As I have mentioned in previous posts, chronic pain - whether of the pelvis or another area of the body - is multidimensional and complex. Learning about your condition, your body, and your available tools to recover is an essential element to navigating that maze and managing your pain. That is why I place such a high emphasis on client education and teaching self care techniques for my massage clients.
Health education consists of two parts to be effective. The first part is demystifying your condition. Usually the healthcare provider who makes the diagnosis will cover that part. Feel confident that you can ask your doctor, chiro, specialist, whomever you are speaking with to go in as much depth as you need, in as simple or as technical a language you need to feel comfortable understanding your health state.
For idiopathic conditions, or conditions with no known cause, learning the pain science can often be just as helpful. Any health practitioner you see should be able to work with you here. Anxiety can lead to catastrophic thinking which has been shown to increase pain levels. When pain persists for weeks, months, or years without explanation, being able to grasp something about what’s going on can help keep your mind from creating worst case scenarios which could exaggerate the pain. (Please note, I am not saying the pain is all in your head, but rather your mental state can affect how much pain you feel!) Basically, having an understanding of how your body processes pain even if you are uncertain why the pain exists can be extremely helpful to decrease anxiety and therefore reduce pain. The second part of effective pain relief education is learning pain management skills. Learning these tools and implementing them are necessary for regaining the sense of control that might be diminished or lost by a condition that seems to have a mind of its own. Grounding, meditation, supportive wear, stretches, journaling, exercises, visualizations, posture retraining, movement reeducation, self massage techniques, and other practices are tangible pieces of pain self management that can be super useful in working through a flare. What’s more, using these skills consistently can help retrain your nervous system, leading to a faster rate of improvement by promoting change in between sessions with a professional.
Massage is a valuable piece to pain freedom. It is a wonderful therapy to get you back to your life. But you use your body daily, and as wonderful as it would be, you are probably not getting a professional massage every day. Home care tools augment in office therapy, giving you a sense of control and speeding your recovery through continued neuromuscular reeducation reinforcement. Use them wisely and often to tackle your pain! What are some self care tools you use every day? When did you learn them? How have they helped? Let me know in the comments!