Working with pain management on an individual basis

When you have aches and pains there is the idea that movement will help bring blood to the area and relieve the pain. It's true, it does, but it may be not be the course of treatment that will relieve pain on a long term basis.

PHOTO CREDIT:MAICO AMARIM

PHOTO CREDIT:MAICO AMARIM

I suffered sciatic nerve pain for a few years in a row. A hot yoga class I was attending brought out an intensity that I needed to deal with but instead of letting it out and moving through, it caused even more intensity in my system. I couldn't sit in a chair for more and a minute without feeling the twitch in my lower back travelling down the sides of my thighs. It ruled my life as I was in constant search to relieve the pain.

I attended weekly massage sessions that would knead at the nerves, was told doing Vipassana (10 day 11 hr/day meditation course) would help me rise above (yes, day 4 I almost saw my maker from the pain), tried acupuncture and anything else I heard about. The problem, I realised later, wasn't the pain it was that I couldn't see where the pain originated from. I think I was more frustrated at feeling helpless than the actual pain.

When I learnt that in order to reduce pain you needed to calm the Vata dosha down by slowing right down, moving as little as possible, it seemed like a backwards way of thinking. I did feel a relief when I walked and brought blood to the area - that's what the massage and acupuncture were about I thought. But I couldn't understand how long I needed to clear it, it felt like it would be a lifelong journey.

What I understood was that there were 3 ways of blocked channels, dry (Vata) inflammed (Pitta), and excess substance (Kapha) In my case I needed to reduce the excess movement, which in turn would soften the channels, which in turn would allow blood flow. Pitta unblocks channels by reducing the intensity in its workday, the excess thinking and striving is what blocks the flow to actually cause too much blood to the area. Kapha is the one that does need a lot of movement to reduce their form of pain which is more dull and dense feeling.

The way I healed and the pain never came back was I was learning yoga therapy at the time and my teacher gave me the excruciating forward bend as my daily practise. To bend even an inch forward caused sharp pin feelings to explode in my lower back. But I did it. I breathed as far as I could go and stop. I did it every day. Until a year later I had my hands on the ground. The point of the practise was to teach me to slow down, to find my breath at the pain junctures and to learn to be simple. I only practise this one asana for one year.

And I stopped my excess walking and movement, reduced my workload, took naps when I wanted and basically learnt how to be lazy in a good way.

I have been pain free for 8 yrs now. Every now and then I feel a twinge which is my body telling me I've gone too far. I know to stop what I'm doing and rest and it eases up.  And on a smaller note, when I feel dry or my extremities feels cold, I do the same thing. I rest and slow activity down and I feel the blood rush back in. I want to say that I'm certain massage and acupuncture are excellent measure of their own accord, however without the added lifestyle change I was just chasing my tail.

Pain management needs to be on an individual basis. I met someone recently that told me that they have had back pain for 20 years. The doctor told them they always would have the pain. I think if you only focus on the pain it could be right, but if you focus on the realignment of your life, you might be surprised that pain is just a fall out of a bigger misalignment.

 

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Sandra Radja

Established in 2012 The She Oak aims to provide healing through diet and lifestyle counselling as well as educational programs. I believe in teaching others to not only know their inherent constitutions that will best serve them but also how to help themselves should they mis-align with their true nature. Ayurveda treats the individual not the disease.