Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back Pain -A Misdiagnosed Epidemic with Safe Pain-free Answers?

Back pains....Image by JD'na via Flickr
Low Back Pain- A Misdiagnosed Epidemic?

   Low Back Pain is a problem that is said to affect 80% of the United States population at some time through their lifetimes. Even the common cold would be pleased to reach that many people. There are billions of dollars in lost productivity, medical expenses ranging for prescriptions of anti-inflammatories through the strongest painkillers to Physical therapy, exercise, chiropractic and osteopathic therapies and even surgical intervention. Yet there is no clear understanding in mainstream medical practice of the real causes of low back pain. 

   Modern MRI imaging can show us the picture of a bulging or herniated disc with the physician’s focus being on the repair or removal of the injured tissue.  The disc injury has the potential to mechanically press on a nerve root and its herniated material is inflammatory and toxic when in contact with the nerve, resulting in pain and debility for the client but the treatment for the injury often does not address the cause of the disc injury or the lack of recovery after the disc injury has been addressed.

   The explanation of how and why the disc came to be in that state is usually omitted.  An analogy might be when our front tire shows abnormal wear, getting the tire replaced without seeing if we have an alignment problem that is causing the wear. We can continue to replace our tires or have on-going therapy, epidural injections and even surgery without addressing the issue that fundamental to our problem. 

   Our spine not only carries the central communication cable of our nervous system, the spinal cord, it is the structural “suspension bridge” for our body. As the central structural member, it is intrinsically linked to our lower body movement components, the legs, through the pelvis and sacrum, and to our breathing and upper body support, the ribcage. These links mean it is susceptible to influence from an imbalance in the pelvis, sacrum and ribcage. 

    In the case of the pelvis an imbalance can mean that the halves of the pelvis are not level leaving the lower back to have an uneven force acting on it, tipping it as if standing sideways on a hill. This puts a force on the lumbar vertebrae and opens up more space on one side of the spine than the other providing a space for the disc to herniate into. 

   In the case of the sacrum it can rotate to support the spine but fail to return to neutral, putting a torquing force into the lower back. 

   The ribcage can sustain an injury or restriction that limits its normal movement during breathing. While the body is taking its 11-13,000 breaths each day a side-bending or torquing signal is sent through the spine with each breath.

   In very few cases are these basic inputs to the imbalance and injury of the spine considered, let alone addressed. The result is greater costs for the client in terms of continuing pain and debility and in increased medical costs.

  Addressing all of the areas mentioned with minimal intrusion on the body is what are called for. Hanna Somatics re-educates the body to proper sequential function, Strain-Counterstrain relieve imbalances throughout the torso, pelvis and legs. Bowenwork  addresses the spine and its cooperative actions with the pelvis, sacrum and ribcage. Using functional restorative exercise like Muscle Balance and Function will provide for stable continuity of these systems. Providing a comprehensive method of quickly and powerfully addressing low back pain for long-term relief and significantly reduced costs is what these modalities can do.

-Kevin Minney

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Restless Leg- Time to give it a rest?

   Restless Legs syndrome is a very uncomfortable affliction affecting somewhere between 3% to more than 15% of the population. It is painful, but more seriously it is a sleep thief, keeping sufferers from having comfort and uninterrupted sleep. Cumulatively this can harm health, concentration, relationships, driving safety and work performance. Restless Leg Syndrome  (or RLS) is hard to diagnose. There can be a variety of issues involved, including an associated illness. The overall symptom is discomfort in the legs that appears after beginning any rest.   
   Sufferers have a strong urge to move their legs, which they may be unable to resist. The need to move can be accompanied by sensations that have been described as “creeping”, “itching”, “pulling”, “creepy-crawly”, “tugging”, or “’gnawing”. Symptoms start or increase when resting, the longer the rest, the greater chance the symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be. Symptoms are worse in the evening; postures that can be bothersome during the night are not a problem during the day. Symptoms can reduce when legs are moved, with complete or partial relief coming for as long as the movement continues.       
   RLS often runs in families. It can appear as the result of an underlying condition such as peripheral neuropathy, kidney failure, Parkinson’s and diabetes. Successful treatment of the underlying disease can provide relief of the RLS. Anemia and low iron levels can contribute to worsening of the condition. ADHD is common in children and adults with RLS. More than 80 percent of people with RLS also experience a more common condition known as periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD). PLMD is characterized by involuntary leg twitching or jerking movements during sleep that typically occur every 10 to 60 seconds, sometimes throughout the night.    Unlike RLS, the movements caused by PLMD are involuntary-people have no control over them                                                                        
    There has been no research done on the myofascial nature of RLS, as that is not a road that pharmaceutical companies can make a profit on. That said there is ample physical evidence for a fascial basis for RLS, with it cutting across age, gender, and illness lines. The fascial tissue of the body is a common point. 
    If the fascia can be released of excessive tension, then the need to move can go away. And that, with Bowenwork, is what it does. While there have been no controlled clinical tests done using Bowenwork on RLS and PLMD, anecdotal evidence from around the world points to Bowen as having a simple drug-free solution to RLS that can give from 6 months to several years of relief.
Please check on for practitioners located around the world.
I'd love to hear what you think of this post and any requests you have for future posts.
Kevin Minney 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stress- Causing you Distress? 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.
   Using ways  initiate activity in the Parasympathetic, is an integral part of protecting our capacity to accelerate healing. Meditation, and visualization, can be powerful self-care tools to restore parasympathetic balance. Bowenwork is a modality that has a natural shift for the body into the parasympathetic state. Each session of Bowenwork begins by deeply relaxing the body, bringing the Parasympathetic into action to jump-start healing. These methods remind us of our natural healing state and of our powerful capacity to heal with the proper response to stress.

   I hope this article has provoked some interest and thoughts on the subject od stress and our various healthy and healthy responses to it. I hope to hear from you readers on the subject. I welcome your comments and contributions.
Kevin Minney 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Injuries and Injury Recovery

   Injuries, how do we recover from them? What is happening when we hurt ourselves and then are restored to health? What mechanism is at work that brings (or doesn’t bring) us healthy tissue, comfortable movement, an end to pain? We take for granted that we heal from a cut or a burn, that bruise will “go away”. What is really happening when these things go on?

   Organization, reorganization, communication and instant feedback all happen as a result of our healing process. We can see action taking place from the most visible level like changing the external posture of the body to accommodate a restriction brought about by the injury to the microscopic level where individual cells move from other parts of the body to assist in tissue regrowth. Beyond that we can measure organizing changes in tissue that we cannot even see.

   There is even electrical signaling entirely separate from nerve conduction going on in wound healing. Different levels of electrical potential are set up at the edges of the wound to align the cells that will be growing across the open wound1. Not only is the body sending building blocks for the healing of an area, it is “remote controlling” the arrangement of the blocks at a level that is entirely invisible.

   We have an astounding mechanism for repair and recovery available to us. Astounding, ultra-detailed, subtle and ready to help whenever we need it. And we need it every moment, since cells are being replaced every second of every day. New tissue to replace old and worn tissue completely enough so that it is said we have an entirely “new” body each 7 years.

   Well it may be that some bodies are “new” but you might be saying that yours doesn't feel particularly “new” or even completely recovered. Why is that with such a fantastic innate healing mechanism we don't often heal easily quickly or completely? What's wrong? Perhaps nothing is wrong as much as misdirected.

   There is a framework that is used to organize the involuntary activities of the body, from digesting to fear response, from breathing to keeping our our general muscle tone so we don't fall over. We call it the autonomic nervous system or ANS for short. It has two divisions, Sympathetic and Para-sympathetic, the  former focused on our short-term survival and the latter on our long-term survival.

   Sympathetic is our “fight or flight” part. It deals with muscle tension, blood flow heart rate, adrenalin production and our reaction to and mediation of pain. It is the “now” side. We run from the tiger, pull our hand from a hot stove, etc. Para-sympathetic is what we use between the incidents of fight or flight to keep ourselves fed, rested and renewed. Nutrition, cell growth and recovery, sleep all come under this divisions. Simple enough, two balanced parts to the mechanism that keeps us safe and healthy.

   Unfortunately the method of balance between these two divisions is a reciprocal one. When one is active the other is much less active. So if we have situations where there is no let-up in the “fight or flight” inputs like constant stress or chronic pain, healing has to be put on the back burner, to wait or be done in only a partial way. The body keeps tending to an emergency situation without taking care of its long-term needs.

   What can we do? We can focus on reducing pain to help the parasympathetic side take over. We can do breathing and meditation and visualization exercises such as Serge King's to relax and focus our healing. We can initiate gentle movement sometimes passive movement if we can't comfortably use our muscles yet. We can rest. allowing our bodies to workinternally istead of having to tend to externals. We can use a modality that can immediately move the body's reactions out of Sympathetic and into Para-sympathetic and facilitate healing, like Bowenwork or Reiki or Quantum Touch We can use a modality that pinpoints the body's attention on remembering its healing mission and generating supportive communication throughout the body to speed our healing. We can use Bowenwork, the modality that works with the body to relieve stress and recover from injury.

1Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance-James Oschmann- Butterworth Heinemann- 2003

 ©Kevin Minney

If you'd like to add a comment or actively disagree with me I welcome the opportunity to connect. Thanks for your time.