PAIN MANAGEMENT AND INJURY REHABILITATION
A naturopathic approach to pain considers all aspects of our health that it impacts. Pain is multifaceted in that it takes a toll on energy, sleep, mood, and sometimes appetite as well. In turn, when these aspects of our health suffer it also inhibits our ability to heal. It is important to create a plan that considers all of these contributors to our healing, while also working toward minimizing the physical experience of pain.
In response to a physical injury, damaged tissues send out chemical signals that stimulate increased blood flow, and an influx of immune cells in order to start to repair itself. The immune cells function to clean up debris, as well as repair and regenerate injured tissue. The level of immune response is proportionate to the level of damage caused. Initially, we experience pain as the tissues swell and endogenous chemicals that are sent in to the area irritate the nerves. Eventually, the body starts to repair the damage by laying down new collagen in the form of scar tissue. The process of repair continues, and over time, the weaker scar tissue is replaced by healthy, strong tissue. Certain tissues are better equipped to heal themselves than others, due to the amount of blood perfusion in that type of tissue. Connective tissue, for example, is poorly perfused is therefore benefits from specific interventions that facilitate the healing process.
Whether the cause of pain is due to a new injury, or an old chronic one, we always need to consider what stage of healing the tissue is currently in. Often connective tissue injuries get held up in the stage of healing where scar tissue dominates. Scar tissue contains disorganized collagen fibers, that are not as strong, and therefore, is more susceptible to reinjury. In this case, we want to stimulate more irritation and inflammation in the tissues in order to bring in more immune cells to continue the healing process. In this way we can help the body progress to another level of healing. In other circumstances, if muscles are seizing in attempt to create some stability, we will work to help relax the muscle and help realign tissue fibers, to ease tension on the nerves. We can intervene at different stages, using a variety of substances at our disposal that can be injected right into the tissues involved to create the desired response.
Trigger point therapy is an injection therapy that helps to give some immediate relief, if you are experiencing stubborn muscle pain. It is an injection technique that uses a solution of analgesic diluted with saline or dextrose injected right into the muscle tissues that are causing pain, in order to reduce local inflammation and temporarily numb the pain. This realigns muscle fibers and improves tone, allowing for improved muscle function and optimal healing. The effects of the injections are both immediate as well as lasting, depending on the origin of the issue. The frequency and number of treatments needed is dependent on the original cause of the injury or pain as well as what lifestyle habits may be inhibiting proper healing or resolution of discomfort. Some common conditions that are well addressed with trigger point injections include tension headaches, and neck or back pain. This pain may be caused by structural imbalances, poor posture, whiplash injuries, or overuse injuries.
Another option for easing muscle tension is therapeutic botox. It helps weaken contractions of overactive muscle tissue that is causing chronic or persistent tension and pain. When other interventions seem to only help temporarily, neuromodulators (aka botox) help to achieve a more powerful effect on the muscle tissue involved. The most common uses for therapeutic botox include teeth grinding and TMJ leading to jaw pain, headaches, and stubborn back pain.