Chronic Pain Part 1

All of us deal with pain at some point in our lives.

Obviously there are different types of pain. The acute pain from say a sprained ankle. There's chronic pain which is any pain that lasts 3 months or more, and then there's the life draining, soul sucking pain that only comes from being a Chargers fan!

This article is going to deal with chronic pain.
Again, defined as any pain lasting longer than 3 months, but my belief is that pain that comes and goes, such as back pain or headaches you get often but maybe not necessarily lasting for months at a time also falls into this category.  

Science has shown that there are two main drivers of chronic pain.

1).  Lack of kinetic flow, (movement).
2).  Not being grounded to the earths electrical field.

In this article I'll cover the lack of kinetic flow and I'll address the grounding issue in my next article.

There are more than 200.000 cases of chronic pain diagnosed every year in the US alone.
Chronic pain is much more common in developed countries.
A study from the Netherlands showed that only 6% of pain syndrome is a single occurrence.
Example, 85% of back pain will reoccur.
And this is scary, taking NSAIDS or opiates only makes things worse.
A study from the University of Colorado in 2016 showed that taking opioids for 5 days makes the pain worse and last longer.

It's amazing the gap between research and clinical practice, but all the current studies show that lack of kinetic flow is the single most common cause of  chronic pain.
This was well documented in 93' by Dr. H. Hooshmand.

You see, movement is literally food for your brain.
50% of your spinal chord is dedicated to kinetic flow.
When your brain doesn't get this essential nutrient, it literally starves and the signal it gives off is pain! 

We as a society don't move much these days. If you think about it our ancestors had to move a lot more just to survive.
Because of this it's in our DNA to move consistently through out the day. 
Even if you work out 2 hours every day, what are you doing the other 22 hours?

We're seeing this sedentary lifestyle reflected in our posture.

70% of all people in modern populations show what I see all the time in my practice is excessive forward head carriage.

When you look at yourself from the side your ear should be centered over your shoulder. For every inch your head travels forward you essentially double the weight of your head. Most heads weigh about 10 - 14 pounds. ( Except mine which weighs maybe 3 - 4 pounds due to my freakishly small brain).
It's not uncommon for me to see patients and I'm seeing this in younger and younger people with a 3 inch forward lean. That means your now caring a 40 pound bowling ball on your neck and shoulders.
This excessive weight is causing all the surrounding muscles to have to work harder and strain just to support the additional weight, which causes the muscles to load up with scar tissue.
Our lifestyle is also causing a condition called, PPS. Posture Prolapse Syndrome.
This is the loss of the secondary curves of our spine. (The normal curves in your neck and low back).
Someone with forward head carriage and or a flat butt are classic signs of this condition in humans. 
This has been shown to be a leading contributor to back and neck pain, headaches, TMJ and carpal tunnel syndrome.
It also can literally cause a 30% reduction in lung capacity affecting your breathing.
This would mean that breathing at sea level would be like trying to breath at 11,000 feet elevation.

Turns out that humans are not the only ones suffering from this issue.
Killer Whales also do. See the picture at top. Notice how his fin is bent over? That's not normal.
Orcas normally travel about 40 miles a day and dive down to 500 ft. and when they can't do that by spending their lives pinned up in a tank they also suffer from PPS and you see it in their fallen dorsal fin.  
Research has also shown us the most effective methods for helping chronic pain.

1).  Rhythmic movement.
2).  Myofascial release, of which ART, Active Release Technique is probably the most effective.
3). Mobilization or Manipulation of the joints which increases range of motion which leads to more movement. (Remember, joints were meant to move).  A stuck joint means PAIN!

A great example of rhythmic movement for the neck which is part of the spinal hygiene I teach my patients is what's called coupled movement. Stand up straight. Imagine a dot on your chin and one on each shoulder. Your going to slowly connect the dots by leading with your eyes. Don't raise your shoulders to cheat. Don't force the range it will come. Do 10 to 12 reps several times a day. 

To get the curve back in your neck and or low back roll up a towel, about 3 inches wide and when you go to bed place this at the base of your neck and at your low back and just lay there for no more than 5 minutes. You want the back of your head to be in contact with the surface your lying on without extending your head. If you can't do that bend your knees, that should get your head flat.
  We are trying to affect the ligaments and we want to go slow with that. It takes time, don't try to force it.

A fantastic tool and a God send for any one who has a desk job or sits a lot is a stability ball.
Turns out the thing that's so bad about sitting is the lack of, you guessed it, movement.
When you sit on a ball you are using muscles you may not even be aware of just to not fall off. Bouncing is a great rhythmic motion.
Study after study show that kids who sit on a ball in class have higher test scores, more concentration, more alertness.

A good approach to training would be to spread  your workout throughout the day. It's okay to train hard in one session but rhythmic movement through the day is more in line with how our bodies are hard wired. 
If you look at the cultures that reside in what are called Blue Zones, the people that routinely live to 100 don't kill them selves in the gym. They move all day but more things like walking hills and or gardening.
In fact a few minuets of light movement before bed is a great way to improve sleep quality.

Thai Chi is a fantastic system in that it honors the fact that most human movement is actually a spiraling motion. Thai Chi is all about spiraling motion.

A good chiropractor, ( I just happen to know a great one)  can mobilize stuck joints you probably aren't even aware you have as you usually cannot feel a stuck joint until it's already creating increased wear and tear of the joint itself.
A good body worker who knows myofascial release techniques can work miracles.

(I'm bringing a very good massage therapist into the office this week)!

The bottom line is that the combination of these therapies does offer real hope in diminishing or eliminating chronic pain............ 

Again, be on the lookout for my next article that will look at the connection or lack there of, grounding which is another common source of chronic pain and disease.

As always, Watching your back.  Dr. Steve