This week’s addition to our series of posts about nonsurgical treatments for back pain is about meditation and ‘movement’ therapy.
Complementary and alternative medicine includes a wide range of healing beliefs, approaches, and therapies that are not widely taught in medical schools, used in hospitals, or covered by health insurance. Always remember that not all techniques work for everyone. What works a friend may not be the key to your recovery. You may also know instinctively that a certain technique is not for you, while you can adapt to others quite well. Or, you may be someone who wants to try everything once to get a feel for what works and what does not.
The concept of meditation originates from various religious and cultural traditions. During meditation, the patient sits quietly and focuses on nothing or on a simple sound that is repeated continually (called mantra). This causes the patient to enter a deeply restful state that reduces the body’s stress response. The patient’s breathing slows, muscles relax, and brain-wave activity indicates a state of relaxation. Sometimes, meditation is used with biofeedback to help promote relaxation. Regular meditation can help reduce anxiety and chronic pain. It may reduce blood pressure and extend a person’s life.
Although meditation seems simple, learning to control one’s thoughts is not easy. But, the more an individual practices, the less difficult it becomes to hold concentration without having the mind wander.
An individual can learn meditation from a trained instructor or from a mental health professional.
These therapies contend that over time people start moving and holding their bodies in dysfunctional ways. Weaker muscles do the work of stronger muscles, causing stress and tension.
The patient is taken through a series of specific movements designed to teach him or her to use muscles and joints more comfortably and efficiently. The movements also help the patient find greater pleasure in, and ease with his or her body.
Practitioners of therapies such as the Feldenkrais and Trager methods believe they can help control pain and promote a sense of well-being. Although they appear to be safe, the benefits of these therapies are not proven scientifically.
Source: Prairie Spine and Pain Institute, Dr. Richard A. Kube II, MD.