Old paradigms held that pain was generated at the periphery, at the site of an injury. We know that not to be true now.
The high cost of war resulting in so many lost limbs has necessitated substantial research on phantom pain, and that has changed our understanding of where and how pain is felt.
As an example, according to the new model of pain initiation, if you drop a heavy object on your foot, receptors will transmit that sensory input to the brain. Pain is not actually felt until that information reaches the brain and is interpreted there.
We also now know that interpretation takes into account, not just the sensations from the object landing on the foot, but memories of similar past experiences, psychological concerns (such as fear) and other stressors.
In other words, the brain is more involved in the experience of pain than we once believed. It is, in fact, more involved than the actual site of injury, and as I stated at the outset, pain is multi-factorial – a very complex issue.
Bodywork and Pain
Because of the unprecedented and tragic results of opioid addiction in the United States, the medical field is scurrying to find other routes of pain mitigation. This puts bodyworkers in a strategic position to be of service, since loving therapeutic touch does reduce pain.
Reasons that bodywork is so powerful in addressing pain:
* People coming for bodywork bring much more than their physical selves into the room – their entire history arrives with them. Research shows that hands-on approaches impact people on far more than just the physical level – therapeutic bodywork touches every layer of a human being, not just the physical. A pill cannot claim that!
* We are just now learning that it is less about what you are doing and more about how you are doing what you are doing. The latest research shows that it is the deeply relaxing and positive aspect of hands-on interventions that actually works with the brain and nervous system to help reduce pain. This is why I love reflexology so much. The modality is masterful at relaxing, and speaks directly to the brain through the neural circuits. No ‘middleman muscle’ even needs to be touched.
* Bodyworkers create longer-lasting relationships with their clients – one hour (sometimes more) versus the 15 minutes doctors budget. Giving clients the time to talk about their pain allows them to better understand all that contributes to the situation, and perhaps discover healthy ways in which they might shift the quality of their lives. Empowerment and hope do much to smooth the edges of chronic pain.
* Reflexologists and other bodyworkers take great pride in designing environments that are soothing and calm, not sterile and hectic as is the case in a medical office. Soft lighting and quiet music sets the stage for deep relaxation. And, remember ….
RELAXATION IS THE BASIS OF HEALTH!