Four Ways You Can Master Chronic Pain

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Today's blog post is from guest writer, Jackie Waters.

Jackie is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com.

Four Ways You Can Master Chronic Pain

If you have recently been diagnosed with some form of chronic pain, you may still be dealing with the shock or disbelief that comes with the diagnosis. Whether you suspected a condition or did not see the diagnosis coming, you may feel alone and vulnerable right now, but you aren't. There are many others out there who have been facing this issue, people who can teach you how they've managed and offer support to you. However, if you need time to adjust before reaching out, here are some things you can do yourself to begin your journey with chronic pain.

Create a Peaceful Home

It may seem simple, but having a peaceful space at home is going to be such a blessing. If you're having a bad day, being able to come home and know that it is entirely your sanctuary may help make a difference. Keeping your home decluttered will not only make your life easier overall, it will make it easier to clean, even on days when you just want to curl up in bed. On those days, if your home is filled with fabrics and textures that feel soft and comforting against your skin, you may find it more relaxing. In addition, you can bring in a diffuser with 100 percent pure essential oils or essential oil candles that can fill your home with an aroma you love.

Discover Relaxation Techniques

Finding ways to relax, especially when feeling stressed or harried, can seem next to impossible. That's why it is important to practice relaxation techniques each and every day. Once you have built a routine, it will be easier to rely on when your pain is particularly demanding, or even just when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious. There are breathing techniques to help you focus and methods to help ground and center yourself. It is important to find something that works for you, rather than forcing something you think should work.

Maintain Gentle Exercise

When the pain is active, you may not want to exercise. It may seem to make it worse at first. But, if you do not make yourself push through the initial discomfort, there can be no room for growth or improvement. You'll need to ease into it and take your time. Talk to your doctors about a regimen that will be best for you and work with them as you go. They will know what is safest and best for long-term pain management.

Acceptance

This may be the trickiest of all. It may feel like you have no control over your situation, or that you are at the mercy of your body. You have to find a way to convince yourself that this is not the case. There will be difficult days, but they do not need to define you. You are not your chronic pain. You are an individual who lives with a condition and does the best you can do. It's understandable that you may feel depressed about your diagnosis, but it is imperative you pull yourself out of any lingering victimhood mentality. You're not a victim. This condition does not and will not own you. Part of overcoming this may be reaching out to others for help, having open conversations with your doctor, and learning not to ignore or downplay what pain you're in. If you are honest about your pain, your doctor can more accurately assist you in management.

The first part of any recovery is going to be letting go of blame or a sense of misfortune. It is important to always remember that you are so much more than your condition, and that there are people out there who will be happy to help you on your journey to living your best life. With support, by creating the healthiest environment for yourself, and by taking excellent care of your body and mind, you may be able to master your chronic pain.

 

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Cupping: A Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

CAM is a popular term for health and wellness therapies that are not a part of conventional medicine (conventional typically meaning going to the medical doctor to be prescribed medication for various ailments and/or having surgery.) Complementary means treatment is used along with conventional medicine, and alternative means treatment is used instead of conventional medicine.

Cupping is a type of CAM that we’ve recently added to our list of services thanks to Lindsey, our newly certified ACE Massage Cupping practitioner. A small amount of cupping creates a lot of change in the tissues, therefore, this is being offered as an add-on service in which it will be incorporated into 10-20 minutes of your massage session should you choose to add it. Cupping therapy achieves powerful results in pain reduction, scar reduction, joint mobilization, releasing tight, contracted muscle tissue, pre- and post- operative therapy, lymph drainage, detoxification, and athletic performance enhancement.

Cupping is a skin-surface treatment that has been used for many centuries in Asia and Europe. The goal is to move stagnant fluids in the body. Each treatment involves placing several cups on the patient’s skin and creating a vacuum or suction. According to Young Ki Park, DO “This vacuum causes the skin under the cups to rise, which causes skin pores to expand and discharge accumulated toxins and waste products from under the skin” (Braun and Simonson, p.505), thus moving blood and lymph fluid. Dr. Park also states that, “The healing principle of cupping is the cleansing of the blood” (Braun and Simonson, p.505), which improves circulation and assists the body in healing. Another benefit to this process is that after a cupping treatment, aromatherapy (another CAM) can be much more effective when applied to the skin, as the oils are more easily absorbed by the expanded pores and dispersed quickly throughout the body because of the increase in circulation.

The types of cups that can be used for this therapy are glass, bamboo, earthenware, and silicone. Silicone cups are what you will be treated with at our facility. Silicone cups are pliable, creating their own suction and easily moving over the body. Their transparency also allows the therapist to monitor the condition of the skin. The skin color is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the treatment so the therapist can make adjustments accordingly.

The uniqueness of this modality lies in the fact that instead of exerting pressure on the different points of the body for healing, suction is used to tug the skin, tissues, and muscles upwards. The cups are used in a variety of strokes and stationary positions to loosen tissue, remove adhesions, relieve inflammation, and detoxify and tone the body. This can help accelerate change in your body if you have scar tissue, restricted range of motion, acute or chronic pain from inflammation or injury, poor circulation, toxicity build up, cellulite, or general stuck tension.

Cupping is also used in acupuncture as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) technique, so it is within the scope of practice of acupuncturists as well. The cupping technique applied by massage therapists is more for working with the fascia and does not involve TCM.  Acupuncturists receive more in-depth training in cupping and are able to offer a wider variety of cupping methods than a massage therapist. Acupuncture is another great CAM that can be added to your wellness routine, and it compliments massage nicely.

Massage cupping is the mildest form of cupping but can sometimes leave a mark due to the suction action of the cups on the skin, which is what pulls up stagnant blood, metabolic wastes,  toxins, inflammatory compounds, etc. out of the tissues. This depends on the condition of the person’s tissues being treated, so cupping marks may or may not happen. The compounds released are then reabsorbed from the interstitial fluids and processed out of the body over the next 2-5 days and the marks, if any, disappear.

Whether you are trying it for the first time, getting back into the swing of things, or continuing your healing journey, cupping can be a very effective tool in regaining balance in your body.

Lindsey applies the most mild form of cupping, so it is a great place to start.

May this new year be full of health and vitality for you.


Authors: Rhonda Hancock & Lindsey Foster

References:

Braun, Mary Beth & Simonson, Stephanie (with Park, Young Ki DO) (2008). Introduction to Massage Therapy (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

What Is The Difference Between Therapeutic, Relaxation, And Deep Tissue Massage?

(An Excerpt From our FAQ page)

There are two basic types of massage when you strip out all the fancy names and special techniques. Many of the techniques utilized in each style can be the same, yet many are exclusive to a style. It is the intent, strategy, and the application of a technique that changes its purpose. It is important to clarify your goals for a massage with the therapist so that there is a clear understanding of the overall outcome desired.


Relaxation massage is mostly used for reducing stress.

The goal is to feel good right now, or “in the moment”, and to detach the mind from the worries of daily life for a while. Finding a bit of “peace” is the goal, and it is helpful to have a reminder of what that feels like in our fast paced lives. This does not mean it cannot be therapeutic however. For those with psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, or for those in addiction recovery, it can be very therapeutic. The techniques utilized are generally flowing and rhythmic, and of a lighter pressure. Also, techniques requiring client participation, such as stretching and active release techniques, are usually avoided.


Therapeutic massage is used primarily for addressing physical problems and pain.

The techniques used can be uncomfortable, or even painful, depending upon the severity of the problem. The payoff however, is that one will possibly be feeling better for days, weeks, or until the next injury. This is not to say that treatment oriented work will be painful, but that it can be. Some treatment techniques are actually very gentle, but may require more time, such as myofascial release. Many times a client may need some therapeutic work before relaxation work can have any lasting impact. It is hard to relax if the shoulder is painful, thus there is a close relationship between the two. Therapeutic techniques can vary wildly from deep focused work, stretching and range of motion, or extremely gentle and slow myofascial release. Much attention is payed to the patterns of dysfunction within the structure, and many times the source of the problem is not the area that hurts.


Deep tissue massage is a widely used, but very subjective term, and its meaning can vary among therapists and clients.

Some therapists think of deep tissue as just a heavy handed relaxation massage. In other words they do the same thing as a relaxation massage, but they use a lot more pressure without focusing on problem areas. Other therapists view deep tissue as treatment/therapeutic work, and will focus solely on the problems a client describes. Again, be sure to clarify your ultimate goal for any session so that there is no confusion, and to ensure that you and the therapist are on the same page.


We kept Deep Tissue Massage on our menu simply because many people know the term regardless of their personal definition. When new clients request this, we simply seek more clarification of their goals and proceed from there.

The reality is that many clients want something somewhere in between relaxation and therapeutic. Using a description of what you want such as “effective, but not painful” can be helpful for the therapist to dial into just what you want.

 

  Josh