Yoga offers numerous benefits to people who suffer from chronic pain. The gentle stretching and free flowing motions utilized during the practice of yoga can help alleviate pain and restore function. Yoga can be effective at reducing muscle spasm and can help improve overall body flexibility. Yoga also teaches awareness of proper body alignment and correct posture, both important aspects of a well-functioning body.
Massage therapy is a common treatment that is used in multidisciplinary pain management, often in conjunction with physical therapy. Research has shown that massage relieves muscle spasm, heightens blood circulation and lymph flow, lowers blood pressure, and increases production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural analgesics . Massage applies pressure to tender points—spots of muscle damage that are tender and sensitive—and relieves pain.
Myofascial release is another massage technique that seeks to relieve pain from damaged fascia, or connective tissue. Injured fascia can cause pain and tension in areas of the body near the injury or even far from it; myofascial release is about the application of gentle, continuous pressure to the injured site. The tissue is gently stretched along the direction of the muscle fibers until resistance is felt. That position is then held until the soft tissue releases, and then the process is repeated to extend all tissues fully.
Accupuncture is an ancient practice in Chinese medicine. It is a technique where fine needles are inserted into the skin at particular pressure points. Investigators into the efficacy of this procedure argue that this needling of the skin excites endorphins that improves pain relief. Some patients find that the needles work best when inserted near the focus of their pain. The anesthetic qualities of acupuncture are documented, and the length of relief varies by patient and type of treatment. It is not recommended for patients with blood clotting problems or pregnant women.
Chiropractic adjustment potentially can offer benefits to the chronic pain patient. In the right patient, physical manipulation that frees up joint restrictions can give a patient increased range of motion and permit them to move easily and with far less pain. Spinal manipulation can be effective at decreasing pain from muscle spasms and tension. Along with physical therapy, chiropractic care is often a component of a pain management plan for those with back and neck pain.
Qigong is a 5000 year old practice originating in China for health and spiritual discipline. Before there was acupuncture and Chinese medicine, there was qigong. It is a series of slow moving exercise and meditation, which quiets the mind, stimulates health, increases vitality and longevity. Qigong combines movement and breath to gather vibrant healthy qi, and exchange it with any unhealthy qi. This is called “energy cultivation” and we store this balanced qi within our body for future use. Qi is the vital energy or the life essence of every living thing in nature. If there is life, there is qi. A blockage in qi flow within the body can create stagnation, or a deficiency. This can show up as disease, pain, insomnia, memory loss, fatigue, poor health, negative emotions, or more. With daily practice, qigong offers us a holistic approach or whole body approach to more vitality, improved health, and overall well-being.
What are the benefits of Qigong? Benefits include calming the mind, reducing stress, decreasing pain, increasing flexibility, improving circulation, better breathing, boosting the immune system, and more efficient cellular function. It also has a psychological aspect and helps to remove negative feelings, worries and anxiety. One gains a more joyful attitude and optimism. In Sheng Zhen Qigong, the Qigong of Sacred Truth, there are three main functions: to improve health, to remove negative emotions and thoughts, and to open up one’s heart to the positive aspects in life.