There are a number of conditions that can affect a woman’s health. For instance, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Syndrome are much more common in women than in men. These conditions can start a chain reaction leading to additional health issues, however, I believe that with patience, perseverance, and gentleness, their progressive nature can be reversed.

Here is an example of one composite experience --- You start off dealing with stress continuously; whether you have very high expectations of yourself, problems in your family life, or other long-term stress-causing situations. You hold your muscles tight all the time – they never can fully rest. Your constant stress has set you up for injury. Something happens – you move wrong doing normal things, have an accident, or cause other damage to your body. A muscle is injured, but you keep going, not taking time to soothe or treat the injury. Other muscles take up the slack and you keep going, soon forgetting the injury, and causing your body to become out of balance. Your other muscles are under more tension to compensate. More injuries. You start to hurt – just a little at first, then the pain becomes constant. You see a doctor for pain. Medication helps. Then it’s not enough. You get more injuries. You get more and stronger pain medication. The pain medication starts interfering with the clarity of your thinking. You hurt. You take more medication. You keep getting more pain. Life isn’t yours any more. You live in a fog. You get depressed. Antidepressants. You live in a bottle. You can no longer do your job. You become dependent on others to care for you, but you don’t care because you hurt so much; and you can’t face life without your medications – you’re addicted.

Although this paints a pretty awful picture, it happens far too often. The pain is REAL, the depression is REAL and REASONABLE, and it is a downward spiral that will continue unless you start to make some changes.

Reversing the direction is clearly not going to be easy or quick; it took too long to get here and there are too many pieces to work on.

To begin, you need to set goals:
1) rid yourself of the addiction to pain killers
2) deal with your depression
3) work to eliminate stress triggers
4) eliminate the pain

This process will not be accomplished overnight, and you cannot attempt these goals all at once. You will likely need the medications to deal with the pain and depression NOW. Dealing with the stress will not be beneficial at this point because your thinking is foggy. To get closer to dealing with stress and the condition as a whole, patients might consider the benefits of massage.

The right kind of massage can help reduce the pain, but the wrong kind can make it MUCH worse. How can you determine what is the right kind of massage for you? In this case, the massage will eventually have to get very deep to clear the old injured areas in your muscles. Although deep, this massage has to be extremely gentle to be beneficial as well as tolerable. Many old injured areas have turned into “Trigger Points”, and these can cause pain to appear far from the injured area, frequently in joints or bony areas. Massaging where the pain appears often does nothing and your therapist must be able to find and gently clear the Trigger Points. While ultimately beneficial, this is a slow process and requires patience. At no point should massage be painful – this would demonstrate that additional injury is being caused – inform your therapist as soon as this happens for them to correct.

Doing normal deep tissue massage is contraindicated when clients are on heavy dosages of pain medication, since the client is unable to give accurate feedback to the therapist and the therapist can easily over-treat, causing injury and creating more Trigger Points that need to be cleared. Initial visits must be extremely gentle, though progress will still occur. At this stage, the goal is to gradually reduce pain medication and have frequent massages (up to 2 per week). Massage is not enough, so find a physician who will help with this type of plan. Do NOT go “Cold Turkey” on your medications – the pain and withdrawal will likely cause a major set-back.

Next, as your thinking clears, find a good therapist to help modify your behaviors and/or thought patterns that created your stress. Continue with massage and the reduction of pain killers, as appropriate for your pain level. Since some will need to deal with withdrawal now, switch to less-addictive pain medication, all with your physician’s assistance. These are your first steps toward healing.