- A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TREATMENT APPROACH
- On Back Pain
- On Multiple Sclerosis
- Brainstem Cancer - A brief sample case history
- Traditional Chinese Medicine and its health philosophy – A brief summary
- Stress, Nutrition, Lifestyle, Exercise and its significance in chronic musculoskeletal pain
A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TREATMENT APPROACH
Over the past 19 years as a complementary medical health care practitioner I have refined my diverse skills to treat acute pain, chronic pain and neuropathic symptoms via my unique and multi-disciplinary holistic treatments.
SPORTS MASSAGE, MASSAGE, SHIATSU ACUPRESSURE
NEUROMUSCLUAR RELEASE, LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE
EASY TO IMPLEMENT GUIDANCE ON NUTRITION
LIFESTYLE AND GENTLE YOGA - BASED EXERCISES, BREATHING TECHNIQUES
I frequently cross refer to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its invaluable philosophy on persistent pain. Essentially TCM is about how to achieve optimum health by living our lives in balance rather than extremes. ‘Homeostasis’ is the scientific definition of balance and its definition is: ‘the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes’. Modern life makes many demands on us; physically, mentally and emotionally. At its core TCM emphasises how nature’s way can redress the balance. Its wisdom often provides new impetus and better coping strategies for chronic pain sufferers. Your general health is likely to improve via bespoke practical and straightforward lifestyle advice, specific gentle yoga-based exercises including breathing techniqeus and easy to implement nutritional guidance. My ‘go-to’ treatment method for musculoskeletal pain relief with movement restrictions is Neuromuscular Release. Lymphatic Drainage may be of benefit to you as it helps your body to detox. It is the perfect antidote to the effects of long-term medication. It can boost your immune system and revitalise your body.
Back pain may occur anywhere along the spine although it frequently affects the lower back. A healthy spine has a gentle ‘S’ curve which stacks all vertebra effortlessly and optimizes the functioning of all joints. A slumped sitting posture can transform our spine into an unnatural ‘C’ shape which compresses the lumbar discs in the lower back. Chronic poor postural alignment is often the precussor for fluke incidents which can seem to happen out of nowhere. Furthermore chronic back pain can be caused by prolonged standing, sustained forward bending e.g. when weeding the garden, lifting heavy items then twisting to put them down, a faulty exercise regime or freak accidents. By far the most common cause of back pain seems to be simply due to a chronic poor sitting posture. Most of us tend to sit a lot.
The primary purpose of the spinal disc is to act as a shock absorber between adjacent vertebrae. If disc height is reduced due to poor posture, the spine becomes stiff and painful which apart from in the lower back can also affect your spine higher up as well as your neck and shoulder area. Stiffness and pain anywhere along your spine can frequently be early symptoms of back complaints. Those with deskbound jobs are hunched over computers for most of the day. Sitting occurs all day: in meetings, on travel overseas, when commited to study, when reading, watching television, at meal times, at social occasions etc. It is easy to see how sitting badly is a common cause for spinal dysfunciton.
MULIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS)
My combination treatments have shown to be of benefit for MS sufferers. Treatments have to be bespoke and symptom-led as MS can vary from person to person. Any of my recommendations with regards to specific exercises, lifestyle evaluations and nutritional suggestions have been helpful. I identifiy poor muscular range of motion and commonly use light touch via Neuromuscular Release. Muscles can be reset to their normal function often instantly and result in greater range of movement.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system which causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues. In the case of MS, this immune system malfunction destroys myelin (the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord). The nerve may also become damaged itself. This disturbs the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. The interruption of signals causes variable and unpredictable symptoms, most commonly:
- Balance and walking difficulties
- Drop foot
- Muscle imbalances
- Bowel problems
- Bladder dysfunction
- Hearing- and eyesight issues
- Emotional changes
- Cognitive changes
- Tingling or numbness
BRAINSTEM CANCER – SAMPLE CASE HISTORY
One of my clients was diagnosed with Brainstem carcinoma. She suffered a post-op brain haemorrhage which left her with facial palsy, speech difficulties, poor hearing and impaired vision. Her balance let alone her walking was poor as was her posture and her core strength. She suffered from chronic neck pain and headaches, diffused back pain and fatigue. She had not much confidence or conviction in her rehabilitation. I have treated her regularly for about six months and treatments are ongoing.
Her speech is clearer, there has been a positive change in her hearing and eyesight, her balance, posture and core strengths is much improved. She exercises independently and with confidence and she is more self-assured and hopeful of further progress. This article was authorised by my client (see endorsement below).
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM) AND CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN RELIEF
During treatments I may refer to TCM and its philosophy of health. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine optimal health is achieved via a relative balance in the whole human body which conventional medicine refers to as homeostasis. Dis-ease can manifest when this balance is disturbed. Some of the most common afflictions in today’s world are stress-and anxiety related and commonly chronic pain can contribute to increased levels of stress. It can be extremely beneficial for individuals with relentless pain to recognize the strong correlation between TCM and presenting client health history. The principles of TCM can frequently reveal valuable insights into pain patterns and chronic recurring symptoms. Clients commonly gain new insights and impetus to re-engage with their rehabilitation.
STRESS AND CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN
Stress is common in people with chronic pain. The body's stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels and our body resumes its regular activities. In the case of chronic stress the stressors remain constantly present. Our body feels under permanent attack with fight-or-flight responses permanently switched on. The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the subsequent over-exposure to cortisol and other stress hormones disrupt our body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Breathing problems
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
It is very beneficial to adopt healthy ways to cope with stressors in your life. Generally we can cope better with stress if we come from a relaxation response instead of a stress response. I work with the Central Nervous System to re-establish stillness in your body and a sense of calm. I have heard clients say “I have never had a treatment like yours. It allowed me to explore my inner landscape”. Stillness reduces activity in the sympathetic nervous system, calms our 'fight or flight' response to stress and increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (our 'rest and digest' response). Periods of stillness can give the body a chance to recuperate and to cope better with the demands of daily life.
NUTRITIONAL GUIDANCE AND CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN RELIEF
My nutritional guidance can provide you with simple insights and stress-free choices. I remain empathetic, practical and realistic about any suggestions I make because these need to be easy to implement into your lifestyle. Past research has shown that chronic pain affects nutrition and nutrition affects chronic pain. It is said that people who suffer chronic pain have a poorer overall diet including reduced variety of healthy foods and lower consumption of fruits and vegetables. Importantly is it your nutrition and lifestyle that has the biggest influence on your health. Pain reduces the capacity to shop for and prepare fresh food. Many eat what is readily available and what requires the least amount of effort to obtain and prepare. Subsequently the nutritional value of food is diminished.
SIMPLE LIFESTYLE GUIDANCE AND CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN RELIEF
Chronic pain messages stimulate parts of the brain involved in emotion, fear and feelings which is why chronic pain is often linked to depression, sleep disorders and anxiety. If chronic pain has become part of your life, you may have lost hope unable to 'see the wood for trees'. A sense of hope can be paramount in any rehabiliation. It raises the spirit. My bespoke combination treatments and simple, practical lifestyle suggestions may be all you need to progress to a happier place.
EXERCISE AND CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN RELIEF
It is said that ‘Motion is Lotion’ yet one size doesn’t fit all. I encourage pro-activity including gentle yoga-based exercises. Exercise releases endorphins which are brain chemicals that help improve your mood whilst also naturally reducing pain signals. Studies have found that people who exercise and stay flexible manage their pain better.
LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE AND CHRONIC MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN RELIEF
The lymphatic system removes toxins from every cell in your body whilst regulating the immune system. Chronic pain and raised stress levels contributes to poor drainage of the lymphatic system. When under stress the body is forced to manufacture and secrete excess stress-fighting hormones to boost energy. The waste products of these hormones are called free radicals which are a cause and a result of inflammation. Chronic inflammation goes on to produce more free radicals which in turn create more inflammation. This is a vicious cycle which can damage many systems in the body. Lymphatic drainage promotes detoxification and relaxation and is excellent if you suffer from minor or major illness, chronic pain, stress, fatigue, fluid retention, lack of energy, high blood pressure (hypertension), post viral - or bacterial infection, chest - and sinus congestion.
MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN RELIEF (ACUTE PAIN, CHRONIC PAIN AND NEUROLOGICAL SYMPTOM)
I am an advanced Practitioner of Neuromuscular Release, an Australian soft tissue technique which targets specific points on the body, muscles and ligaments and this is registered by your nervous system. The brain responds by sending new commands back to your muscles. The result is often prompt pain relief. Most clients notice remarkable differences in flexibility, balance, pain levels, and ranges of movement, breathing and other functions during their first treatment.
The medical interpretation of ‘Neuromuscular’ is ‘relating to nerves and muscles or the relationship between them’. This specific type of Neuromuscular Release is said to interact with the body as described in the science of Critical Point Analysis which identifies that “In any highly complex system there is a specific, critical point at which the smallest input will result in the greatest change”. For example a light touch on a small cog can halt the largest engine. Another example of how light touch can affect a prompt response is commonly seen by the irritations little flies evoke on cattle and the tiny muscle release twitches which follow as a result.
"I contacted Andrea following what she subsequently suspected was an acute locked back incidence while on vacation in Cornwall. After taking some pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication, Andrea agreed to see me at short notice outside of her working hours which was extremely kind of her. Within 90mins I felt hugely better! Andrea was able to return me from a lopsided, forward twisted posture to standing upright with full movement.
Andrea gave me several specific and extremely effective spinal exercises. This enabled me to return to London the following day by car although I am pretty sore around my lower back as Andrea predicted. She recommended I see my conventional health care practitioner for further investigation and rehabilitation. I would strongly recommend Andrea to anyone seeking professional help in her field of expertise."
Markus Zavos, Richmond, Surrey – ACUTE LOCKED BACK
(On vacation in Cornwall) August 2018
“Andrea's treatments have made a positive difference in my life. I was diagnosed with Brainstem carcinoma in 2012 and initially came to see Andrea because of chronic neck pain. Andrea’s article above reflects truthfully the person I was when we first met and my symptoms at the time. I am more optimistic now and the rehabilitation and healing I have received is a testament to her capabilities. Andrea’s approach is the holistic one and this is the way I like it. She has researched many things for me to go forward. I appreciate this and it gives me hope to go forward. I highly recommend her.”
Monica Bowman, Cobham, Surrey – BRAINSTEM CARCINOMA
“I came to Andrea for relief from chronic back pain and chronic stress-induced musculoskeletal tension. Even after just the first appointment, I felt as if she had given me a new body! Her methods brought instant relief, and by following the exercises she has given me, I have been able to prolong the benefit of her treatments. I am now moving better, standing taller and feeling much more positive about life.
It is empowering to know that you have the tools to rescue yourself when you are in acute pain or, as I was several weeks ago, unable to move my neck at all. Following Andrea's detailed instructions, I was able to get the movement back and relieve the pain through her brilliant exercises.
Equally helpful is the support she has given me to understand what is happening in my body to cause such discomfort, and her practical nutrition and lifestyle advice. Andrea is a deeply empathetic person with a wide ranging toolkit of therapeutic methods, and highly professional in her approach and her practice facilities.
I have already recommended Andrea to many friends with aches and pains!”
Kay Turk, Godalming, Surrey – CHRONIC BACK PAIN, ACUTE NECK PAIN