Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Stressed Out for Jesus?

Over the years many people have come to see me to treat them for pain.  I use massage as a primary approach.  During the history taking portion of the intake I like to ask about their stress level.  It is not uncommon for people to tell me that they have a low level of stress.

I am often amazed at this affirmation as they talk to me during our time together.  They often relate the death or hospitalization of close relatives, their pet just got ran over, their mother in law is moving in, and the IRS is getting ready to audit them. 

These people may seem to deal well with what is happening on the outside but their tight tissues often tell a different story.  As a person lies on my treatment table I look for signs that tell me that they are in a state known as Freeze, Fight, or Flight.  This is not a diagnosis – just an observation.  There are some tell tale signs.  They may be the foundation of another post.  People seem to get stuck here.

As Christians, I believe the scripture teaches that we can often do better than we do.  Jesus said “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  This is above all a call to salvation.  We are to renounce our own ways of trying to live and cling to Christ alone.  We learn of him in Scripture alone.
We never get past this need of Christ.  We need him for our salvation.  We also need him daily as we live this life.  He still wants our burdens.  We are told “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” There is certainly much more to say about this. 

Christians get stressed out to.  How we handle it is very important spiritually.  It may well be very important in relation to our pain.  If we take our pain to Christ we may well learn much from it.  It may draw us closer to him.  Drawing near to him may well calm our hearts.  Meditating on what he has done for us can get our eyes off of our cares.  Ministering to someone else can do this as well.  There are many ways that we can handle the causes of our stress for the sake of Christ that may well have an effect on our pain as well.  Be anxious for nothing…

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Christian Distraction may decrease pain

The last weekend was interesting. I had a hot water heater that gave up the ghost. The experience helped to focus on some interesting things that pertain to pain management and how this relates to life as a Christian. It happened on Sunday. I stayed home to be ready to handle any disasters that might arise. During that time I saw my neighbor outside. He had missed church also. I mentioned my problem, just in passing. He seized on the opportunity and asked if he could put in a new water heater. We spent the next few hours together. In the end I had a problem resolved. Then came the shocker. My neighbor thanked me. He thanked me for allowing him to help. He then told me that he was out of his pain medication and that keeping busy as he had helped to distract him from the pain. Pain science now tells us what we have known for a good long time. Distraction aids in pain relief. The brain focuses intently and blocks out other stimuli. In the course of living life as a Christian we are not to live isolation. We are to be spending time with others. In the course of a life lived with other we are to minister to them and not just focus on ourselves. Christians learn in many places in the Bible that they are to serve others. We do this because our hearts have been changed. We do this because we are commanded to serve. We do it because God’s Spirit makes us willing. It is a mark of a Christian to serve out of love. My neighbor served me out of love. It also helped his pain. He did not serve to get out of pain. We are created in Christ to serve God and each other. We do this out of love. This along with a mindset that causes us to reflect often on God and his work is an important part of our Christian life. It may well have the side effect of helping to manage our pain.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pain Independance Day - Yours?

I woke up today in what is perceived by many to be a free country.  I can pretty much Do what I want.  At least I can do what I want within certain prescribed boundaries.  I can’t just go out and steal.  I can’t go out and do treasonous activities.  If I do these things there are certain consequences.

This freedom came at a price.  It came at a great price.  The parallels to those in pain and what they can do for themselves have been on my mind today.  I see at least 4 that I would like to mention today.

Decision – Our forefathers spent a good deal of time trying to work out their issues with the crown.  At some point they made a decision.  We call it the Declaration of Independence.  At that point they laid it all on the line and charted a new course. 

People in pain often try a few skirmishes.  These include many things for different people.  In my case I took 8-12 aspirin for about 2 years to deal with the pain that I developed following a hit and run.  I was on the bicycle.  The car was bigger.  At some point I made a decision to do what I needed to do to develop a lifestyle to deal with my issue.  People in pain need to make this decision.  It often has consequences.  One of the better ones is decreased pain and often the ability to do activities that were limited by that pain.

Work – A decision was a good start but work was required.  An army had to be raised.  The colonies had to work together.  It was a formidable task to go against vastly superior forces that were better trained.  People who hurt need to work also.  I have had many clients tell me that they are not willing to do anything that is required in order to get better.  That is why they have insurance.  It is not their fault that they hurt and somebody else better “fix” them.

These people usually don’t get well.  Pain is an output of the brain.  It is a message that we need to do something to change the situation.  Apart from a decision and then active work to deal with the besetting issues there is rarely resolution.  Therapists rarely “fix” anyone or anything.  People need to work toward resolution.  This often means dealing with habits, environments, and underlying thoughts and attitudes.  The Biblical concept of the heart includes intellect, will, and affections.  How this can be applied to pain will be developed in later posts.  I simply want to point out that change in these areas requires work.

Sacrifice – Our forefathers had to sacrifice tremendously.  Many lost all they had.  Many lost their lives.  Others lost friends and relatives.  Those in pain often need to make sacrifices.  The diabetic needs to avoid sugar.  That is hard.  Some people need to avoid gluten.  Others simply need to spend more time in bed – that can be hard.  Entertainments often need to be changed.  All of this can be difficult.  Rarely does relief from chronic pain come without some type of lifestyle change that is perceived initially as a sacrifice.

Recurrence – Our forefathers were not done when the war was over.  It was quickly followed by the War of 1812.  They had to do the same thing all over again.  Those who find relief from pain often find that it comes back.  They need to keep dealing with the issue.  It requires a lifestyle of vigilance.  Habitat and Habits may need to change.

Today is a good day to make a decision to deal with your pain.  Let July 4th be a day of decision to work and sacrifice to make a change in your pain.  Keep checking here for help.

Christian Pain Management Blog - Pittsburgh: Pain Specialist?

Christian Pain Management Blog - Pittsburgh: Pain Specialist?: A pain specialist is just what it sounds like.  Is your pain new or old?  Does it keep you from doing things at work or with kids or grandkids.  We have an approach for that.  The approach is simple.
·        Calm down the nervous system and begin moving.
·        Look for the things that keep the nervous system on alert.
·        Start to move in non painful ways. 
This is what your body needs and wants.

Don’t look for or expect a specific technique.  That is not what pain treatment is about.  Your nervous system gets to decide what works and there is no one size fits all technique.  Instead – I listen to your story.  That helps me decide what approach I might take.  My technique varies based on your response.  This is all about what your nervous system needs.

Why this approach?  This approach is taken because of how modern pain science tells us your body reacts.  When your brain senses that danger is afoot it often creates pain.  This is a message that your body uses tell you to Withdraw from the pain.  This is like hitting your thumb with a hammer.  Your response is immediate.  You just can’t help it.  You pull your thumb away.  Then you Protect it.  You hold it to keep it safe.  This is where most people are at when they come in for treatment.  Their muscles pull them into a protective cocoon.  This tightening up protects us but tends to keep the blood that carries important “stuff” like oxygen and food to your nerves. Therapy aims to take you toward Resolution.  In this phase you begin to move, the nerves get their nutrients, oxygen and other needed chemicals.  Most importantly, your brain doesn’t sense a threat and tells the body to relax.  It stops – you get relief.

I recommend wearing a tee shirt and running shorts to treatment.  This gives me access to skin if I need it.  Most importantly – you get to be comfortable!