A (Rei)Ki to Effective Pain Management

I have a friend who I met at high school. We weren’t great friends then, but I knew her. When I started working at the casino, I met up with her again. For a while, she seemed to be more friends with my brother than me. She was always very relaxed, laid back and also on a different shift to me. We’d go out now and then but I don’t think it was a major relationship in either of our lives.

Now, we have both left the casino; and I have eagerly embraced her yoga-teaching, reiki-practising, kinda-hippy, relaxed friendship. She is a wonderful addition to my support network – she offers unrivalled understanding and support; she reads all the things that I send her about FM, my blog and my Facebook page (unlike most of my family); and she puts up with shopping trips with me (even though she HATES shopping!)

This friend, I have mentioned a number of times, is Thais. We keep talking about having regular yoga and reiki sessions, except that each time she comes over, we get distracted. I have no idea by what; I guess it’s just stuff that friends talk about.

But sometimes, and not often enough, she treats me with reiki. Reiki is a treatment in which healing energy is channelled from Thais to me, to enhance energy and reduce stress, pain, & fatigue. It is supposed to work by opening up a channel between healer and patient to transfer energy, and restore the body both physically and mentally.

By ‘laying on hands’ on specific parts of your body or even just positioning hands slightly above your body, a qualified Reiki practitioner can help bring relief to your chronic pain and make you feel better than you have in years. It is an ancient Japanese technique, also called ‘biofield’ therapy.

During a reiki session, muscles are relaxed, and energy flow is unblocked. This helps reduce physical tension and pain. Anxiety and stress also are reduced, helping to unblock and release emotional pain. Although you may not be completely pain-free, you feel relaxed, refreshed, and better able to cope with your condition.

A number of reiki clinical trials was recently reviewed by the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, which concluded that there was strong evidence that biofield therapies help reduce the intensity of pain in general.

No serious side effects or risks have been identified in the medical literature on reiki, and it is considered to be a very low-risk intervention. Since reiki is facilitated either with a very light touch or with no touch — slightly off the body — it provides a therapeutic option for those who are in pain or unable to be touched – that would be some of us.

Sounds too good to be true? I can only tell you about my experience. When Thais and I do finally get round to trying some out, I always feel deeply calm and relaxed (in fact, we want to try to reiki me to sleep one night and see if it helps with the quality of my sleep). I don’t know if this is just because Thais is a calming influence to be around at any time, or if she is actually channelling her energies into me.

Has any-one else had some experience with reiki? Perhaps with a practitioner that they did not know personally (for a less biased opinion)?

Shiatsu Saviour

Last night, Mommy surprised me by taking me for a shiatsu massage. Almost every day, we pass EastWest College, which is a school that delivers training for the professional practice of Therapeutic Massage, Shiatsu, Oriental and Complimentary therapies. Almost every day, we have said that we should go there. So last night, we did.

Shiatsu literally translates as ‘finger pressure’ and is a Japanese therapy originating in Oriental medical theory and traditional Japanese massage techniques.

Shiatsu therapists treat the whole body as well as specific problem areas by addressing both emotional and physical wellbeing. The aim is to treat the body by balancing the flow of Ki (life energy); applying pressure to obstructed or weak areas. This relieves symptoms and resolves conditions, improving the patient’s strength and vitality. The patient lies on a thin mattress on the floor, not a massage table which means the practitioner can use his/her body weight to increase pressure where it is needed, often synchronising the pressure with your breathing. Generally it is very relaxing and although some acupoints will be more tender than others.

Shiatsu is recognised as being suitable for treatment of most common conditions including musculoskeletal, menstrual, digestive and immune system disorders as well as being one of the most effective therapies for stress management and relaxation.

Currently, there is a randomized clinical trial being carried out by the University of Sao Paulo General Hospital, with the aim of verifying the efficacy of Shiatsu in the improvement of pain, flexibility, quality of sleep, anxiety and quality of life of individuals with FM. (This study is ongoing but no longer accepting participants.)

The EastWest College offers massage and reflexology as well as Shiatsu, so I know that I’ll be going back – in fact, I have already phoned and left a message.

The massage courses offered by EastWest College cover many of the different styles of massage such as Relaxation, Swedish, Sports, Remedial, Shiatsu and Lymphatic.  Particular emphasis is placed on the integration of Oriental and Western Massage, which allows graduates to acquire professional skills in Oriental tactile medicine in combination with the popular musculoskeletal therapy of Remedial and Therapeutic Massage.

I have talked about reflexology before as a healing art that uses acupressure and massage on the feet, hands or ears to promote relaxation, alleviate pain, treat illness, and stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself. Reflexology aims to help the body’s energy circulate effectively without blockages, stagnation or energy loss by manipulating reflex points in the feet, hands or ears. Unlike acupuncture, reflexology is non-invasive.

Not so excited about students working on you?

Firstly, it was fabulous – my masseuse/student explained everything that she was doing, made sure that I wasn’t hurting too much (I had told her about my FM); and, actually built up a sweat working and stretching out my tired and taut body. Maybe I was lucky but Mommy (with sciatica) was thrilled with her massage, too.

Next, it is totally supervised. This is not one of those 6 week courses that people do at the local college – these are nationally and internationally accredited courses over 12 -24 months. Does that make the thought more comforting to you?

And finally, it was $15 for an hour!!! (that’s introductory – normally $35) You really can’t beat that.

I know that this particular college is in Melbourne, Australia but perhaps you may now consider giving the opportunity to students, near you, to learn (and become aware of FM) while receiving the benefit of a great treatment!

 

 

A Reflex Action

You know that absolutely wonderful thing, that gorgeous men/women who love/lust after/appreciate a woman do, which makes us squirm, sigh, shriek and purr? The thing that we don’t really talk about yet still can’t get enough of? That thing that gives us such a guilty pleasure that we can’t even watch our beautiful partner perform the act?

Well, I had that same sort of guilty pleasure (although not nearly as pleasurable) today.

Mommy and I snuck away to get a massage from one of the Asian massage places that have popped up everywhere recently. Mommy had a sciatica massage and I decided to try some reflexology. WHAT? you say…it doesn’t even compare! Let me tell you that there are a myriad of similarities: latex (in this case, gloves), lubrication, pleasure and guilt, while trying to enjoy the entire process while a little Asian man (really! I am not being racist – it was an Asian man who was shorter than me!) massaged my feet. Comparable to the act I described earlier, I couldn’t actually watch the man performing the massage – it just felt wrong.

Reflexology is a wonderfully relaxing therapy that works on many levels, soothing, calming, balancing and boosting your entire body. Reflexology is based on the principle that certain parts of the body reflect the whole. Reflex points, which relate to all parts of the body, can be found in the feet, hands, face and ears. These points respond to pressure, stimulating the body’s own natural healing process. The body starts progressively clearing blockages, re-establishing energy flows and balancing itself, resulting in better health. There are many different styles and approaches used in reflexology, however the basic principle is constant. Subtle yet powerful, reflexology is becoming increasingly popular in the world of complementary therapies.

As a therapy, reflexology is not invasive – only the feet, and/or hands and ears are worked (we only did my feet). It is deeply relaxing yet surprisingly energizing – all part of its balancing capacity. You may feel you are being pampered during a reflexology session but do not underestimate the powerful effects this treatment can have on all of your body systems.

All body systems benefit from reflexology but you immediately notice the effect on your circulation, nervous and lymphatic systems in particular. My feet are tingling – and not the yucky FM pins and needles feeling, it’s my blood coursing through all the bits that feel like they normally get detoured.

Reflexology can address all of our particular needs: painful, congested, sluggish or overactive states within the body can be balanced and normalised. A Chinese survey of 8,096 case studies noted a 94% effective or significantly effective rate.

Stress and Anxiety

Lessening of stress and anxiety is demonstrated in twenty-nine reflexology studies with study participants including healthy individuals, senior citizens, women and cancer patients. The stimulation of reflexology’s pressure techniques creates change in the body’s basic level of tension as demonstrated by research showing that reflexology relaxes the body using a variety of measurements: brain waves (EEG), blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, and anxiety.

Lessening of Pain

Reduction of pain is a significant result of reflexology work. The lessening of pain in response to reflexology is documented in thirty-six studies including individuals of all ages and health states: birthing mothers, menstruating women, phantom limb pain sufferers, lower back pain sufferers, cancer patients, kidney stone patients, senior citizens and individuals with pain resulting from surgery. Such results find explanation is what researcher Dr Nancy Stephenson considers as an effect on the neuromatrix of the brain, an expansion of the Fate Control Theory of Pain. According to Wikipedia: Gate control theory asserts that activation of nerves which do not transmit pain signals, called nonnociceptive fibers, can interfere with signals from pain fibres, thereby inhibiting pain. Stimulating nerves that sense touch, heat, cold and pressure – as does reflexology – overcomes the action of the pain nerves. (YIPPEE!!!!)

Cancer Care

Twenty-four studies conducted by nurses in ten countries show that reflexology helps with each stage of the cancer experience: following chemotherapy, post-operatively, management of symptoms and during palliative/hospice care. Research demonstrates that cancer patients who receive reflexology work show significant improvements in physical and emotional symptoms: lessened pain, anxiety, depression and stress; reduced nausea and vomiting; lowered fatigue and improved quality of life.

Thousands of documented case studies from around the world have demonstrated benefits for:

  • PMT
  • Migraine
  • Sinus
  • Colic
  • Menopause
  • Constipation/Diarrhoea
  • Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Asthma
  • Stroke
  • Menstrual Irregularities

As my reflexology massage was not the ‘official’ kind, I had a half hour session. If you attend a ‘real’ session, it will usually last about an hour depending on your age and state of health. First sessions tend to be longer as the practitioner needs to take a case history prior to any treatment (Umm, we missed that bit, too!)

The exact number of sessions required depends upon several factors including the condition being addressed and the healing response of the individual. A minimum of 3-4 sessions are usually recommended, however chronic conditions may take longer to respond.

As blockages clear and the body reaches a state of balance, the sessions would be cut back to fortnightly, monthly or whenever the client feels the need. It is generally recommended that sessions should be at least a few days apart to allow the body time to adjust to the changes that are taking place as toxins released from congested systems are processed and eliminated.

So, maybe all I had was a foot and calf massage but it still feels amazing! Perhaps our partners have a new wonderful thing to do for us?

My Own (little) Awareness Day Campaign

The day started with a doctor’s appointment to get a new medical certificate for Centrelink (yes! I’m still on Sickness Allowance and not Disability). I remember my list of things to tell the doctor – and, FINALLY, I remembered to take my postcards.

I left 10 in the reception area.

The pharmacist is now Fibromyalgia Aware!

The off to the Chemist to fill my prescriptions. Guess what I  left there?

And then it was off to get acupuncture! (insert YIPPEE!) Being slightly early, and incredibly organised (for once), I stopped in at the printer next door and had some posters printed into A3 size.

Paul (the acupuncture dude) in reception with his postcards

Now back to get acupuncture, and feeling very pleased with myself. Paul, my acupuncturist, allowed me to leave some postcards in a prominent position.

My campaigning continued as I skipped merrily on my way home.

At the party suppies store...

At the Op shop

At the chiropractor's office...

So, now I am feeling incredible smug (and tired!) as I turn East Bentleigh PURPLE!

P.S. You may have noticed my badge on my profile picture. You can get one (I can’t work out how to make it a widget) HERE!