Susan’s Wisdom:
Pain from the past

(excerpt)

We are a total of all our life experiences, from the birth process, through all our joys, sorrows, loves and losses.

If your body hurts somewhere, it is trying to get your attention. 

Stop and listen.

Observe, rather than react. 

You might even put your hand there and ask your body what it needs.

That life changing decision to be accepting, instead of reacting, can make all the difference.  When we fight pain, we tend to tighten the muscles around the area even more, which exacerbates everything.

     Sitting at a computer:  When sitting at a computer, sit tall and let the computer come to you.  If you do have to lean forward, bend at the hips instead of rounding forward at the shoulder.  Your forearms should be supported in a way that your shoulders are not scrunched up toward your ears, but are relaxed.   Sitting in one position for a long time is always difficult for your body.  You should stand up every 15 minutes.  A swivel chair can be helpful for being able to move some.  However, you will need to be mindful of keeping your body most commonly centered in front of the computer, rather than off to one side, or swiveled away in one direction.  Both hands should be the same distance from the body, for the most part.  Standing desks are wonderful, especially if you have to spend more than a couple of hours a day at a computer.  However, you will have the ongoing challenge of remembering to keep your entire body aligned, including hips, legs, back, head, and neck, as always as well as shoulders arms and hands.  This can be especially challenging if you are working in these positions, because of course your attention is centered on what you’re doing, not on your body.  However, if you will just turn your attention briefly to your position from time to time, you can make adjustments through the day, and eventually a balanced posture will become automatic.
 

     Using a cell phone:  Cell phones are now an integral part of our posture, having become an extension of our hands, eyes and brain.  Most people slump over to use their phones, often to one side, and even while walking.  If you’re of the generation that actually uses a phone to talk, you may also bend your head, and raise your shoulder.  Again, the key is to pay attention.  Lift, lengthen and breathe!  Bring the phone up so it’s centered in front of your face instead of in front of your body, and look at it straight on.  Pay attention to shoulder alignment, so that you are not habitually using one hand with one shoulder forward.  It might be helpful to brace your elbows against your body and hold the phone evenly in both hands.

 

 

Fibromyalgia
 

     What is fibromyalgia?  The word literally means pain in the soft tissue.  (FMS, myofascial pain and fibrositis are used interchangeably)  Myofascial pain is one of several symptoms that characterize the condition collectively known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS).  Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscle, nerves, arteries and organs—a continuous sheath that is also the outer covering of the bone and extends from the feet to the top of the head.  The deepest layer surrounds the spinal cord and extends into the head as the neural extension—the tentorium and the falx cerebri.  Ordinarily the fascia is smooth.  With injuries, surgeries or even strain resulting from poor posture, the tissue tightens and thickens.  This imbalance of the soft tissue is painful  because it can pull on the bones.  The bones stay where the soft tissue keeps them.  For example, a twisted arm or finger is painful even though it is not torn or broken.  Often the muscles that move the body into a twisted pattern overpowers the muscles that stabilize. These biomechanical imbalances would account for pain which otherwise might not be explained.  

     Studies show possible neurotransmitter disturbances—too much Substance P, not enough magnesium, decreased levels of serotonin, increased levels of cortisol.  Sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep not enough delta, restorative stage adds to the total number of physical and emotional stressors.  Food sensitivities, allergies and gastrointestinal disorders often also really bother these patients.  Fibromyalgia is a common disorder characterized by tender trigger points, aching all over and feeling tired much of the day—what happens when the total number of musculoskeletal, nutritional and emotional stressors are beyond what a person can handle comfortably.  If you have FMS, you may have stiffness, numbness and tingling, headaches, dizziness, memory and concentration problems (fibrofog).  Depression, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel and bladder syndrome, TMJ dysfunction, even mitral valve prolapse can all be part of the same underlying disorder.  Diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, chondromalacia patella, costochondritis, cervical and lumbar radiculopathies all have myofascial components.
 

     Fibromyalgia is a fascial condition.  The American Academy of Rheumatology defines fibromyalgia as myofascial pain in more than one place, characterized by at least 22 tender trigger points.  This is one of the most frustrating conditions, for both patients, families and doctors.  Even after decades of study, there are no medical tests that can diagnose this illness, and no medical treatments that have been proven effective.
 

     A common response that fibromyalgia patients have to pain is to focus like a laser on the areas that hurt.  Unexpectedly, that can actually make the area get tighter, and the pain get worse.  When an area is tight and painful, it really means that those muscles need extra support from balancing muscles around them, so they can relax.  This is why exercise is prescribed to these patients.  The best thing to do is to check balance, and work the opposing muscles, wherever they are.  Lengthening tight muscles and strengthening core muscles helps keep the skeleton stable.  This might include identifying your own emotions, because traumatic emotions shorten and tighten fascia, as well as muscles that may entrap tendons, nerves or arteries.
 

     Susan had a patient diagnosed with fibromyalgia who acknowledged that fear was a major issue.  She was afraid of the pain any time or location that it showed up.  At one point she was incapacitated by the diagnosis of a bulging disc and was considering surgery.  Gradually she began to measure her progress in terms of balance:  “I feel balanced, my hips and shoulders are level, the weight is even on both feet, I’m breathing deeply.”  Then she started walking daily and began to feel her core muscles get stronger.  Now when I ask her what she thinks helped her get better, she said “I DECIDED to get better!”  THAT is sometimes the key!
 

     Another fibromyalgia patient improved when she became less anxious about her husband’s health.  But since then her father died, and her Mother fractured her hip.  She had several grandchildren and described herself as ”always worrying about someone”.  She recognizes that increased anxiety increases the pain. and she feels the need for stronger abdominal muscles.  She has had abdominal surgeries to remove ovaries, had 3 C Sections with the births of her children.  In the past she felt overwhelmed by weight machines or even by her husband’s suggestion that she walk more.  She now understands that because of the pattern of the way her body had compensated for her weak abdominals by overusing the tight psoas muscle, she has less pain with her new balanced way of moving.

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