• Lucy

Reiki? Osteopathy? supplements? My experience with alternative therapies for chronic pain...




Whatever your ache or pain, being in constant discomfort can get you down. If you decide you want to find an alternative to pain killers, there's a plethora of choices & it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. Here I'll share what has worked for me. I wanted alternatives as I react to most prescribed and over the counter pain killers other than paracetamol. I'm hyper-mobile and have suffered with back pain on and off since I was in my teens. Additional chronic pain which was eventually diagnosed as fibromyalgia presented further issues. Without many conventional pain killers that I can tolerate, here's what I've tried instead.......

Osteopathy

We happened upon a winner when I was looking for cranial osteopathy to treat my daughters reflux. When I hurt my back lifting said daughter out of the bath one day, I was rushed to hospital and sent on my merry way with painkillers and a slipped disk diagnosis. I was told to rest and it could take 6-8 weeks minimum to get better. I was doubled over and couldn’t walk or drive, I had no idea how was I suppose to look after a toddler....... My first call was to my osteopath. The wonderful lady who'd treated me and my daughter previously was unavailable so I was booked in with her colleague the next day.I hobbled in with a 'please help me' look on my face and literally 45 minutes later, leapt off the treatment table like new woman! Turns out it was no slipped disk,  the spasms and nerve pain were my body having a hissy fit (not the medical terminology).The point is without said osteopath I could have been laid up for weeks in pain, resulting in more injuries from being hunched over for weeks. I was treated for a while after, my chronic sciatica has disappeared, twinges have vanished and back issues have decreased dramatically. My osteopath has also treated many family and friends and all have reported great results, one even avoided back surgery! Here’s 5 tips for choosing an Osteopath: Shop around…. Just because someone holds a qualification doesn’t mean they are the best match for you, shop around until you are happy. You should be leaving the osteopath feeling better than you came… You may feel a little twinge or delicate from being stretched and worked on but you should not be in as much pain as you came in. If you do not see at least a little improvement, almost straight away, or at least after a session or two, it may be time to look again. They can treat during pregnancy! so if you are suffering with your back, hips or joints whilst pregnant, it may be worth a visit. You shouldn’t be paying a fortune... I know someone who was paying a top Harley street practitioner £65 for half hour before seeing my osteopath (£45-50 per session) and said Harley street man did nothing to improve her. Just because the price tag is high doesn’t mean they are any better.     Don’t just plump with being told there's nothing that can be done to ease your pain... My GP diagnosed me with sciatica when I was 18 and sent me on my way with a prescription.... my sciatica went on to cause nothing but grief but I was told there was nothing I could do so I learnt to live with it. During pregnancy it worsened and I could barely walk for the pain. During my visits to the osteopath it turned out I probably never had sciatica... nerves were being aggravated by an old fall which resulted in my pelvis being twisted and created the nerve pain across my lower back and down my legs. This weak spot gave way in the incident I mentioned above when I lifted my daughter out of the bath and was misdiagnosed as a slipped disk. In both instances, once the cause was treated the pain disappeared. All those years of suffering were gone in a couple of sessions and probably never necessary in the first place. My advice based on personal experience would be don’t just trust your first diagnosis. Mistakes happen and therapies and healthcare progress constantly. It's possible more can be done, so if you instinctively feel that's the case, follow your gut. Our recommendation for Surrey:Elizabeth House Osteopaths Elizabeth House Medical Practice 515 Limpsfield Road, Warlingham Surrey CR6 9LF http://www.osteocat.co.uk Telephone: 01883 621827 (during clinic hours only)Mobile: 07901 553371

Reiki

My first experience of Reiki was actually on a Reiki 1 training course..... it was a little impulsive to go and train in a therapy i'd never actually experienced but I went with my instincts and was drawn to it. Thankfully my gut was right because I loved it. Reiki is a Japanese healing art. A Reiki practitioner will use light touch which aims to change and balance the energy fields in and around you and use healing energy by laying their hands on your clothed body.

The Reiki council uses the following description: “Reiki”(ray-key)is Japanese for ’universal life energy", a term used to describe a system of natural healing.........We live in a world of energy that nourishes and maintains all living things. When this energy flows uninterrupted there is balance and harmony within and around us and we experience a sense of well being. ....in essence Reiki works at bringing us into balance and it is believed therefore to reinforce the body’s natural ability to heal itself at all levels, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual." read more on their web page here.

I love the idea that Reiki helps you re-balance so you can heal in the way your body was designed to. Removing tension and energetic stress works in the same way as washing dirt from a wound so it can repair. I found Reiki really relaxing and therapeutic and it relieved a lot of tension which had a positive impact on my physical pain. If you have ever had a head ache after a stressful day or tension in your neck after an argument, you have experienced physical manifestation of emotional stress. With that in mind, imagine the effect of consistent and chronic stress, emotional pain, turmoil or trauma on the body. For me Reiki went some way to help release a lot of that tension, increase energy flow and gave me so much more 'space' to grow emotionally and heal physically. I like the fact this gave me a modality to use my 'healing hands' and I still use it on myself, friends and family if they have had an injury or I've had a challenging day. (update: I liked it so much, I've now also qualified as a Reiki practitioner) So for me it's a winner, not an instant fix but if you know the wonders a day relaxing at the spa can do, Reiki feels like that on steroids...

Access Bars

Talking of energy therapies (i'll try anything new if it appeals) my newest discovery is access bars!If you are wondering what on earth they are, you can find in depth explanation here. I'm still new to the concept so wouldn't be able to give a full explanation justice. My understanding though is in a similar manner to Reiki, the access bars work with energy to re synthesise the body and mind and basically give you a good clear out energetically speaking.....They work by using gentle touch to various points on the head. It sounds a bit airy fairy but they have recently had a break through with scientific back up and if you listen to the testimonials you may, like me and be itching to give it a go.

This is more of an emotional clear out and re-balance and if you are in pain physically or emotionally or are just curious, this could be for you. I loved having my bars run and I could feel energy flow. Whatever it was I liked it! I felt very relaxed and like i'd been meditating for hours after the session. I felt the benefits continued as I was more patient, understanding and less quick to 'react' to situations in the following weeks. The bars also introduced me to access consciousness which is a whole other world to explore!

Whatever it is, was and does, I found this very beneficial for steadying my mind and felt clearer and lighter after the session. I even sent the husband for a session, his benefits are to be confirmed!

I was impressed enough to contemplate training in the bars so I can offer it to others. If I do I'll put details on my page. !(*UPDATE- I'm now a trained Bars practitioner! and can testify that the more the bars are run, the bigger, better and more amazing the results!) Either way, the relaxation as a result helped relax physical tension, I felt physically stretched as though i'd done a yoga class and I felt the sort of mental clarity I get after I've had a good clear out and spring clean around the house!? On top the remaining bonus is it's opened a door of possibilities, so all round a thumbs up.

Magnesium

Now I can't go without mentioning magnesium. It is vital to so many functions in the body and a quick search can reveal a magnitude of info. What I didn't realise until I started taking it was how much of a natural pain killing effect it can have. If you are deficient in magnesium which many people are because of our modern lifestyle, many aches and pains and also problems with many malfunctions in the body could be attributed to a lack of this mineral.Do some research before you supplement in case it's not right for you or contradicts any medication you are taking, but for me this has been a daily life saver. Great for cramp, sore muscles, tension and aching joints. You can also absorb Magnesium via the skin in a salt bath. Bath salts are incredibly therapeutic and magnesium is a natural component of the salts along with a huge amount of other beneficial minerals. These salts used alone or teamed with our aromatherapy mixes or dried botanical's can be used to help skin ailments, aid detox, relax muscles and decrease inflammation. There is evidence showing they can also help relieve pain associated with arthritis so definitely worth adding to the list. (you can find out how to make natural toxin free bath products containing Epsom/dead sea salts on my blog)


All the best on your journey discovering what works for you.


Lucy x

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