What’s the cause?
You’ve been told the reason for your pain. Maybe it’s a herniated disc, maybe it’s arthritis, maybe it’s a tendon or ligament. But is your pain really that simple? Can all of your pain really be explained by that one thing? You probably have good days and bad days, and it’s not always clear what will make one day good and another day bad. After all, arthritis, herniated discs, and other problems don’t just magically disappear sometimes and reappear at other times!
Your cup overfloweth
Your pain threshold is like a cup. As long as what’s poured into the cup doesn’t overflow, you wouldn’t notice any problem. And several different liquids can be poured into the cup. Now think back on any treatment you’ve had. Were all possible contributors to your pain examined and addressed? Muscle strength, myofascial adhesions, if your nerves and joint surfaces slide properly. What about a movement analysis to make sure you’re not moving in a way that puts too much stress on your body? Most people are only told about the things that show up on an x-ray or MRI, but those snapshots don’t show the whole picture of you as a living, breathing, moving person!
Draining the cup
Maybe muscular tension adds to your ‘cup’. And days that you have more tension causes the cup to ‘overflow’ more resulting in more pain. On good days, you may have less tension. Addressing these other contributors can help you find relief you never thought was possible! You can have something in your cup all the time (like arthritis) without it overflowing if other things aren’t piled on. This is why some people have arthritis but don’t have pain. This may be why you have those better days.
The shrinking cup
Unfortunately, your ‘cup’ may not be the same size all the time. Think about a time you were stressed out or sad. You probably had more pain. People who have pain longer than 6 months, can also become more sensitive to pain signals. Think of this as the cup shrinking. When the cup is smaller, it takes less to make it overflow.
Fortunately, you can build a bigger cup! Research supports doing therapeutic exercise to help pain. By strengthening your muscles, improving your movement patterns, and stimulating your body, you increase the size of your cup.
The software solution
So overflow is the cause of pain and that happens when there’s too much being poured into the cup and when the cup is too small. The solution is to reduce what’s going into the cup as well as to build a bigger cup. Most clinicians who try to manage pain may work on both of these issues, but only halfway! They only work on the ‘hardware’. Addressing the hardware is working on physical things like strengthening the muscles or mobilizing the joints. Addressing the software is working on tuning the control of the body! This includes relaxing the muscles, desensitizing an area, changing harmful associations in the sensory region of the brain, reducing stress and fear, and more!
This is what makes my approach so different. As a physical therapist, I learned to work on the hardware. As a hypnotist, I learned to work on the software. As a holistic clinician, I help you update both of them – the two cannot be separated! If you’ve ever been to a clinician who looked at you as a collection of broken parts, even with all of their tinkering, you might not have found relief. Little did they know there was a person under all of that! I’ve worked with people where a simple exercise program was all that was needed. I’ve worked with people where clearing the traumatic memories of an injury that kept the pain alive was all that was needed.
Think back now
When you went for help, did your clinician analyze your functional movement patterns? Did they actually put their hands on you to feel how your joints move? Did they feel for restrictions in the skin, fascia, and muscles? Did they test your nerve mobility? Did they discuss your emotions about pain and how stress and fear can increase pain or even lock it in and prevent it from being released? Did they treat the many layers that contribute to pain or just one thing? Did they help you inhabit your body better or did they just try to change your body to ‘how it should be’? Did they help?
What to expect
When you have a comprehensive approach, problems are addressed much faster. Most people I work with are satisfied with their results in 3-6 sessions. Every session is different – we don’t waste time doing the same thing over and over. You should be moving forward with every visit, every week. I follow-up with my clients via email or text – in between visits and afterwards to make sure everything is progressing well. I love to hear back from people weeks and months down the road about the fun and amazing things they’ve been able to enjoy! The changes we make are generative – like a dropping a pebble in a lake. Once you learn to inhabit your body better, the waves ripples outward to have many more widespread effects.