by Helen Mawson
In this article, I would like to share with you some information concerning chronic pain, what it is, how it can affect the individual and how I work in practice to help clients suffering from this condition.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is a type of pain that has been present over a longer period of time, generally, if pain has persisted or reoccurs over a period of 3 months it is referred to as chronic. Chronic pain may be related to a condition such as arthritis or diabetes or it may be the pain that results from an injury such as whiplash or pain that results from an operation after normal other healing has taken place. It may, however, have no detectable cause from an injury, operation or illness.
In a National pain audit conducted in 2009, it was reported that each year in the UK over 5 million people develop chronic pain and only two-thirds of these will recover. It is clear that much more needs to be done to improve outcomes for patients with this condition.
Services across the UK differ greatly from one NHS trust to another but treatment comprising of some of the following tends to be common; physiotherapy, talking therapies such as counselling or CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy), drug therapy and occasionally other holistic therapies such as Acupuncture are also made available.
The effects of chronic pain
The effects of chronic pain can vary significantly from individual to individual, depending on the illness the individual is dealing with. The psychological effects of chronic pain are a major consideration in any treatment regime.
Self-help tips to manage chronic pain
Some self-help tips that may help with chronic pain include;
- Meditation / Mindfulness
- Gentle Stretching
- Gentle Tai Chi
- Gentle Yoga
- Supplementation of specific minerals i.e. Magnesium
N.B The efficacy of the above will really vary from person to person and the type of pain they are dealing with. It is a good idea to seek advice before commencing with any of these.
How The Bowen Technique can help with chronic pain
I have worked with many people experiencing chronic pain of varying degrees over the years and Bowen really seems to help them. The points highlighted below I believe are reasons why this technique is so effective.
Bowen is gentle
Light touch often elicits significant benefit in the body and many studies have confirmed that the lighter the touch, the more effective and profound the effect of treatment can be.
The Bowen Technique is incredibly gentle and involves light moves being applied to different parts of the body. The moves are often made over muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, joints and occasionally nerves. Treatment aims to stimulate the nervous system and body to begin a process of healing, repair and rejuvenation.
Bowen works on many levels
The Bowen moves are made at key structural points on the body which the brain uses as natural reference points to determine the bodys posture. As a result, the moves can have a huge effect on the way the body holds itself.
The nervous system sensory information is induced by the Bowen move which reaches the spinal cord passing through the nerve pathways to the different centres of the brain. At this point the information is shunted back and forth via a complex self-corrective feedback mechanism, this info is then sent back down the spinal cord to the individual muscles for correction to take place.
Bowen work will also often have a positive impact an individuals emotional state and there are specific procedures that can be used to address anxiety and emotional issues.
The importance of Fascia
Fascia is connective tissue that covers all of the structures of the body and allows flexibility and free flowing movement throughout the whole body. The body maintains structure through its relationship with key structural bands of muscle via fascia. One key function of fascia bands is to maintain upright structure. If there is tension or weakness in the fascia a range of reactions can result such as pressure on nerves, tension in the musculature on one side and compensation patterns being set up in the rest of the body. In Bowen, we directly affect fascia by changing the way in which the muscles and fascia relate to each other and a change in structure becomes inevitable whereby the structure of the body will adopt a better position and the body will be better able to function. To highlight how important and how effective treating fascia is I give an example that the fascial system contains 10x more receptors than muscles, these receptors send messages directly to the brain.
Bowen is holistic and dynamic
Our bodies are complex systems that work as a whole and generally, when one system is out of balance a knock on effect will be experienced elsewhere. Bowen work will often have an impact on a multitude of symptoms that an individual may be experiencing.