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Entries in chronic pain (2)

Thursday
Mar072013

Poultices

Poultices, herbal preparations on hot towels placed over the skin, are another way to get herbs into one's body and to target specific tissues. Studies have shown better absorption of herbs and medications through the skin that when taken orally, and often with fewer side effects. How to use a poultice? According to Jethro Kloss in "Back to Eden":

Do not warm over a poultice once used. Do not allow a poultice to become cold. Have a second poultice ready immediately upon removing the first one.

To make the following poultices it is best to have the herbs in a ground or granulated form. When using the herbs in powdered form, mix with just enough water to make a thick paste. When using them granulated, mix with water, cornmeal or flaxseed meal to make a thick paste. If fresh green leaves are used, beat them up, steep, and apply to the affected parts.

Poultices are most excellent for enlarged glands of any kind, such as neck, breast, groin, prostate, etc. Also for eruptions, boils, carbuncles, and abscesses. An excellent thing to do where any poultices are to be used is to bathe the affected part thoroughly with mugwort tea first. If you do not have this, cleanse it with hydrogen of peroxide before applying the poultice. It must be remembered that many herbs are used for poultices, so study the herbs and use those best suited to the condition, or those recommended for that condition.

Sunday
Jun172012

Tissue Talk: neurology of chronic pain

An item I share in my Bladder & Pelvic Floor Health for Practitioners class from Haslam & Laycock's "Therapeutic Management of Incontinence and Pelvic Pain", 2nd edition:

When pain persists, even after healing has taken place [from a trauma], the nerve cell membranes undergo a change in conformation, establishing new receptor sites and the formation of new neural pathways that become embedded into the central nervous system. Once established, the chronic pain pathways are difficult to eradicate. Chronic pain no longer serves a useful purpose, but leads to physical, behavioral, and psychological changes that combine to produce the pain experience.

There are a couple very practical implications here. Firstly, chronic pain causes very real physical changes, even when the physical cause can no longer be detected. Secondly, the longer someone waits to get treatment for pain, the more established will be those physical changes and the more treatments they will require to try to reverse the pathology.

I have had patients who have become frustrated with western medical practitioners who told them that the pain "is in your head". It's an unfortunate (and rather dismissive) way to language it, but sometimes this is to what they refer. The physical cause has resolved; the pain now lives in their neurology. Chronic pain requires both physical modalities and CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) in order to be addressed completely. It will not be resolved by medications or surgery.