Tag Archives: Chronic Pain

Gua Sha, An Invaluable Tool In The Treatment Of Chronic Pain

Gua sha therapy also known as Meridian Scraping therapy is an ancient East Asian healing technique understood by only a few Western practitioners.  Scraping is commonly used in Vietnam and China, to treat fevers and aches affiliated with the common cold.  A similar technique is used by the Greeks in their every day massage regimens to alleviate pain and revitalize the blood.

Gua Sha therapy may be utilized to resolve various forms of ailments and illnesses.  Its main uses are to relieve symptoms of the common cold, strengthen the immune system and treat bodily pain. Its other uses are to help balance the flow of vital energy or chi through the energy channels or meridians, to address certain psycho-spiritual conditions and to stimulate regions of weak blood flow such as adipose tissue that can both have a contouring and detoxifying effect.

For chronic pain, Gua sha can definitely provide long term relief.  It has a wide range of both Eastern and Western mechanisms that bring about positive results.

The spasm-pain-spasm cycle that keeps muscles tight in a protective reaction is halted as the practitioner rubs over muscle spasms that have become rooted “knots”, enabling the muscle to relax.

Stroking over an area brings nutrients and oxygen to tissues that have been deprived.  The blood then washes out toxins such as lactic acid that have built up in the body.

Rubbing the tissue heats the fascia, the underlying support structure of the bones and muscles.  Individual strands of fascia start to crystallize and “adhere” together as a result of deposits of toxins, overuse, repetitive trauma, and misuse.  Heating this tissue brings the tissue back to its natural gelatinous state and ‘melts’ any adhesions that may have arisen.

The body can then be capable of realizing its original structure once muscular adhesions and tension are released.

According to Eastern philosophies, exogenous factors such as damp, cold, heat, and wind can be become trapped in the body’s outer layer resulting in pain due to blockage of the flow of blood and chi within the meridians.  Gua sha therapeutic techniques are the best way to free up these pathogens from the exterior promoting the smooth circulation of blood and chi in the body.

Gua sha has several other benefits aside from pain relief.

By clearing energy channel blockages, gua sha boosts the smooth flow of blood and chi, addressing almost any presenting illness and balancing the body.

Blood stasis hinders the creation of new blood.  New blood can be produced again once the stagnation is eliminated.  Blood is the material foundation of our minds.  When a person suffers from blood deficiency, he may have a difficult time creating emotional flexibility and boundaries and dealing with self esteem problems.  Blood deficiency can manifest in a multitude of problems including dizziness, lack of energy, lack of flexibility, muscular pain, etc. By stimulating the manufacture of new blood, gua sha treats both the physical and psycho-spiritual conditions related to blood deficiency.

Just like deep bodywork therapies such as rolfing, gua sha can provoke emotional release.  If the muscles are “retaining” emotions, they will be accepted, felt, and freed, as they relax.  Old problems that have been trapped in the body muscles get resolve naturally as this happens.

Gua sha therapy works well on fascia. Every muscle, artery, vein, nerve, and organ is sheathed in layers of fascia.  When the superficial fascia is stroked, deeper structures will be influenced and their function will be increased.

Lymph vessels and glands are situated in the fascia.  The function of the lymphatic system is to protect the body against pathogenic invasion (through immune response), distribute dietary lipids from the gastrointestinal tract to the blood, and drain excess interstitial fluid from tissue.  Scraping therapy can help free any blockages within the lymphatic system and strengthen the circulation of lymph.

Gua sha, in general, boosts circulation providing poorly nourished areas with blood to both feed tissue and eliminate waste materials.  By stimulating an area of the body, the therapy’s deep massaging action can help detoxify and tonify the area.

Depending on how many body parts are to be addressed, a typical therapy session can last from 15 to 45 minutes.  Like most types of bodywork, the treated areas will include both the areas that contribute to the condition. They mainly include the site of pain as well as the chest, arms, legs, back, and neck.

First, the practitioner applies lotion or oil on the areas to be treated.  The practitioner will then use a smooth edged tool to stroke the treatment areas.  Stroking will be repeated until the sha is released.

As the tissue releases sha, a red rash called petechiae will arise.  The rash’s discoloration provides the practitioner clues to the severity and nature of the condition being treated.  It may take four to seven days for the rash to disappear.  Light aerobic exercise like walking as well as stretching can quicken the healing of the rash.

Gua sha therapy can be compared to an extremely profound massage.  You might feel excruciatingly intense pain one moment only to be replaced with an overwhelmingly relaxing feeling the next.  The practitioner should take into account your level of sensitivity; however, as with the rest of our existence, in order to bring about healing and growth, there are often periods of discomfort that cannot be avoided.

The practitioner may give the patient a cup of warm water after a session and advise him or her to relax and rest.  Drinking adequate amounts of water will help wash all the toxins released by the procedure. Drinking lots of water after treatment is very important since by not doing so, it can cause the toxins to settle back into the tissue causing lightheadedness and nausea or soreness and stiffness.

After treatment, the patient needs to rest for a day or two. He also needs to protect any treated area from direct exposure to cold, wind, or sun; avoid any strenuous exercises; and refrain from drinking caffeine and alcohol.

In the treatment of chronic pain, Gua sha can be a truly extremely invaluable tool.  It actually is a vital modality in the treatment of almost any disorder given its ability to stimulate and detoxify tissue, release the exterior, boost the production of blood, and eliminate stagnation in the body.

Acupuncture is The Right Way To Go For Controlling or Managing Chronic Pain

No one really knows how acupuncture works but it works, nonetheless. Actually, a lot of the so-called natural alternative treatments, Western medical science has a hard time explaining how and why they work in treating a wide range of health problems

In the United States, there are more than 12,000 acupuncturists certified and licensed by the NCCAOM (National Commission for Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), with around 34% of them medical doctors.

The NCCAOM reports that more people availed themselves of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine)than Western conventional treatments.Their statistics show that 388 million visited family doctors while around 430 million opted for 425 million visits to CAM treatments.

The Ruhr University Bochum conducted a study led by Dr. Heinz Endres that compared the effects of acupuncture, Western medicine and placebo on more than a thousand participants who were all suffering from low back pain. The patients were divided into three groups. One group was given placebo comprised of injection of a saline solution of water or oral intake of sugar pills). The second group was treated with Western modes of treatment including injections, drugs, etc. The last group was administered with acupuncture treatment.

The researchers were attempting to manage extreme lower back pain. The outcomes were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on its September 24 2007 issue.

At the end of the study,Dr. Endresstated that the magnitude of the pain of the patients was not only alleviated, they also experienced improvements in disability that usually accompanies backpain. This means there was an improvement in the quality of life of the patients.

In the group treated with acupuncture, 47% of the patients showed qualitative betterment in pain symptoms six months after the end of the study, compared to just 27% of the patients treated with conventional Western medicine including massage or heat therapy, injections, and painkillers. This is almost twice rate of success of doctors, right?

There are researchers who believe that acupuncture’s secret les in its ability to disrupt pain messages processed by the brain, by providing competing stimuli. An insertion of a needle may seem to be the competing stimuli that affect the back pain signals from creating a feedback loop.

Some researchers believe that the painless twisting of the needles releases in the body, its own feel-good chemicals like endomorphins,enkephalins, and endorphins that remove pain both in the mind and body.

Placebo is a fake treatment or sham procedure and may be in the form of an inactive injection or pill in order to test the effects of another treatment or substance. Placebo can also include the interaction betweenthe doctor and patient and how the beliefs and expectations of the patient can result in positive mental and bodily effects.

In the above mentioned study, the needles were not stuck at the depth(under the skin) needed for effective treatment, or inserted into certain meridian pointsin order to balance the body’s energy flow.

One common mistake that occurs during an acupuncture procedure is when the needles are not manipulated which should be the appropriate protocol for a truly effective acupuncture treatment. And long before the benefits of Western medical treatment has dissipated, the effects of acupuncture can linger on for a very long time

These Complaints Are Treated with Acupuncture

Acupuncturists often hear and treat patients suffering from various types of conditions including sinus discomfort, arthritis, bursitis, sciatica, and migraine headaches. Some patients even report of prostate symptoms improving with acupuncture. Acupuncture may be considered placebo by a lot of skeptics, the pain, however, is usually completely eliminated
The sister treatment of acupuncture is acupressure,which involves the application of manual pressure, instead of needles into the acupoints in order to heal a condition. Ancient Chinese healers began practicing acupressure more than 2,000 years ago. They were able to create charts showing the location of the 2,000 acupointson the body. They also showed that the body has 12 main energy channels (meridians) and eight secondary meridians.

The meridians are vessels where the bioelectrical energy in the body known as Qi flows. This flow needs to be in balance for the body to enjoy mental and physical health. It gets better – the unbalanced (impaired) or tired Qi are moved by the needles to help rectify the compatible ratio of Yin and Yang.

While Yin balances the negative energy forces, Yang claims to manage the positive energy of the body and mind. The proper balance of yin and yang is allegedly based on the continuous flow of oxygen and blood and immune systems such as B cells (Bone Marrow), T cells (Thymus) ,and the Natural Killer cells (leukocytes).

Scientists still do not know or understand how the painless pricking of tiny needles leads to the healing of a condition. But then again,these people who can send astronauts into space are still unaware of the site or basis of human consciousness even in 2015.

Doctors in America first got to know about acupuncture when James Reston, a New York Times reporterin 1971 reported his experience with the procedure in China. He witnessed the use of acupuncture needles to quell postsurgical stomach pain in China.

After the publishing of that article a later Gallup poll in 1971 showed 97% of US doctors were highly skeptical of acupuncture and deemed it to be a form of witchcraft. A question in the poll asked whether the physician ever experienced or heard of acupuncture. The poll results show that an astonishing 98.8% never even heard the name of acupuncture in 1971.

These days, the National Institute of Health (NIH) endorses acupuncture as a valid medical technique. Now, for practicing US doctors, it is a highly recommendedform of complementary treatment.

The fact is, the NIH states that acupuncture lessens the side effects of highly toxic medications and helps relieve lower back pain. But does the medical community, in general,recommend it or use it/ NO.

Mu Opioid Receptors

During pain, the brain manufactures and releases an internal opium known as opioid. An opiate is a synthetic narcotic that occurs naturally and it resembles morphine or opium. It attaches itself to the opiate receptor on a neuron surface in order to relieve pain.

There are three forms of opioid receptors: Delta, Kappa, and Mu and they all help relieve pain. They are found in your brain, specifically, in the hypothalamus, thalamus, and cerebral cortex. They generate a painkilling effect when activated, to help manage mental and physical pain.

And Get This

The activity of your Mu Opioid Receptor results in a connection between Nocebos, Placebos, and hypnosis. Herbert Benson, M.D., a researcher from Harvard suggests that the benefits produced by meditation (enhancing your immune systems) may be due to the release of the opioids of the brain.

Also, you can activate your opioids with your own free will through various strategies. If you can meditate and relax each day for a few minutes, you can easily manage chronic pain.

More than 84% of Americans will experience lower back pain, and later in life, may experience other permanent or temporary degenerative pain including arthritis and bursitis. If you want a drug-free way to manage pain, acupuncture is the right way to go.

Studies have indicated that hypnosis can be used to activate the Mu Opioid Receptors. According to the AMA (American Medical Association), hypnosis is a recognized medical therapy that can accelerate the healing of the body and the relief of pain.

Hypnosis is still being ridiculed by some physicians, who also happen to distrust acupuncture. When it comes to treatment of your body and mind, one must do research and exercise discretion about who to believe.