Inspiring massage education and wellness for the body, mind, and spirit

Pain Management

April 10, 2010 by Ariana Vincent, CEO of the Ariana Institute

PAIN MANAGEMENT TIPS

Ariana Institute offers online and onsite Pain Management continuing education courses for massage therapists. These courses are approved by the National Certification Board as well as the majority of states within the US.  Please visit http://www.arianainstitute.com/ce-online/ for registration and details.

Pain Management Tips – Pain Management Through Touch

Generally speaking, pain is the body’s way of letting us know we are not well.

Pain can be occasional, acute or chronic, dependent on whether the person has had an accident, is suffering from musculoskeletal dysfunction or musculoskeletal degeneration or lack of movement or mobility.

Looking for a natural and effective pain management solution?  Touch can frequently provide the relief necessary without the need for pain killing drugs.

By employing touch, one can rejuvenate and refresh the mind while improving joint movement and increasing the flow of blood and nutrients to muscles and other tissue.

Neuroscientist Candace Pert and psychologist Tiffany Field have charted the effects of touch by monitoring biochemical changes in the brain and body.

Research has shown that touch has positive systemic effects for the individual suffering from pain: touch influences the immune system, the endocrine system, and the cardiovascular system.

Touch offers a focus on pain management that is part of a growing trend that includes a philosophy based on the concept of total care for the individual – body, mind and soul.

The focus is more than the absence of pain; it is based on developing and maintaining good health and wellness throughout a lifetime.

Touch can be a viable component for conditions previously reliant exclusively on mainstream medical treatments for the management or resolution of chronic or painful conditions.

Scientists have measured lowered stress hormones after touch. Touch has proven to be highly effective in the treatment of acute injuries during the rehabilitation stage.

Touch can also help to relieve pain by improving sleep and it has been shown that touch assists with the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers.

A growing body of research shows touch can be an effective part of pain relief and management. This research data should encourage pain specialists to consider incorporating touch into their pain management programs.

Data indicates that touch promotes relaxation, alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients and decreases pain intensity.

The effectiveness of touch lies in a simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause.

People employing caring, nurturing touch for pain management utilize a holistic approach, focusing on the entire body system and its relationship to soft tissue. Their care isn’t focused only on the site of pain.

Touch not only helps relieve muscle and other soft tissue pain, but also has an impact on the recipient by virtue of healthy, caring human touch. This is especially pronounced for women facing mastectomies and dealing with the outcomes of that surgery. Caring touch helps them feel comfortable once again with their bodies. This comfort level improves their confidence and allows them to better deal with pain.

Although more research is needed to confirm the best uses of touch, the potential for a positive impact on patients with acute or chronic pain is clear.

As it stands, enough research exists to encourage pain management specialists and people offering caring, nurturing touch to forge professional relationships. These pain management relationships could exist in hospitals, in clinics, in private practice offices and in home care for the benefit of all concerned.

Pain Management Tips – General Health

 

Get continuous sleep. Lack of deep, restorative sleep makes the pain worse, and pain makes it hard to sleep.

Treat your emotions. Depression and chronic back pain go hand in hand and each makes the other worse. Get professional help for the depression too.

Stop smoking. It causes somatic pain.

Avoid alcohol. It is a depressant and interrupts sleep cycles.

Check your gene pool. A lot of somatic pain runs in families, so if somatic pain runs in your family, take extra care of your body.

Connect with others. Pain is lonely. Most people feel better when they can connect and share with others who are experiencing similar challenges.

 

Pain Management Tips – Exercise

Stretch your body. Tight muscles put stress on the body. Stretch them every morning and evening.

Stay active. Don’t rest for more than a day or two when somatic pain is at its worst. Prolonged inactivity makes the pain worse.

Walk as much as possible. Carry a pedometer to know you’re walking 10,000 steps a day. Walking on a treadmill has less impact on the spine than walking on a sidewalk

Try an elliptical trainer. The tracks never touch the ground, so there is almost no impact on the spine.

Biking is good too. For people who feel better leaning forward, try an upright exercise bike. For those who feel better reclining, try a recumbent bike (with a lumbar back support)

Water therapy is gentle. The water provides buoyancy and mild resistance, but no impact or stress on the body

Strengthen your core. Abdominal and back muscles need to be specifically targeted with strengthening exercise in order to support the spine. Pilates and yoga focus on strengthening the core trunk muscles.

 

Pain Management Tips – Posture and ergonomics

 

Look at your chair. Make sure the back of the chair supports the inward curve of your lower back, your chest is open, elbows are comfortable at 90 degree angles, upper back is straight, your knees are at 90 degree angles, and your feet are flat on the floor.

Don’t slouch. It stresses the back and causes the ribs to curve forward, depressing breathing.

Use pillows. Support your spine while sleeping by using pillows to reduce stress. One very supportive position is to lie on your side in the fetal position with a pillow between your knees and another pillow between your arms as if you were hugging it.

Push. If you have to move a heavy object, use a dolly or call a friend to help. If you are moving it without a dolly, push – don’t pull.

The body has its own wisdom and pain is often a reminder that it may be time to attend to a certain area which is giving pain signals or discomfort.

For information about online Pain Management classes at Ariana Institute, visit http://www.arianainstitute.com/ce-online/.

For information about onsite Pain Management classes at Ariana Institute, visit http://www.arianainstitute.com/ce-online/#painmanagement.

Ariana Vincent directs the Ariana Institute in Austin, Texas, which offers continuing professional development for massage therapists. Ariana is a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Massage Therapy Instructor who has practiced massage therapy and bodywork for thirty years. Her highest aspiration, personally and professionally, is to facilitate the integration of mind, body and spirit, and to ultimately allow a state of balance to effortlessly and peacefully become an integral part of everyday life.