Treatment for Chronic Pain in Anchorage, AK

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What is Chronic Pain?
What’s Causing My Chronic Pain?
How is Chronic Pain Treated?
How Counterstrain Works to Relieve Chronic Pain
Receiving Treatment During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Can Slips & Falls Cause Chronic Pain?

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is persistent pain that carries on for longer than 3-6 months despite medication or treatment.  Chronic pain can occur in nearly any part of your body. It can feel sharp or dull, steady or intermittent, or come and go without any apparent reason.  What’s happening is that pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, or even years. These signals can be hard to stop, are often intense, and at times, start for no obvious reason. Though it isn’t always easy to understand, it’s important to be aware that this pain is indeed still “real”.

What’s Causing My Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can be caused by conditions that come with aging, injuries that fail to heal properly, a medical condition, such as joint degeneration, autoimmune disorders, or diseases. It’s common for long-lasting pain to also cause changes in the way people perceive pain signals. As a result, the nervous system becomes over-sensitive to pain, so people can feel pain with very little painful input.

Inflammation around an injury or condition causes pain. However, a growing number of researchers have begun to acknowledge that chronic inflammation of fascia could be the underlying cause of chronic pain. Fascia is the thin connective tissue that coats all parts of the body, for instance, the underside of your skin, around muscles, nerves, and every vessel. Research has shown that distortion, inflammation and dysfunction of fascia have been linked to chronic pain. 

What makes fascia so important to chronic pain is that nearly all nerve endings that signal pain are housed within your fascia. When strained, fascia produces pro-inflammatory chemicals that lead those same nerve endings to become irritated and painful. It’s important to understand that fascia is not just a system of separate thin layer coverings. Fascia is actually the one structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. In this way you can begin to see that each part of the entire body is connected to every other part by fascia. 

If you would like to find out about the role of fascia in causing pain, please feel free to contact us. 

How is Chronic Pain Treated?

The treatments for chronic pain are as diverse as the causes. From over-the-counter and prescription drugs to mind/body techniques to acupuncture, there are a lot of approaches. But when it comes to treating chronic pain, we’ve found that no single technique is as effective in helping pain relief as a drug-free, nonsurgical, hands-on therapy called “Fascial Counterstrain”.  With the recent discovery of the central role of fascia as the underlying cause of chronic pain, Fascial Counterstrain stands alone in resolving distortion, inflammation, and dysfunction of this thin connective tissue that coats the underside of your skin, wraps around and through muscles, the brain, veins, nerves, arteries, and more.

Have you ever asked yourself, “why hasn’t treatment helped my chronic pain yet?”

You are not alone. Keep in mind that even widely-used standard medical treatments and medications don’t help 100% of people, in fact a limited number of medical studies estimate that the occurrence of chronic pain ranges from 11-40%. These large numbers suggest that there is something missing in our understanding and treatment of chronic pain. You might wonder, “what is it that we don’t understand?” This is where the emerging role of fascia as central to chronic pain looks to be a promising answer. 

What does fascia have to do with chronic pain? Because nearly all nerve endings that communicate pain reside in your fascia, muscle pain is actually signaled to your brain from the nerve endings in that muscle’s fascia. Alternatively, if your pain is in a joint or an organ, it is the nerve endings in the fascia of that joint or organ that tell you there’s pain.

When part of your body gets irritated or injured local fascia and muscle go into spasm producing inflammation, this is a natural part of your body’s healing process, however, the inflammation will cause yet more pain, this is known as the pain-spasm-pain cycle. In chronic pain you get stuck in a repeated loop of this cycle, this occurs because the inflammation gets effectively trapped within the local fascia resulting in chronic inflammation which causes chronic pain.

If you get stuck in a pain-spasm loop, chronic pain can prolong over a lifetime if the fascia is not treated correctly. It is worth noting that chronic inflammation as it’s referred to here is not the same as visible swelling; thus, your injury doesn’t have to look swollen for it to have inflammation. 

We have only briefly touched on the importance of fascia in causing pain, but if you would like to find out more, please contact us.

Are there alternatives to drugs and medications to control or relieve my chronic pain?

Prescriptions for powerful drugs to treat chronic pain problems commonly add to the problem because ever-higher doses are often needed to keep the pain at bay.  The term ”alternative therapy” generally is used to describe any medical treatment or intervention that is used in place of conventional medicine.   Alternative therapy encompasses a variety of disciplines, includingacupuncture, physical therapy,chiropractic treatment,yoga, and yes, Fascial Counterstrain.

All too often, people find themselves taking drugs to reduce their pain, often because they have not been able to find an effective alternative treatment. Given the central role of fascia in chronic pain and inflammation, a treatment that addresses breaking the endless pain-spasm loop is vital to successfully treating chronic pain. Drugs try to break this loop by reducing inflammation and reducing the sensitivity of our nerve endings. While this can temporarily help your pain, when you come off the drugs, chronic pain often returns eventually. This is because pain drugs only address the pain part of the pain-spasm loop. In order to fundamentally address and stop the pain-spasm loop, you need to address both the painful inflammation and the spasm. Most treatments address only one of these. That is why Fascial Counterstrain therapy is a leading chronic pain treatment because it effectively addresses both parts of the pain-spasm loop.  

If you want to find out more about how treating fascia is an effective alternative to medication, please feel free to contact us.

How Counterstrain Works to Relieve Chronic Pain

Your body will nearly always try to protect you from injury. It does this naturally with automatic reflexes that warn and guard you against any event that might cause you pain or injury. In part, this natural reflex involves the tightening and spasming of muscles and fascia in order to guard the body from further harm. Spasming fascia can affect any part of the body, not just muscles. This means that a spasm in fascia can negatively affect a nerve, an artery, a vein, joint cartilage, a part of the lymphatic system, a bone, and even an organ.

The spasming of muscles and fascia combined with injury-triggered inflammation makes you more sensitive to pain. These are all parts of a natural protective process that should shut off once the body has healed, however this process can become stuck and go wrong when inflammation becomes trapped in your fascia. Trapped inflammation maintains your pain. Actually, your pain is often made chronic and worse as your body gets and stays stuck in a compensation “guarding” pattern that was originally initiated to protect the injury site.

Fascial Counterstrain is designed to relieve pain by releasing fascia spasm in all parts of the body. This approach triggers the release of the associated trapped inflammation, providing long-lasting pain relief. Releasing the stressors of inflammation and fascia spasm allows the body to relax and return back to a more properly-functioning “factory settings” state.

The way Fascial Counterstrain works is by relaxing your body’s fascial tissue with precise and gentle positioning. The precise positioning and relaxation of specific anatomy allows painful, trapped inflammation to drain out of the fascial tissue in need of help – whether it was nerve tissue, arterial or vein tissue, muscle tissue, etc. It is a simple solution with profound effects for complex problems.

Fascial Counterstrain treatment has three main effects: 1) effectively drains inflammation, 2) resets the reflex triggering the inflammation, and 3) reduces inflammation and tightness, allowing the body to achieve optimal healing & health. These three effects often provide long-term pain relief for most people. The bonus benefit of receiving Fascial Counterstrain treatment is that you get help for the most hidden causes of pain that can reside in any part of the body. 

If you are interested in finding out more about how fascial counterstrain works please feel free to contact us. 

Chronic Pain Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ

If you have a question about Chronic Pain please feel free to call us. We’re mindful some Chronic Pain questions involve medication(s), and if you would prefer to be anonymous, please ask us using this anonymous email form below and we’ll post our response to your question here.

Can You Treat My Chronic Pain During the Coronavirus / Covid-19 Pandemic?

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 developments, we want to ensure our patients continue to make progress toward their goals and recovery from chronic pain. Staying on track with your plan of care is important now more than ever, which is why we are staying committed to your wellness and safety during this uncertain time.

Physical therapists are considered part of the essential critical workforce and have been given approval to continue operating under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 guidelines. Our services remain integral in both keeping you free of chronic pain and away from primary care physicians, orthopedic surgeons, and emergency rooms that are currently using all their capacity to provide needed services to more acute or critical conditions.

Increased sedentary activity and increased levels of stress resulting from the current pandemic and social distancing have the potential to intensify symptoms for those suffering from chronic pain. Also, feelings of anxiety and depression can significantly hinder a chronic pain rehabilitation program. By remaining open, we are providing a safe and effective treatment option to medicinal alternatives. Because we take extra precautions and follow CDC guidelines, our clinic is considered low risk for exposure. 

A study of post-COVID-19 patients indicates that 44% of patients experienced a degraded quality of life. Of this group, a high percentage of individuals still reported tiredness (53%), difficulty breathing (43%), joint pain, (27.3%) and chest pain (22%). Although no medical studies exist yet that prove Fascial Counterstrain can help chronic symptoms post COVID-19, within the Fascial Counterstrain therapy community we have found that many of our clients with chronic symptoms actually improved after being treated with Fascial Counterstrain. 

We believe that since Fascial Counterstrain uniquely specializes in helping drain inflammation away from arteries, veins, nerves and organs (including the lungs and heart), it can directly help those suffering from chronic symptoms post-COVID-19. To our knowledge, there is no other manual therapy better suited than Fascial Counterstrain to be able to help reduce inflammation around the heart and lungs.  

Our CHECK-IN PROCEDURES

  • No Waiting Rooms – We are asking that patients enter the clinic at the time of their appointment and if they arrive early to wait outside. When scheduling patients, we are staggering patient appointments to minimize overlap.
  • Wellness Screen – We are screening all patients and guests entering the clinic for COVID-19 related symptoms, recent travel, or potential exposure.
  • Cleaning – We ask that all patients wash their hands before and after their therapy session.   Our team members will clean all equipment, tables, chairs, etc. before and after each patient use. For each patient, our therapists change their clothes. Hand sanitizer is available and encouraged to be used between exercises and treatment modalities.
  • Treatment – is provided to only one patient at a time; no other patients will be in the same room. When working with a patient, we wear a KN95 mask, and we expect all our patients to wear a CDC approved mask while inside the clinic.

If you are interested in finding out more about treatment, please feel free to call us.

Can Slips and Falls Cause Chronic Pain?

The ramifications of a slip and fall can radiate throughout the body, causing stiffness, aches, serious injury and long-term chronic pain. While falls are the leading cause of both brain injuries and hip fractures, commonplace injuries we sustain from slips and falls involve the deep muscles of our backs and are what are called “soft tissue” injuries.  However, if left untreated, soft tissue injuries can evolve into chronic pain, and may also make you more vulnerable to subsequent injuries.  

Slipping on ice and falling over has the potential to injure your body in two different ways. If not properly treated, it is easy to understand the possibility of chronic pain resulting from an injury created by the impact of falling over. For example, landing on your hands might cause a break, fracture, strain, or sprain of your wrist, elbow or shoulder. A second, less intuitive cause of injury when slipping on ice is your body’s reflexive jerk that tries to prevent you from falling over. It can be this rapid movement that can “pull” your back. When this is followed by the impact of the fall, injuries like a “pulled” lower back, herniated or bulging disc, or spinal misalignment can occur. If these injuries are not properly treated, they can wreak havoc on the rest of the body, creating pain in the neck, head, and extremities. If left untreated, these can evolve into chronic pain. 

Chronic pain from a slip or fall can occur because either your injury (like a slipped or bulging disc) or its associated spasming and inflamed fascia haven’t fully healed. Ineffective treatment and incomplete healing of chronic soft tissue conditions can occur because one of the underlying causes of chronic pain, “chronically-inflamed spasming-fascia” is not being adequately addressed. This can occur because either the approach to treatment or what is being treated is wrong. What is worse is that the chronic pain related to chronic fascia problems is unlikely to heal on its own (read above to find out more).

For example, when you have an injury, it is not just one part of the body that can be affected. One might understandably think of a bulging disc as a problem with the related disc, muscles, ligaments or bones, thus addressing these with treatment should help resolve your pain and injury. However, around the back there are also many other structures like nerves, veins, arteries, and organs that can also cause chronic pain. Once you understand that it is actually the spasming-inflamed-fascia around these structures that is contributing to your pain (read above) it becomes clear that a solution that treats the fascia of all these structures may be necessary. Common conditions associated with slips and falls that cause chronic pain will need an approach that addresses both the fascia spasm and inflammation. To date Fascial Counterstrain treatment is the only manual therapy that can effectively do this, since it is able to work on any part of the body, both draining inflammation and relaxing spasm at the same time.

If you would like to find out more about how fascia might underly chronic pain caused by common conditions, feel free to contact us.

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