Pills? Shots? How 'Bout a Little SMR?

Happy New Year everyone! Ready for 2013? I am! (I've also had a lot of coffee this morning.)

Yes please!

I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day and she recounted a saga of back pain to me. She had some back pain that just wouldn't go away so she went to the doctor to get the appropriate MRI and x-rays (nothing was found to be structurally wrong). Then, he writes her several prescriptions for muscle relaxers and pain killers, none of which helped. He also told her to get an epideral.. which also did nothing. She then went to another doctor who sent her to physical therapy... which proved, once again, to be a somewhat unhelpful (she said that the PT was great, but by the time she had started making progress with my friend, the prescribed number of sessions were over.). Then, as a last resort, she asked a trainer at the gym she attends who has training in a method called Egosque (a school of thought focused on postural realignment), and within a session or two, bam. No more back pain. For her, she was merely a little out of alignment.

It's an obvious answer in retrospect; kinda like disarming Voldemort with a simple Expelliarmus charm.

My sister-in-law was in a similar situation. She was experiencing near-debilitating back pain for months. She saw a chiropractor, had MRIs and was prescribed various pain-killers and muscle relaxers, to no avail. Then, one day, Steve was rolling his glutes on a lacrosse ball and Jenn, being curious as to why her brother was lolling around on the floor while making pain-faces, asked what he was doing. "Just rollin' my glutes," was the reply. "Can I try?" she asked. Being the awesome brother Steve is, he passed the lacrosse ball to her and taught her how to roll on it.

Within 5 minutes (this is no exaggeration), Jenn's back pain was gone. In her case, it was just tight butt muscles that needed some lovin'. Go figure!

Last story, I was having almost daily headaches, borderline migraine levels sometimes, for a couple of months this past year. I too trucked off to the doctor and had muscle relaxers prescribed to me (I was also taking a fair amount of Motrin to ease the searing pain in my head). Nothing. The muscle relaxers made me feel sick to my stomach, dizzy and my head still hurt. Motrin, as effective as it can be, is not something I wanted to be taking long term. After several futile weeks, I went to see and ART specialist (Dr. Grove in Vienna if anyone is interested. No, I don't get any special treatment, but she's so great and has helped me so much that I'm more than happy to send folks her way!) and she immediately pinpointed my tight neck muscles and within 20 minutes, my headache disappeared. I've been seeing her once a month (to continue working on my neck) and I have had only a handful of headaches (usually when it's been 3-4 weeks since I've seen her) since August. Again, just a little soft tissue work and boom, pain was gone as fast as an apparating wizard.

Not to discount any PTs or chiropractors out there (as it may seem in the two previous stories) but sometimes the problem isn't where the pain is. (and I think that's what happend with my friend and sister-in-law, their respective therapists were perhaps treating the symptoms instead of the cause.) This is also not meant to be a post about diagnosing pain nor do I claim that I can. If you're having pain you should go see a professional, get the MRI or x-ray to rule out any structural damage and then proceed to seek out professionals that know how to administer soft-tissue work (beyond what you can do yourself with a lax ball and foam roller).

I'm relating these stories because from what I see at work and at my previous jobs (and what people tell me when they find out what I do for a living) people have a lot of nagging pains that don't go away with medication or shots. I'm not saying that those medications don't have merit, (I definitely helped keep Motrin in business!), but they only treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause. The main point is that, folks need to attack the source of the pain (none withstanding actual structural damage).  And, in my experience, digging into the soft tissue is often the simplest and most effective answer when it comes to nagging, unresolved pains.

If you have some sort of pain that just never seems to go away, I would encourage you to go see a reputable ART therapist or PT to see if they can find the source of your pain. If you don't have the time (or money) to do so, check out this website and take a lacrosse ball and get rolling!