Saturday, September 28, 2019

September; Pain Awareness Month

We help people resolve pain issues all year long, but I just saw September was dedicated to pain awareness and a good time to announce the new law coming into effect in 2020, requiring physicians to educate their patients on alternate methods of pain reduction, that include massage therapy, yoga therapy and Ayurveda as options for reducing and often eliminating pain.

Pain receptors called neurons are on one end of nerve cells and on the other end is an axon, which connects to the spinal cord. When the pain receptor is activated, it sends a signal through the nerve, and subsequently through peripheral nerves, up the spine and neck to the brain via synapses between each neuron, eventually landing at the thalamus in the brain, which is a sorting station that sends the signals to the appropriate part of the brain. Signals are sent to the somatosensory cortex (responsible for physical sensation), the frontal cortex (in charge of thinking), and the limbic system (linked to emotions).

It seems there are several factors that affect how a person experiences pain.
In addition to the gate control theory of the thalamus are differences in emotional and psychological state; memories of previous pain; upbringing; expectations of and attitudes towards pain; beliefs and values; age; sex; and social and cultural influences.

Hence the experience of pain differs from person to person.

From the Ayurvedic viewpoint, vata (ether and air) are responsible for movement, and thereby govern the nervous system and the sensory pathway. When there is either an injury or an excess or irregularity of vata in the system, the nervous system will activate more, affecting pain level and perception.

Chronic pain can persist for months or even years after an initial injury and can be difficult to treat. People with chronic pain may experience sleeplessness, anxiety and depression, all of which are vata disorders and can compound the problem. 

However, support and help are available, often in the form of a multidisciplinary approach and with skillful integration of body/mind and contemplative practices of Ayurveda, massage and Yoga Therapy, where we work holistically, from the level of the brain, nervous system, mind and emotions, to the physical body and all aspects of a person’s daily routine and life.

This is accomplished with a combination of massage and bodywork modalities, yoga therapy tools and techniques such as appropriate movement, breathing, yoga nidra; a specific form of guided imagery that promotes very deep relaxation and integration of the brain and the nervous system and incorporating appropriate diet, herbal support and daily and season routines all prescribed according to the person’s Ayurvedic doshic condition and assessment.

By utilizing these methods, we can reduce the root causes of pain and its perception, whether they are of a pitta- inflammatory, kapha- accumulated toxins, or vata-dryness, movement and/or sensory impressions and nervous system conductivity and bring a person back to balance. 

The practices of shirodhara and yoga nidra are important for neuroplasticity and integration of the brain and nervous system, and change conditioned patterns in order to create a new normal without pain. The use of specific types of oils and appropriate styles of application or massage are best for calming the nervous system, for vata or pitta imbalances and dry, lymphatic drainage with silk gloves and/or powders work best for kapha imbalances.

These are therapeutically combined into a personalized treatment plan or panchakarma program for optimum results, (see previous blog or visit).

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