injuries, or

when inflammation is present. However they are useful other chronic injuries and arthritis, and other aches and pains that are worse when it is cold.

Acupressure Points for Frozen Shoulder

There are a number of points on the body that you can press or massage, that speed the healing of frozen shoulder. Generally it is best to use the point on the opposite side of the body from the frozen shoulder.

TH3 is on the back of the hand, between the last two bones of the hand, just above the fingers. The point should be tender.

TH3

ST38 is on the shin, just outside of the crest of the shin bone, half way between the knee cap and the ankle.

ST38

GB39 is one hands width above the outer ankle bone, just in front of the leg bone that runs down to the ankle.

GB39

Press or massage each of these points for about one minute, two or three times a day. Do it immediately before massaging liniment into the shoulder.

Check out Tom Bisio’s book, A Tooth From The Tiger’s Mouth, for more on treating yourself for frozen shoulder and other chronic and acute injuries.

Your Back Pain: Crucial Facts Your Doc Forgot To Tell You

by Ed

Some of these facts most doctors don’t even know!

One fact every surgeon should tell you is that research shows that surgery does not have a better success rate on back pain than other treatment modalities, such as physical therapy or acupuncture.

Here is another juicy one. Usually they don’t even know what is wrong with you. Let me quote an important text book:

“The causes of many painful conditions of the low back remain obscure. Low back pain, which is one of the most common types of pain, continues to puzzle experts…Even when these signs and symptoms are objective, variation is often found between examiners as to the proper interpretation of their clinical significance.”

Muscles: Testing and Function With Posture and Pain, Kendell et al.

Posture has a great deal to do with back pain. Most Doctors won’t even mention that unless you have obviously bad posture. Correcting subtle structural misalignments can go a long way toward getting free from back pain. There are two good self help books for assessing and improving your postural imbalances.

Back Care Basics: A Doctor’s Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief

The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion: Revolutionary Program That Lets You Rediscover the Body’s Power to Rejuvenate It

Here’s a biggy: Pain medication tends to have a rebound effect. Did your doctor tell you that when prescribing them? You will tend to feel worse when the drugs wear off. I wonder if the drug companies do that on purpose, to sell more drugs.

Increased self awareness combined with appropriate exercise are probably the best things you can do for your back. And acupuncture works wonders, of course.

Pain in the Lower Rib Cage

by Ed

Many people get aches and pains or a feeling of fullness in the lower rib cage. Often they have no obvious organic cause and Western Medicine does not treat them. Even more often the symptoms are so vague that people don’t bother to tell their doctors about it.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recognises several conditions that could produce those symptoms. In fact they are often early warning signs which, if treated, can save a person from developing a more severe condition. If you have an intense pain that is localized on one side of the rib cage, you should see a doctor about it. If you have more vague pain on both sides of the rib cage, then try the tips at the end of this post or see your acupuncturist.

In Chinese Medicine, when we talk about the internal organs we are talking about more than the anatomical/ physiological organs as Western Medicine understands them. We are talking about their energetic functions along the entire course of the meridian they are associated with. Each organ is also associated with an emotion or complex of emotions, a body tissue, and a sense organ. The liver is associated with the lower rib cage. It is also associated with anger, frustration, stress, and suppression of emotions. It has to do with the free flowing quality in everything in our lives. Vague pain in the lower rib cage usually is a result of the liver energy becoming stagnant. This frequently leads to indigestion and gassiness as well.

I have three favorite ways of returning the liver to its natural free flowing state:

  • The Inner Smile I have described this one in an earlier post, here.

  • The Seven Shakes This is a good one to do in groups. If you are in a meeting or teaching a class and everyone is losing focus and looking sleepy get them up and do the seven shakes. Stand up and shake your right arm seven times, counting out loud. Then shake your left arm, right leg, and left leg seven times each. Then shake them 6 times, 5 times, etc., down to one time. Finish by jumping into a karate stance, or any stance you like and shout Ha!

  • Qi Gong: Liver Healing Sound Stand with your feet about shoulder width and parallel. As you inhale raise your hands into the air as if you were embracing th sky. Holding your breath, bring your arms down until the elbows are pressing your ribs cage and your palms are facing your face. Close your hands into fists and lean over as if you were skiing and exhale with the sound shhh. Repeat three to seven times.

Doing each of these exercises every day will certainly lower your stress and increase your energy. If your rib cage pain is due to simple liver energy congestion, it should relieve that as well. Have fun and keep moving.

Update: I am no longer accepting comments on this post. It is not reasonable for me to try to guess what your particular problem might be.

Quick Self-Help for Joint Pain

by Ed

Yesterday, I was digging a trench. It was deep enough that I had to go below the hard pan, which is very hard on our property. So I was also using a mattock, to break up the earth. I am very healthy, but I have never been particularly strong, and I don’t do a lot of hard labour. Usually my back is the first thing to bother me, but I have been taking care of it lately. Yesterday, my number two weak point, my elbow, started hurting. When I went to bed it was sore and just slightly inflamed. As I was relieving the pain, I realized I had not mentioned this technique on my blog, yet, so here it is.

This is an acupressure technique, based on the Balance Method of acupuncture. It can bring fast relief for both acute and chronic pain in the joints. In order to make it easy to understand I will describe the technique only for very localized pain in one of the major joints of the limbs.

First you need to find a sore spot on the opposite limb on the opposite side. For instance, my pain was in the left elbow, so I found a sore spot in the right knee. The ankles go with the wrists and the hips with the shoulders.

Continuing with the elbow example, extend your hands straight out in front of you, palm up. If the pain is on the same side of the arm as the baby finger, look for a sore spot on the outside of the knee. Remember it is the opposite knee. If the pain is on the thumb side, look on the inside of the knee. The wrist and ankle are the same, the baby finger side corresponds to the outside of the ankle. For the hips and shoulders, the back of the hip corresponds to the back of the shoulder, the side of the hip corresponds to the top and side of the shoulder, the front of the hip corresponds to the front of the shoulder.

It may take some searching around to find the sore spot, but it will be obvious when you find it. It will be much more tender than anywhere else. Once you find it massage it with slow deep circles, for about one minute. You need to massage deeply enough for it to hurt some, but not too much. If it is very painful just press on the spot until the pain eases, or one to two minutes.

If you have relatively acute pain, like I got yesterday. Massage the point three or four times a day, for a day or two. As long as you don’t aggravate the problem, that should be enough to make it better. If your problem is more chronic, this technique can relieve the pain but may not be a long term solution. You may also want to try this technique along with my pain relief visualization.

Acupuncture better than surgery?

by Ed

Drug companies and other companies that have something to gain, are good at twisting research to make you believe what they want you to believe. If they can do it, so can I!

First a study on acupuncture from 2004. It was a very large and rigorous study that showed acupuncture is effective in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. The acupuncture group had 40% less pain and nearly 40% better function than either the sham acupuncture (placebo) group or the control group.

“For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size, and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee,” said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director. “These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers. NCCAM has been building a portfolio of basic and clinical research that is now revealing the power and promise of applying stringent research methods to ancient practices like acupuncture.”

Next a study shows that orthoscopic surgery is no better than placebo in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. So, you see acupuncture is better than surgery for pain.

Disclaimer: In the interests of honesty and integrity, my last statement was obviously a huge leap. And orthopedic experts find fault with the study on knee surgery. They say most of the patients chosen would not have been good candidates fo the study any way.

So, assuming the “experts” are right, what do we learn here? Well obviously, acupuncture is effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain. What I find interesting though, is that the placebo effect is so powerful. Why aren’t they studying that? Everyone in healing professions, including surgeons, should be learning how to enhance the placebo effect. Mostly, science is trying to discount it. Apparently it is the most potent healer.