Understanding More about Pain Management

by Lawrence Gold Credentials | Publications | Personal Page

Certified Hanna Somatic Educator
previously a member of The Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training training team

Pain management is a problem with which contemporary medicine has been grappling for some time. There is nearly always a trade-off: you may not feel the pain, but you remain dependent upon chiropractic treatments, painkillers or massage, stupefied by muscle relaxants, or toxified by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) -- or worse: physically impaired by neuro-surgical interventions and injections of neurotoxins that take away the natural capacities of an intact nervous system. Meanwhile, the tissue inflammation and damage to joints, no longer being reported to you by pain, continues to develop. There is an effective alternative, new and radically different from conventional approaches.

Viewpoints about Pain

Whereas nearly everyone recognizes that chronic pain is a sign of "something wrong", modern medical science has little to offer for certain kinds of pain -- notably musculo-skeletal pain and headaches. Medical science thinks almost entirely in terms of intervention -- either surgical or chemical (drugs); it overlooks the body's natural self-regulating mechanisms, which sometimes go awry and cause the pain to begin with -- two examples being headaches and back pain.

This potential to change how ones body functions has to do with conditioning. Perhaps fifty percent of musculo-skeletal pain comes from an excessively tight muscles -- the result of injury and prolonged stress (long term emotional tension). Muscles go into contraction during pain and stress. This state of contraction cannot effectively be controlled by drugs or countered by surgery because it has to do with a brain-level reaction. This kind of brain-level reaction is discussed in greater depth in another article.

Once this kind of reaction pattern forms, as during prolonged periods of healing, it tends to persist, sometimes for decades, unless and until the person does something deliberate to change them; these tensions do not "heal" because there is no damage. The neuromuscular system is functioning quite well, but in an aberrated way!

It is for that reason that chemical and physical interventions are ineffective: the person does not have a medical problem; they have a conditioning problem.

More Details

Let's be more specific: How can tight muscles create pain?

Ever lifted something heavy for more than a few seconds? Don't your muscles start to burn? Imagine what muscles must feel like when contracted 24 hours a day! And more: consider what tight muscles do to the joints they cross: compression. Might not relentless compression cause joint pain? What about nerves trapped between tight muscles and bone: ever had a pinched nerve?

That mechanism accounts for a long list of familiar complaints: back pain, muscular pain, sciatica, headaches, scoliosis, TMJ, thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), dystonia, carpal tunnel syndrome (many cases), tennis elbow (medial epicondylitis), knee pain, foot pain, and many other conditions.

Next question: What is the universal response to shock or injury? When you get hurt what's the first thing that happens. You tighten up, don't you?

Might that not explain the "pains and stiffness of aging"? -- more opportunities for shock and/or injury as time passes?

So, A Conditioning Problem, Not a Medical Problem

Because of the recognized hazards of drug dependency, physicians are sometimes reluctant to prescribe even painkilling drugs and prefer to tell the patient to get used to the pain.

In extreme cases, however, the neurosurgeon steps in and cuts nerves, or the orthopedist replaces a joint (sometimes necessary and successful at alleviating pain, sometimes, not). Cortisone may be injected to reduce inflammation or botulism toxin injected to paralyze muscles. These kinds of measures often miss the point: the person is in pain because they are too tight; joints degenerated because of too much muscle-induced pressure; and muscles are too tight because the brain has become conditioned to hold them that way.

In that case, answer is not surgery or drugs; it is to change the conditioning by which a person holds themselves too tight -- a process that falls more into the realm of learning than of medical intervention.

The answer is not surgery or drugs; it is to break the conditioning by which a person holds themselves too tight -- a process that falls more into the realm of learning than of medical intervention.

Deal With the Problem As It Is.

To change the tension level of muscles requires more than stretching or massaging; it requires a learning process that affects the brain, which controls the muscular system. Such a learning process is referred to in some circles as "somatic education". Somatic education systematically uses special movement training techniques to improve awareness and control of the muscular system. Significant results come relatively quickly, and when they do, the benefits are second nature and require no special attention in daily life, other than a brief, morning-refreshment routine to purge out the accumulated effects of daily stresses.

To Get an Experience

A system of sensory awareness and movement education (brain training), Hanna Somatic Education, has been developed that restores freedom from numerous forms of musculo-skeletal and stress related pain. To download instructions for a simple, do-it-yourself demonstration click here. This exercise shows how the addition of a simple technique dramatically improves the effectiveness of a familiar stretch. After you've experienced the demonstration, imagine what it be like if your whole body felt like that.

This is an example of the type of self-care instruction taught in a training method called Hanna Somatic Education®, taught by Certified Hanna Somatic Educators at the end of a typical session. Clinical techniques reduce or eliminate the pains of a wide range of conditions.

For more information, see the Self-help Resources page.

For a list of certified Hanna Somatic Educators, click here.

Point and click for next article: Pain Relief through Movement Education (sensory-motor integration)

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