Marin Movement Center Physical Therapy Blog

Marion Kregeloh, PT, CFP provides health information for physical therapy, osteoporosis, chronic pain, physical therapy, orthopedic therapy, Feldenkrais, in the Marin Movement Center blog.

How to Retrain an Orchestra

Posted by Marion Kregeloh
Marion Kregeloh
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on Tuesday, 30 August 2011 in Chronic Pain

 

Chronic Back and Neck Pain---------or How to Retrain an Orchestra


Chronic pain is about making changes: the way we think, feel, move and breathe. Healing from chronic pain is about transferring control back to the individual who is in pain as opposed to pain being in control of the patient. 

Pain occurs when the body’s alarm system signals to the brain that there is tissue damage. In chronic pain, we can use the metaphor of an orchestra:  it is as if the orchestra in the brain plays the same pain tune over and over again. It lost the ability to find its entire repertoire of tunes. And this is the source for more dysfunction and more pain and so on.

Movement is essential for the health of all body systems and processes. When dealing with pain, movement is the key function that is affected. While movement is always therapeutic for the tissues and aids healing, many people with chronic pain feel “trapped” by pain. Movement can even make their pain worse.

The approach to getting out of the “pain trap” includes following key steps:
1.    Understanding pain and its physiology and source: Once pain is understood, it is given less power and the individual can engage more efficiently in her/his recovery.
2.    Understanding the fact that hurt does not always equal harm. This is a very important piece of information for anyone who is recovering from pain and/or enrolled in physical therapy as part of a chronic pain management program.
3.    Understand the principles of pacing and gradual exposure: a) choose one activity that you want to do more. b) determine your baseline of that activity, such as how long you can walk without flaring the pain. c)  plan how to progress: if your baseline walking is 10 minutes, plan to add ½ minute each day, to 10.5, 11, 11.5 etc d) stick to your plan. Know that flare-ups are part of the natural response of the nervous system. e) include pleasurable activities into your daily life since they have positive effects on the brain-pain cycle.
4.    Here are some of the fundamental criteria that are needed for restoring healthy and pain-free movement:
•    Imagine movements.
•    Introduce different orientations for the same movements.
•    Include balance tools such as gym ball or roller for the same movements.
•    Include exercise in the water.
•    Play with different speeds, qualities, or break the movement into different components.
•    Include distraction such as music, art or visualization; let your mind create new ways.
•    Allow movements in different emotional states. Just because you feel down one day, does not mean you need to put your movement routine on hold.

This list for movement restoration retrains the orchestra so it can play its full range of tunes, harmonious notes, revive old tunes and prepare new masterpieces, eventually.

After all, who wants to hear the same tunes over and over again....and remember: “You own your body, medicine doesn’t”.

To find out more about chronic pain, please contact Marion Kregeloh, Physical Therapist and Feldenkrais Practitioner, at 479.1765 or at 924.6226, Ext. 36.

Marion is part of a renowned chronic pain management program in Marin County, California.

 

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