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Do You Have Chronic Pain?

When you stub your toe, that’s acute pain. You hurt your back, it aches for a few days, then doesn’t go away. That’s chronic pain. According to the American Pain Foundation, more than 25% of Americans over 20 say they’ve experienced pain that lasted longer than 24 hours, and 42% have endured pain lasting longer than a year. Chronic pain costs the US over $100 billion per year.

Healing chronic pain

Illustration of the pain pathway in René Desca...
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When you originally injured your back, for example, it may have caused your stomach, pelvis and legs to become tighter—your body braced itself against the pain. You can take muscle relaxers, massage, heat and ice your back, but if your body tightened up around the injury, the pain isn’t going away. You may relax the sore back muscles, but the other tight muscles will pull everything awry again, and you’ll be in pain again. Sometimes, people spend years bracing against pain, producing more tension and more pain than the original trauma.

Our healthcare system does an excellent job treating trauma. Our ERs are the best in the world. But according to author and MD Andy Weil, the US medical system is way behind the times treating chronic pain and illness. Chronic pain can often be healed with holistic “alternative” medicine—not commonly covered by insurance, or offered in hospitals.

A traumatic injury or chronic pain produces stress. One of the biochemical effects of stress is that body gets more physically tense, which causes more stress. Releasing chronic tension can be a huge aid in healing chronic pain.

Many holistic treatments focus on releasing the old tension and teaching the body-mind not to reproduce it. As you learn to relax, your body’s instinctual bracing against the pain relaxes, allowing your pain to reduce, allowing you to relax more. The vicious cycle of tension-to-pain is reversed.

For some of us, diet plays a huge part in treating pain. Just today I spoke to a client who told me getting off of wheat and dairy eliminated his joint pain. As a bonus, he lost 25 pounds. Simple holistic solutions of changing behaviors and releasing stress transform chronic pain. Expand your healthcare options to the noninvasive practices of holistic medicine. Consider treatments that you haven’t tried before. Sandpoint has a wealth of qualified, highly-trained practitioners in acupuncture, medical massage, Rolfing, and mindfulness meditation, just to name a few. Don’t suffer. Get help.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advance Rolfer, www.align.org, 265.8440.

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