HANNA SOMATIC EDUCATION THERAPY FOR CHRONIC PAIN AND DEPRESSION…

Hanna Somatic Education (aka HSE) teaches you how to release muscles that have involuntarily contracted. Thomas Hanna, PhD developed Hanna Somatic Education over the course of two decades of work in the field of Somatic Education. He began as a Feldenkrais practitioner, and developed his own method of Somatic Education after studying neurology at the University of Miami Medical School.

It was there that he did research into the muscular ways in which all humans respond to stress reflexes and how these full body reflexes can habituate at the level of the central nervous system, causing muscular pain that contributes to many common pain conditions. Clinical Somatic Education developed from the hands-on methods of Thomas Hanna as well as other innovations from present-day somatic pioneers.

There are only a few Somatic therapists in the UK and one is Jonathan Hunt, a former Premiership footballer who had to retire in 2003 due to back pain. When manipulative therapies failed to help him, he tried the Hanna Somatic programme and was so impressed that he trained as a therapist himself.

Everyday Health said tensing our muscles is so automatic for many of us that we don’t know how to hold our bodies in any other way. Hans Selye, a famous endocrinologist, once said, “all of life is stress.” Our reaction to our daily stress gets absorbed into our bodies; if we’re not aware of it, we can go days, months, years, even an entire lifetime in a state of amnesia — called sensory-motor amnesia.

Sensory-motor amnesia is a “habituated state of forgetfulness of how certain muscles feel and how to effectively coordinate them” — chronic muscular contractions that lead to the common physical complaints that we usually mistake for the natural aging process, according to the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training.

Some of the suggested exercises for backache are: Lie on your back, arms resting by your side, knees bent, and feet hip-width apart tucked up near your bottom. As you breathe in, arch your lower back by pressing your tail bone down, then very slowly flatten your back into the floor as you exhale, to relax. Rest, and then repeat slowly and gently ten to 15 times. When you finish, straighten and stretch your legs. Don’t attempt any of these until you have checked with your GP first and don’t overdo them as they should be comfortable.

 

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OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY FOR PEOPLE IN CHRONIC PAIN…

On the NHS website their description of Occupational Therapy is ‘Occupational therapy aims to improve your ability to do everyday tasks if you’re having difficulties

Occupational therapy is given to you by a therapist who is someone who can check your posture at work and at home, they can check your work-related positions and posture and suggest ways to help alleviate your pain at work or your work at home. They can also provide advice, look at ways an everyday task can be done differently; recommend alterations or changes at home; refer you to other services to help you and help you address work-related issues.

Occupational therapists can help you with practical tasks if you:

  • are physically disabled
  • are recovering from an illness or operation
  • have learning disabilities
  • have mental health problems
  • are getting older

Occupational therapists have specialist knowledge and can advise you on disability equipment, housing adaptations and adaptations to the workplace. They are available through the NHS and your GP can put you in contact with your nearest therapist.

Within the context of chronic pain, occupational therapists evaluate the pain’s impact on your activities and quality of life, and equip you with the skills and strategies to manage the pain.

Occupational therapists can help you to carry out activities despite experiencing pain suggesting techniques to help you to conserve energy, and provide advice on caring for your muscles.

I have to admit I have not seen an occupational therapist and until I started reading into their services I was of the opinion they were mainly for the severely disabled and elderly.

I have always said to my children that ‘if you don’t ask you won’t get’ and ‘ if you don’t try you will never know’. So, I guess I should have asked as you just might get one pointer that could help you in one way or another.

YOGA TO HELP WITH BACK PAIN…

Yoga is based on rhythm and breathing rather than core strength, so it’s useful for relaxation and stress. There are lots of different types of Yoga available today but some good ones for pain are Bikram Yoga, Yin, Iyengar Yoga and Glow Yoga.

Bikram Yoga is a unique series of 26 Hatha Yoga postures and 2 breathing exercises, performed in a heated room to enhance your stretching. It covers a series of postures which have been scientifically designed to work every part of the body in the correct order. The heat facilitates stretching, prevents injury and promotes sweating, which aids detoxification.

Yin Yoga is a yoga for the joints that stretches the connective tissue. It is a very distinctive style of Chinese yoga, which some believe is the oldest form of Hatha yoga. Yang exercises work your heart and muscles and the exercises are floor-based. Lying down can immediately relax your body and unlike other Yogas, you hold your posture for up to ten minutes. It has been said to feel like ‘peeling off layers of tension’.

Iyengar Yoga is perfect for people who feel ‘stiff’. It’s the safest and most effective way to stretch your whole body and improve your flexibility. It’s characterised by great attention to detail and precise focus on body alignment with the use of ‘props’, such as cushions, benches, blocks and even sand bags.

There are more than 200 deep poses, which you work towards holding for up to two minutes, which make it great for lengthening your muscles. They say it is a perfect type of yoga, if you’ve got a muscular or joint injury. With so many different types of Yoga available, it gets a bit confusing as to which one to choose, but it’s really a case of try one, then try another.

Healthline have an article with the ten best yoga poses for back pain, but please don’t try these if you have never done yoga before, check with your GP then try a class with a fully qualified instructor.

Another company Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs has a video you can watch on specific yoga moves for lower back pain. On the NHS website they also have an article on how ‘yoga may improve back pain’.

The British Wheel of Yoga website has lots of information about Yoga and the 30th OM Yoga Show which takes place 18th/19th & 20th October.

My book of choice would be ‘Yoga Therapy: A Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Yoga and Ayurveda For Health and Fitness’, by A G Mohan.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU IGNORE BACK PAIN?…

 

What happens if you ignore back pain? They say that up to 7% of people with acute back pain will develop chronic back pain.

If your back pain started after a simple movement, like picking up a book from the floor then it’s possible you could have a slipped disc or a joint problem in your spine.

However, back pain is second only to headaches as the most common location of pain so it could be a simple strain.

They say that many people who lead sedentary lives suffer back pain, or have inherited a genetic susceptibility to back pain.

Of course there are other conditions that can cause back pain. Severe intermittent back pain that goes down to your groin, could indicate that you have kidney stones. Pain in the middle of your back, which becomes worse after eating, could indicate a stomach ulcer. Neighbouring organs problematic? Back pain can also be the result of abscesses, blood clots or tumours in other organs near the spine.

People working in a job that causes vibration like a truck driver can also suffer from back pain. It is a fact that in a two-week period of time, between 25 – 33% of all adults get some form of back pain, so you are far from being on your own.

Back pain became a part of life when humans started walking upright, rather than on all fours. The vertebrae were never really designed to deal with walking upright.

You have to remember that the spine, is like a central scaffolding for the rest of the body. The skull, the ribs, the pelvis and the limbs are attached to it.

In about 85% of acute back pain cases, the exact cause cannot be identified. But the spine is so strong that it can withstand the pressure of hundreds of kilograms.

Always look after your scaffolding and visit your GP if you have any problems before it becomes chronic and remember the Red alert. When certain conditions, are present together with back pain, such as loss of bowel or bladder control, numbness, pins and needles, rapid weight loss, a history of cancer, or drug use, pain unrelated to movement, you should go straight to hospital or phone for an Ambulance.

One of the best sites for up to date research and articles is The British Pain Society which has articles on all things related to pain including pain management programs and pain clinics in the UK.

THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BACK PAIN…

1. Acute Pain

Acute Pain is a pain that lasts less than 3 to 6 months, or pain directly related to tissue damage. This is the type of pain caused by a paper cut or needle prick. Other examples of acute pain are like labour pains, the pain is acute and identifiable.

Acute low back pain is defined as a pain present for up to six weeks. It could feel like an aching, stabbing, burning, or dull pain. The actual intensity of this type of low back pain could range from mild to severe and could fluctuate or move to other areas of your body like your hip or thigh area.

2. Chronic Pain

Chronic pain describes pain that lasts more than three to six months, or beyond the point of tissue healing. Chronic pain is usually less directly related to identifiable tissue damage and structural problems. Chronic back pain without a clearly determined cause, failed back surgery syndrome (continued pain after the surgery has completely healed), and fibromyalgia are all examples of chronic pain. Chronic pain is much less well understood than acute pain.

Chronic pain can take many forms, but is often described as a pain with an identifiable cause, such as an injury. Certain structural spine conditions, including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis, can cause ongoing pain until they are successfully treated.

3. Neuropathic Pain

Neuropathic pain could be placed in the chronic pain category, but it has a different feel than chronic musculoskeletal pain. The pain is often described as severe, sharp, lightning-like, stabbing, burning, or cold. The individual may also experience ongoing numbness, tingling, or weakness. Pain may be felt along the nerve path from the spine down to the arms/hands or legs/feet.

It is thought that the pain is caused by damage or disease affecting the somatosensory nervous system. Neuropathic pain may be associated with abnormal sensations called dysesthesia or pain from normally non-painful stimuli (allodynia). It may have continuous and/or episodic (paroxysmal) components.