Friday, January 28, 2011

Stress, Stress Responses and Health

  Stress is a term coined by Hans Selye to describe the stimulus that an individual receives from either inner or outer sources.That is to say, any input, whether physiological, psychological or environmental, we receive is a stress on us. The problem we have is that we confuse the input or stimulus with the response.

  Selye also said that there were different types of stress. One type that resulted in unhealthy responses he termed Distress. The other that resulted in positive effects he named Eu-stress.

    Dis-tress may be a case of a physical input. A noisy neighbor causes us to lose sleep and feel tired and unfocused at our work the next day. Eu-stress can be having a neighbor that has us over for a lively get-together that lasts until the wee hours, which we savor with fond memories the next day.

   As you can see by the way Selye categorized the different stresses that it is not a matter of what the input is, but rather a matter of its outcome, our response to it, that dictates whether stress is positive or negative. Popular culture has dictated that stress is bad when it actually has neutral value. The most important issue is what Selye termed the Stress Response. How do we respond to the inner and outer messages that we receive moment-to-moment, day-to-day throughout our lives?Will we over-react with dramatic life-or-death responses, or will we calmly take in the stimulus and react appropriately?

   A central component of how we react and respond to stress is the organization of our nervous system and organ systems. We have what is called an Autonomic nervous system that controls 80% of the functions in our bodies. It has two major aspects. The Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic.

   The Sympathetic controls the immediate survival, “fight or flight”, functions like breathing and heart rate, glucose and adrenaline production, muscle tension and pain response.

   The Parasympathetic controls long-term survival functions like digestion, elimination, tissue regeneration and healing. Each works interdependently with the other, balancing their functions like two people on a see-saw. When one side is “up” or active, the other is “down” or quiet. So if one side is over-active or “stays on” too long, the other side can suffer. If there is too much Sympathetic reaction the long-term health of the body suffers. If there is too much Parasympathetic reaction, we could get run over by a truck.

   In our hectic society too much attention is paid to “fight or flight” so we are conditioned to react to stress as if it is an imminent survival issue. This results in over-stimulation, exhaustion, and malnutrition, along with the delay of our tissue repair functions for our circulatory systems and other organ functions.

   We need to practice our relaxation, where our calm response helps the Parasympathetic function can swing into action. Learning that a relaxed state is normal and natural state and maintaining that state is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Finding a balance between the Sympathetic portion and Parasympathetic portion helps our bodies operate in harmony.

   Bowenwork has a unique capacity to initiate activity in the
Parasympathetic, which is an integral part of its success in accelerating healing. Each session of Bowenwork begins by deeply relaxing the body, bringing the Parasympathetic into action to jump-start healing. Bowenwork reminds us of our natural healing state and of our powerful capacity to heal with the proper stress response.

Please feel free to comment on these posts. I look forward to the interplay.

Kevin Minney

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Helping Carpal Tunnel and Repetitive Stress Injuries

      Carpal Tunnel or wrist and hand pain problems are issues we hear a lot about. . Friends, family or colleagues tell us about their wrist pain. We see the effects quite frequently these days in the form of wrist and forearm splints. We may hear that they have been told that can be done to help the condition short of surgery, which may not have a positive outcome either. It would seem our friends and family with these problems is going to have to suffer. That shouldn’t have to be the case.

    Carpal Tunnel syndrome can be defined as a condition that arises from repeated trauma to the nerves supplying the wrist and hand. Hence, they are also known as repetitive stress injuries. The nerves lay within the channel called the carpal tunnel. The symptoms are pain and nerve sensations including numbness and loss of strength as the nerves are further traumatized. It can lead to permanent disability if not addressed correctly.

   The surgical solution is to “open the channel” by cutting ligament and tissue supporting the structure of the tunnel and the wrist. This can provide more space but it begs the question, “ How did the tunnel become squeezed in the first place?”

   Why slice open a space that has been maintained with exactness for decades until the onset of the problem? The bones of the carpal tunnel have not grown together. It is the soft tissues that have changed the orientation of the wrist and forearm to produce the pain. That soft tissue issue doesn’t need to be addressed by surgery.

    Other repetitive stress injuries can involve various parts of the extremities. The one affecting muscles of the forearm, called Pronator Teres Syndrome can actually be the real cause of carpal tunnel pain. The Pronator Teres becomes overcontracted and serves to squeeze the carpal tunnel, even though it is located farther up the forearm. When the space surrounding the brachial nerve and artery, along with the tendon that raises the arm to the side, the supraspinatus is involved it is referred to as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. This can result is carpal tunnel symptoms as well. It too is from an imbalance in the musculature of the shoulder and chest wall.

  The latest findings are showing that bilateral or two-handed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is more likely a problem with the Thoracic Outlet than with the Carpal Tunnel. Also it has been said that “carpal tunnel” injuries can often be double-crush injuries, compression injuries at two sites, with one site being located farther up the arm than the carpal tunnel. If a double-crush injury is treated only at the wrist for carpal tunnel, half the injury goes untreated and improvement is slim or nil.

    Since the majority of repetitive stress injuries involve imbalance in soft-tissue, such as overcontraction or even inflammation, Bowenwork with its natural balancing action can be of immediate and lasting relief for these problems. Before considering invasive and irreversible procedures such as surgery, consider a gentle, non-invasive procedure such as Bowenwork for fast safe and gentle relief.

I look forward to your comments.
Thank you,
Kevin Minney

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Different Look at Tendonitis and Bursitis

Tendinitis and Bursitis

As we start a New Year there are often New Year’s resolutions we make involving exercise and healthy activity. Unfortunately, in following those resolutions too enthusiastically we may be trying to build our exercise and activity level too quickly, as if we were trying to go 60 miles per hour immediately from a dead stop.
The result is often mild to severe joint and muscle pain. While some soreness is a natural product of exercise, when we have extended pain that doesn’t respond quickly and easily we will pay a call on our physician for help. The physician may say that we have a case of Tendonitis or Bursitis, depending on whether the area affected is between a muscle and a joint or directly at a joint. The most common recommendation will be rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication, together with the thought that “it should clear right up”. We dutifully begin our rest and ice applications, pick up and begin to take our meds and wait for the pain to decrease.
The story can be picked up a few days later, with no change in our pain level, except for increased stomach upset from the medication. We ask our physician what else to do and are told there is nothing else to be done, either “ it will improve” or “ it is just a part of growing older”. This is not what we wanted to hear, or keep feeling. Where is our healing capacity? Where is our resilience? Are we becoming decrepit?
Of course we are not falling apart even though we have begun to think so. It may be that we have been given a series of what can be called “arms-length” diagnoses. “Arms-length” meaning the physician is keeping us at a safe distance when they have no concrete answer to our problem. This isn’t to criticize the doctor; rather it is just an example of a profession-wide gap in training on musculo-skeletal and soft tissue issues. Physicians don’t have tools in their toolkits to address these issues, so they may resort to the arms-length suggestions to pacify their patients.
If we use a system like Bowenwork that was designed to address musculo-skeletal injuries and soft-tissue problems, we immediately have more tools in our toolkit and can provide solutions that are fast safe and effective. What may seem to be tendonitis may be a muscle imbalance on either side of a joint or an over-contracting muscle, in either case Bowenwork can help. What looks like bursitis may be a misalignment of the joint surfaces, which Bowenwork can help, and without any joint manipulation, or “cracking”. If it is truly tendonitis or bursitis, there are specific protocols for each issue in Bowenwork’s toolkit.
So if we are looking to start correctly and to keep going with our exercise resolutions, Bowenwork can be central in insuring that. Bowenwork can also be great as a tune-up to keep us humming along well after we have achieved our exercise and fitness goals.