Healing Solutions For You - Alternative and Integrative Healing Practices

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pain: Pros and Cons

Every sensation and function of the body has a purpose. This includes pain. Pain is the body's protective mechanism to signal that something is amiss. If you feel pain, your body's withdrawal reflex will cause you to recoil from the pain's source whether a hot stove or pressure on a broken toe. This is why I believe it is best to minimize the use of pain killers or anti-inflammatories for acute pain (only enough to keep you out of extreme pain). Too much medication can mask the pain so well that one may use an injured part before it is healed well enough. Acute pain may not be fun but it will go away as you heal. It has an important and valuable function. Where pain becomes bad is if it is chronic (ongoing). The good news is that there are many therapies to reduce extreme or chronic pain.

Pain can be necessary during certain therapies and undesirable during others. For example, while most chiropractic adjustments feel good or neutral, sometimes it can hurt if the joint space is jammed and the adjustment is difficult to achieve. In physical therapy or scar massage, necessary techniques to break up scarred or immobile tissue may cause pain. In general, with massage though, pain is not good. Some areas of tension may be sore when getting loosened. Sore is OK if you are still able to relax. If you tried to breathe deeply, you should still be able to. Cringing, flailing or having trouble breathing deeply indicate pain, and that the pressure needs to be reduced. It may just take a little longer or a more gradual approach to loosen the tissue but it usually will still release at a lighter pressure. Find a massage therapist who will work within your boundaries.

Pain does detrimental things to the body. Pain activates the sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response. In this state, the body produces adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol[1]. While these hormones help us in fight or flight, in the case of extreme or chronic pain they can cause hypertension, lowered immunity, weight gain, insulin resistance, anxiety, etc[2]. Working within a comfortable level during massage, however, is beneficial. The body relaxes and the tissue releases with the work. Touch releases endorphins, a biochemical which reduces pain and increases the feeling of well-being. Tissue healing increases when the body is relaxed. Stress hormones decrease[3]. This is why extreme and chronic pain are best avoided.

Among the most popular and effective therapies are therapeutic massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture, etc. Different bodies/conditions may respond better to certain approaches than others. Ask professionals in these fields for their recommendations or success with your condition(s).

[1] Tennant, Forest, MD. “Using Objective Signs of Severe Pain to Guide Opioid Prescription.” Pain Topics. Ed. Stewart B. Leavitt, MA, PhD. June 2008. Web. June 20, 2011. .

[2] Lam, Michael, MD, MPH. “Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue
(Adrenal Exhaustion).” Adrenal Fatigue Center. 2010. Web. June 20, 2011.

[3] Montagu, Ashley. Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971. Print.

Serenity Dylan, LMBT, NC License #6352 is a therapeutic massage therapist with nine years of experience. She lives and work in Asheville, NC (828) 808-8955 www.healingsolutionsforyou.com

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