I see many patients with back, neck and shoulder pain.
Some patients I see have excruciating pain like sciatica, arm pain, headaches and fibromyalgia. It is quite easy for them to only focus on wanting to get rid of the pain and to get back to whatever they want to do. That is a normal human want and need.
After exhausting all the usual and well accepted avenues for getting rid of your pain and nothing works, what do you do? You still go about your life in the same way scratching your head to wonder why nothing is working.
Many times, chronic neck, back and shoulder pain can have some environmental or lifestyle factors attached to the cause of your pain. In other words the patients beliefs, lifestyle and habits may have contributed to the injury in the first place!
I have said before on my you tube channel and in clinic with my patients, it is time to change the paradigm in which we look at and treat the human body. Long are the days in which you can blame the pain on only physical factors like a tight muscle, a stiff joint or poor posture. The body is more complex than that. Most of the research shows us that the less stress one experiences, the less pain they are in.
What is Stress?
Stress is a perception and what can cause stress in one person, may not affect in someone else. On a physiological level your body reacts to all types of stress in the same way. Your heart rate goes up, your breathing is faster and swallower, your blood pressure rises and your blood stream becomes flooded with adrenaline and cortisol.
This is the fight or flight response, so no matter whether you are being chased by a tiger or drinking a can of energy drink/coffee or soda your body will do the same thing.
We all know what it’s like to feel stressed, we say things like “this is stressful” or “I’m stressed”. We might be talking about times where we have lots to do and think about, or don’t have much control over what happens. We may have feelings of stress and overwhelm when we have demands placed on us that we find difficult to cope with.
This image was taken (and referenced below) from the book how to eat move and be healthy by Paul Chek and it shows how stress can be good and bad. It also shows that all the different types of stress add up. For example, if you only had one type of stress to deal with at one period in your life, you probably could cope with that. Many times, patients I work with have multiple sources of stress going on at one time that makes the whole picture a lot worse. Many deal with mental health complaints like depression and anxiety, either because of their chronic pain or other factors in their life.
Therefore, I will need to COACH not treat the person on how to best get the most out of their bodies that empower them to become the best or change they want to be. That may mean to coach them on how to best exercise for their particular health challenge or how to best eat so they have the fuel on daily basis to do what they do.
Instead, many people focus on their pain and not their health first. Being healthy, happy, rested and nourished devoid of physical imbalances, dysfunction, compensation and pain second – not the other way around.
Health is About Balance
As you can see from the image above, we need a balance in stress, we need some good and some bad stress. Just like the yin-yang symbol here, it holds its roots in Taoism/Daoism, a Chinese religion and philosophy. The yin, the dark side, is associated with shadows, femininity, and the trough of a wave; the yang, the light side, represents brightness, passion and growth.
Obviously as an Osteopath we help patients in pain and treat people for their pain. We need a balance of approaches and ultimately a holistic approach as the body is an integrated system of systems where one system will affect the other.
Health Takes Time…
We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day. Getting healthy on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level does take time and longer than 2 treatment visits in the Osteopathy clinic. After 2 visits, you may be feeling much better from your pain but your body may still not be resilient to withstand injury in the future. When the body is working optimally on a physical mental and emotional level there will be less dysfunction, compensation and strain that the body tries to deal with.
That is why I created a 6 – week back care coaching program. It has a balance of osteopathy treatments as well as one to one corrective exercise / holistic lifestyle coaching over a 6 week period.
This length of time only scratches the surface of what is possible with creating change. Ideally I would only see patients for a minimum of 12 weeks to see some change but this 6 week starting point is a KICK START in the right direction.
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