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The Cycle of Pain

So you know what chronic pain is? Well, you are not alone. Back pain alone is the number one reason for doctors visits in North America, affecting half of all Canadians within a 6 month period, and 85% of Canadians within their lifetime ( You may be all too familiar with the cycle pictured above--an incidence of pain happens, you groan and measure your options (heat, ice, rest? doctor's visit? x-ray needed? might be time for a massage or acupuncture?). But if you are one of the many lucky folks whose injuries just don't seem to resolve, there is more going on in this picture.

Chronic pain is a complex picture of persistent pain (maybe greater than 6 weeks), decreased range of motion, psychoemotional factors, and local tissue and fluid changes. Any pain persisting beyond 6 weeks can start to reprogram the pathways in the brain, so the pain receptors are actually working overtime, and sensing tissue damage which may not actually even be there any more.

To add to the problem, the experience of pain can be isolating, overwhelming, and depressing. We don't have the stamina we used to have to do what we love, we have disrupted sleep or insomnia, we may have side effects from pain medications, or build up tolerances. We decreased our activity level to avoid pain, potentially overprotecting the area (and unfortunately, this just does not help our bodies move through the pain and heal). Basically, we've got a system of inflammation in the body that, once started, can be very difficult and frustrating to control.

Well folks, there's good news in the field of acupuncture and natural wellness! I myself have had these experiences and am pain-free today due to what I now know. It's basically just a matter of having the right information. So here's what we can do:

1. Reduce Inflammation - this is a complex process which is actually the body's healing response (a positive thing), but which can get out of hand quickly when the body is injured or imbalanced. Inflammation is increased with acidic foods, stress, lack of sleep, and unresolved emotions wreaking havoc on the nervous system.

2. Heal the Source of the problem - so this is obviously really dependent on why that pain is there in the first place. Is there a repetitive strain? Digestive issue? Hormone imbalance? Weakness of ligaments or arthritis? Work with a trained professional on this one to correctly find the root of your concern (symptoms are not random, it's just a matter of decoding them correctly)

3. Address scar tissue adhesions - these can have far-reaching impacts on the body. Based on the meridian system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, "qi" or vital organ reserve flows along pathways in the body, and can get disrupted just like when our garden hoses get a kink. This has a lot of correspondences in the body's physiology to fascia, and even bioelectrical pathways.

4. Do the emotional work - if you are finding yourself in a changed frame of mind after a diagnosis or injury, this is very understandable, is a normal part of health conditions, and is a great opportunity for us to learn something about ourselves. One of the parts I like best about Chinese Medicine is that there really is no difference between physical, mental, and emotional health; it's all part of one big whole, and in fact what's going on for one part is a big indicator for how to correct all the other aspects as well.

If you've never tried acupuncture, or if you are a seasoned vet but maybe weren't aware of all that acupuncture can do for you, book in with me for a free consultation. I would love the opportunity to work with you on your specific healing journey.

Yours in health,

Alix Jean, R.Ac., B.Sc, (Hons.)