What conditions can Somatics help?
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is most often caused by habitual misuse of the body. Over time, we develop habitual patterns in our posture and movement that can lead to tightness, pain and even structural damage. (To learn about how we develop these habitual patterns and how Somatics relieves chronic pain, please go to the How does Somatics work? page.)
For example, a movement pattern in which the knees are misused repeatedly will usually first result in pain due to muscle tightness or tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons). If the misuse continues, cartilage could be worn away and tendons and ligaments could be torn. This damage to the structure of the knee would be entirely due to the way that the person is habitually moving, and is entirely avoidable.
Western medicine tends to focus on symptoms when classifying and recommending treatment for chronic pain conditions, as opposed to examining and addressing the underlying causes. Chronic pain treatments typically take the approach of managing symptoms and trying to fix the physical structure, when in reality the function – how we are using our bodies – is what needs to be addressed.
Below is a list of chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions that Somatics can relieve, eliminate and prevent. Please read below for further explanation of the causes of chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Neck & shoulder tension
Rotator cuff injuries
Spasms & cramps
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Uneven leg length
Most common chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions, which are thought to be structural, are actually the result of neuromuscular functioning and can be prevented, significantly improved or eliminated completely.
These are conditions which refer to symptoms experienced within the muscles themselves, and occur as a result of chronic muscle contraction. Muscular conditions include tightness, soreness, pain, cramps and spasms.
Connective Tissue Conditions
These conditions describe painful inflammation of connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) which are being strained by tight muscles and damaging movement patterns. Examples of connective tissue conditions include tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
These are conditions in which nerves are compressed by tight muscles, or by tight muscles compressing the skeletal structure which in turn compresses the nerves. Compression of nerves can lead to tingling, numbness, pain and lack of muscular control. Nerve conditions include sciatica, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Piriformis Syndrome.
Joint and Bone Conditions
These conditions are caused by habitually tight muscles and damaging movement and postural patterns putting constant stress and strain on the joints and bones. This chronic misuse can lead to pain, loss of range of motion, and sometimes structural damage such as tearing of connective tissues or wearing away of cartilage and bone. Joint and bone conditions include bulging and herniated discs, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, osteoarthritis and bursitis.
Postural deviations also fall into this category. Tight muscles in the core of the body pull the spine out of alignment, resulting in lordosis, kyphosis and scoliosis.
Scoliosis is a classic example of a functional disorder being mistaken for a structural disorder. While some cases of scoliosis are present at birth, or occur later in life as a result of conditions such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy, the majority of scoliosis cases are classified as idiopathic and are in fact functional in nature. Muscles along the sides of the spine become habitually tighter over time, pulling the spine into an increasing C-curve or S-curve. It is commonly believed that there is something wrong with the skeletal structure that can be corrected simply by a back brace or surgery. Neither of these approaches addresses the underlying cause of the spinal curve, which is the way that the nervous system is functioning. There are cases in which metal rods have been surgically inserted along a person’s spine in order to keep it straight, then months or years later the rods break – not because the metal is weak, but because the untreated muscle contraction is so strong that it breaks the rods.
Conditions Which Occur as a Result of Trauma
While these conditions describe a specific, acute trauma, damaging movement patterns and sensory-motor amnesia are often a precursor to injuries of this nature. Just as a chain will break at its weakest link, when a person is put into a stressful situation, the most compromised area of the body is the area that is most likely to get injured. Dislocations, fractures, sprains and strains are most likely to occur in parts of the body that are already being habitually misused. Somatics could in some cases prevent these types of injuries, and would also be an ideal method of recovery.
Conditions of Ambiguous Cause
Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) often seem ambiguous, both to the person with the condition and their doctor. Sensory-motor amnesia could be a large factor in these conditions, but there may be other nervous system issues contributing to these conditions as well. Somatics can in some cases eliminate these conditions completely.
People with these conditions, especially fibromyalgia, can be very sensitive to touch. An added benefit of using Somatics to work with these conditions is that the educator can simply teach the client the self care exercises, without having to touch the client at all.
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