There are many myths and misconceptions concerning the treatment of chronic pain. A wider perspective may give more effective solutions without the side effects of traditional procedures.
Much pain is chronic because of a lack of understanding of the causes and therefore the treatments are often inadequate and pain lingers unnecessarily. Deep Myofascial Release begins with a completely different perspective on what causes most chronic pain. As a result it is extremely rapid and effective.
Musculoskeletal pain, that is, pain in the muscles and joints such as back, knee, hip, shoulder or neck pain can be temporary and resolve itself. Often times it doesn’t and is considered chronic if it lasts six months or longer. The normal first response is to prescribe an over-the-counter analgesic or anti-inflammatory such as Advil, aspirin or Aleve. However, pain is a signal that something is wrong in the body and inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to an injury. These medications are only killing the messenger and don’t go to the source of the pain.
The main reason people suffer for months or years with conditions that can often be very easily and simply eliminated is that there is no specialty focused on these important tissues, so little research has been conducted in this field until recently. The resulting lack of understanding of the development of these conditions has left them with the label of “idiopathic”, that is, they have no known cause. Most treatment, therefore, are only stabs in the dark of how to handle the problem and based on some basic misconceptions.
MISCONCEPTIONS OF MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN
I will be referring to chronic muscle and joint pain that develops gradually, not as a result of a trauma or disease, though it may apply there also.
The following will clarify some of these erroneous ideas:
- Your joint pain is a not a consequence of aging. That is why many older people are not in constant pain. Chronic pain is a result of a process, and that process can easily be stopped or reversed if recognized and treated correctly.
- Your pain is not a result of degeneration of cartilage or bone. Hip replacement has become quite common, and is required supposedly because of wear and tear on the joint. Degeneration of cartilage of the joint as well as bone spurs are a consequence of constant tension on the joint. Relieving this tension can prevent this from occurring. The pain actually comes from the tension in the muscle and tendon and seldom directly from the loss of cartilage. Even in seemingly advanced cases, releasing this tension can often eliminate the pain.
- The origin of the problem is often not located where the pain is felt. Usually muscle and joint pain is caused in an area other than where it is experienced. Trigger points* in the shoulder blade can cause pain in the wrist or elbow for example and pain in the shoulder muscles can cause headaches. The tendonitis in your elbow or bursitis in your shoulder is a symptom. Often trigger points in the muscle create the tension that causes the pain. Relieving this tension will often allow the blood and lymph to flow and flush out the area, eradicating the problem.
- Eliminating the pain is not eliminating the problem. Often alleviating the problem by 20% eliminates the pain but the underlying problem can remain. Tension on the joints, which is below the level of pain, can still be destructive to the joints, causing bone spurs and cartilage degeneration.
- NSAID’s (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are not a solution. These drugs not only mask the pain, which is the signal that something is wrong, but they also stop the body’s own healing process. One can experience short-term relief, but at the cost of one’s overall health.
- Corticosteroids don’t help eliminate the problem. Steroids can lower inflammation and reduce or eliminate the pain, which mask the problem but one may consider the cost too high. Cortisone, for example, can lower the immune response, which is the body’s number one defense and may also cause thinning of the cartilage and weakening of the ligaments of the joint.
- Your muscle is not too weak. Especially common for sports injuries is the notion that the muscle needs to be strengthened to relieve the pain. The opposite is most often true. Tightness in the fascia and the muscle from trigger points is normally the cause of pain. Very commonly with knee problems, for example, one of the thigh muscles is tight and pulls on the kneecap causing knee pain. If the muscle has trigger points (which is almost always the case), one should, of course, release them, which is usually all that is required. One can then strengthen the muscle if desired, though this, in itself will not normally affect the pain.
- You don’t have tendonitis or bursitis. Most likely you don’t, that is. Pain in the joint is over diagnosed as bursitis or tendonitis. More often trigger points in the muscle and fascia send pain to the muscle attachment. If tendonitis or bursitis is actually present, the cause is the strain on the tendinous attachment due to the tension of the muscle, which may also fray the tendon. Eliminating this strain eliminates the source of the tendinitis or bursitis and allows the frayed tendon to heal.
- Rest and the problem won’t go away. Trigger points in the muscles and tendons cause most of these joint and muscle pains. Resting will allow the trigger points to become latent and might eliminate the pain, but does not eliminate the trigger points or the problems they cause. They also might reactivate at any time.
- Don’t work through your pain. Again, pain is a warning signal, so don’t ignore it or you will most likely cause further problems. The problem causing the pain is easily corrected in most cases, so tend to that first before going on with your activities.
- The therapist or doctor is not the healer, it is your own body that is the ultimate healer. A good therapist or doctor will invite the changes that create the environment for your body to activate its own healing process. Pharmaceuticals, steroids and surgery certainly don’t promote, and often impede self-healing, which, in the end, is the only true healing.
- Surgery is not the solution. Problems with the rotator cuff or carpal tunnel as well as hip, elbow, knee or neck pain, which have become chronic over time don’t need surgery. They are most often the result of tight muscles and fascia. Stretching and releasing them is much faster and more effective than cutting them. If they are a result of trauma there is still a good possibility that you can avoid surgery with DMR therapy®. Your problem is often much more easily corrected than what you are led to believe.
The great majority of these chronic problems come from the same source—tension. This tension is often not evident until it rises to the level of pain, and is generally caused by stress. This stress, combined with overuse, repetitive motions, strain or emotional issues can unleash a chain of dysfunction resulting in myriad diagnoses from carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves, tendinitis, headaches, reflux, rotator cuff problems or joint degeneration to fibromyalgia and numerous other syndromes. Pharmaceuticals and surgery focus on symptoms rather than the root cause, which is normally very simple. DMR therapy® (Deep Myofascial Release) is developed from a different perspective of what causes these problems. Because of this DMR therapy® is fast, effective and non-invasive with no side effects. One usually can feel an immense difference in the first therapy.
The term “trigger point” was coined by Dr. Janet Travell, President John F. Kennedy’s personal physician to describe a special type of hyperirritable knot in tense muscle fiber that causes intense pain often far from the trigger point itself (referred pain). President Kennedy appointed Dr. Travell as his personal physician thanks to her treatment of the debilitating myofascial pain that in 1955 had threatened to prematurely end his political career.