By MEGAN HOWE
Conquering Chronic Pain: It Can Be Done
Are you looking for alternative treatments for dealing with physical pain? Whether or not your pain is a result of a chronic issue or brought on by the stress of the holiday season, if it is robbing you of your joy it should be addressed.
Synergy Myofascial Release & Rehab, Inc., is an outpatient physical therapy where a different approach is taken to treating pain—a one-on-one, hands-on, specialized approach to treating pain known as myofascial release.
So what exactly does Myofascial mean? “Myo” is a root word meaning of muscle or relating to muscle; “fascial” describes the connective tissue in our bodies called the fascia.
The fascia runs throughout our whole body and is one continuous system that has no beginning or end. The fascia is often referred to as a spider web—which is all connected. Typically the fascia is in a fluid-like state until it is disrupted. The fascia goes all the way down to the cellular level in our bodies. There are many different things that can disturb our fascial system and cause adhesions to develop. So when they do develop, the whole web or fascial system is disrupted which in some incidences creates full body pain.
Day after day of sitting in a sedentary position at the desk in front of the computer can cause a patient to develop muscle imbalances throughout their body. This repetitive sitting and posturing create holding patterns in these muscles and our fascia, in turn, shortens along with the muscle fibers and acts like glue holding us in this position.
Typically this person will have shortened knee extensors (hamstrings), hip flexors (psoas), increased lumbar lordosis and increased sacral flexion, shortened pectoral muscles causing a rounded shoulder posture and in turn causing a forward head position, and can start looking like their ears are connected to their shoulders.
Other times our fascia can become disturbed when we have traumatic accidents like a whiplash injury in a vehicular accident or a fall down the stairs where our muscular system goes into spasms and the fascia becomes adhered or constricted throughout our bodies in an attempt to protect us from further insult or injury. Other types of injury occur in surgeries where scar tissue develops and adheres to the fascia.
So how and why does this cause pain? It is thought that when the fascia becomes adhered that it can put up to 1,000 pounds per square inch of pressure on our nerves, blood vessels, and other soft tissues making it hard, and sometimes next to impossible to move. The body begins to fight itself—it is like wearing a straight jacket and needing someone to loosen the strings. Your skin will become tight and no matter how much you stretch, you are unable to get relief of the tightness that quickly turns into pain. This pain starts causing sleep disturbances and wreaking havoc on your life.
The good news is relief can be found and myofascial release is the solution. This hands-on treatment to release the fascia starts with an evaluation to determine what has caused your pain and how your body is holding onto the pain. To identify these holding patterns with a holistic approach to finding the underlying causes to your pain, we will perform a postural analysis. Your therapist will then look at your skin mobility and flexibility of your muscles to pinpoint the imbalances that need to be addressed.
Myofascial release is performed with the therapist using their hands with gentle pressure to your tolerance to create a pull into the fascial layer that allows us to wait for the release to take place. This is where myofascial differs from massage. Instead of the therapist working on the tissue until it releases the therapist holds and waits of the fascia to release itself creating lasting results and decreased holding patterns.
Once we return you to your correct posture, we then incorporate flexibility and strength training into your treatment plan to maintain the goals we have achieved and decrease the risk of postural imbalances occurring again. This is a process and requires a commitment on your part to make the necessary changes of incorporating a healthy lifestyle of nutrition and exercise to create long-lasting results.
We believe that we are mind, body, spirit, and soul. We must look at the whole picture when trying to conquer our physical pain. It is as important to our physical bodies as to our spiritual body to feed in truth and life. Proper nutrition, hydration, meditation, physical exercise, and prayer are the foundation for wellness and healthy living.
Don’t let the stress of the holiday seasons interrupt this balance. Wellness can be achieved.
Megan Howe has 14 years of experience as a licensed physical therapist assistant and is the owner of Synergy Myofascial. Megan, her husband Blake, and son Parker attend and teach Sunday School St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Brandon.