Pain is a common part of the human experience. We all go through varying degrees of pain throughout our lives, whether it is acute, chronic, traumatic, or severe.
Pain is a useful tool, telling you when something is dangerous to your body, or has gone wrong in it. It is easy to understand what your body is telling you when you touch something hot, but what should you do when you feel pain but don’t know why?
The trick to pain management is not simply making the pain go away or masking it with pain medications. It is important to figure out what the pain is trying to tell you. Only then can you develop a care plan that heals the cause of your pain.
How Do These Therapies Work?
Chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage therapy all share a similar approach to pain treatment. They emphasize that acute, chronic, and neuropathic pain can often be treated without resorting to surgery or addictive medications. While each type of therapy has its unique benefits, using two or more in tandem can enhance their ability to heal and relieve pain.
Chiropractic Care Impacts More than Just Your Spine
Chiropractic therapy is based on the knowledge that your body is not made of individual, isolated parts. Rather, your skeleton, muscles, and nervous system are all radically interconnected. While over a third of patients who seek chiropractic care are looking for relief from back pain, chiropractors treat a myriad of problems. Car accidents, muscle strains, sports injuries, various joint and muscle pains, headaches, and a limited range of motion are all important reasons to seek chiropractic care.
Chiropractors most often use hands-on spinal manipulation, paired with other alternative treatments or strengthening regimens to bring your body’s musculoskeletal system back into proper alignment. Correct alignment allows for the proper transmission of nerve pulses through the body. If your vertebrae are out of alignment due to injury, muscle tension, or emotional stress, this can negatively impact a whole host of bone, joint, muscle, and nervous system functions, which eventually leads to pain. Spinal manipulation brings your spine back into proper alignment, often decompressing affected nerves which allows your nervous system to function optimally.
At Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Hazen uses the Cox Technique, a method that combines spinal manipulation with decompression techniques. It is a gentle, non-force chiropractic approach used by 67.3% of chiropractic physicians. This combination of chiropractic and osteopathic techniques is extremely effective for non-surgical pain relief, especially in cases of disc herniation and stenosis. The Cox Technique is unique in that it is effective for both complex and less complex conditions. The spinal and extremity adjustments are geared to your body and needs for maximum pain relief.
The goal of any quality chiropractor is to eventually reduce the frequency of your appointments. Due to this, chiropractors will coach you on proper posture to help keep your body in alignment and will often give you an at-home muscle strengthening regimen. Strengthening the muscles around the properly aligned bones will help keep those bones in place, allowing for decreased reoccurrence of pain. Not only that, strengthening and stretching often means less tension in the muscles, which will ultimately lead to fewer musculoskeletal issues.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is used to increase your blood flow, stimulate the various systems in your body, and release pain and tension. It is an ideal therapy for addressing chronic pain, as well as soothing overworked, tight, or tense muscles. The loosening of the muscles, skin, ligaments, and tendons can help improve range of motion and flexibility. Massage is also known to help your body release toxins and reduce the production of stress hormones. The reduction of stress hormones, combined with the releasing of tension in your tight muscles, helps accelerate the healing process while you are suffering from an injury.
Massage functions based on two principles: the relaxation response and the mechanical response. The relaxation response is an involuntary physiological change in your body that happens upon the application of massage or any safe physical touch. You might recognize this response as a physical slowing of breath and heart rate, relaxation of muscle tension, and increase in positive thoughts and emotions due to the available level of serotonin rising.
Physiologically, your blood pressure is reduced and there is a decrease in the production of stress hormones. The mechanical response to massage is the sum of physical effects occurring in your body when pressure is applied to tissue. Together, the relaxation and mechanical responses make massage a therapy that can remedy physical, emotional, and psychological issues. The team at Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine includes massage therapist Sally Najou, CMT and Lorrie Chelfini, CMT who specialize in Swedish massage, deep massage, sports massage, and trigger point massage. These various therapies can be an excellent addition to your specific treatment plan.
How is Acupuncture Effective?
Based on principles of Chinese medicine that are thousands of years old, acupuncture aims to decrease the intensity of pain signals which the nervous system is sending to the brain. Through the loosening of muscles, acupuncture treatments can also improve blood flow which carries oxygen to the muscle tissues, reducing recovery or healing times. Acupuncture uses needles with a tiny diameter average of 0.00325 inches, roughly the diameter of a human hair. These needles vary in length from .5 inch to 1.5 inches. They are generally made of stainless steel, so they do not rust and are very difficult to break. These tiny needles are carefully inserted into your body during an acupuncture session. Acupuncture needles are not meant to be painful, and many patients report not being able to feel them at all once they are placed. However, some patients report a tingling or a deep ache in and around the location of the needle for the duration of the treatment. If the insertion of a needle causes pain, it may have been inserted incorrectly. A quick adjustment from your practitioner will remedy that.
When the needles enter into your body, they cause your nervous system to signal the brain to release pain-relieving, healing chemicals to your brain, spinal cord, and muscles. In essence, acupuncture encourages a healthy flow of energy and communication through your body’s central nervous system. The result is better management of your pain and ailments.
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat digestive, musculoskeletal, and respiratory conditions, emotional symptoms and disorders, eye-ear-nose-throat conditions, gynecological and fertility problems, neurological issues, and sub-clinical level symptoms. Dr. Monica Sarrat practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine at TCIM. Due to her background in nursing, she is able to find the perfect blend of Eastern and Western medical modalities to create a care plan that fits your needs.
How Do These Therapies Work Together?
As you can see, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage therapy treat a wide range of conditions while having a broad swath of overlap. They all function on the principle that tension, misalignment and communication blockages prevent your body from naturally healing itself. By relieving the tension, correcting the alignment, and clearing the blockage from your neural network, your body is able to communicate and respond properly, helping you to heal yourself. Yet, these therapies are different in the scope or focus of their practice. Massage focuses on muscles, chiropractic focuses on the skeleton, and acupuncture focuses on energy flow through neural pathways. Due to the body’s complexity, interconnection, and the many levels on which it stores pain, the beneficial effects of chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy are heightened when used in combination.
Chiropractic is enhanced when used in conjunction with acupuncture or massage because your vertebrae are more likely to stay in alignment when your body is relaxed. Tight or spasmodic muscles are more likely to push your bones back into the misaligned configuration your body is used to. Acupuncture and massage have greater impact when paired with chiropractic because these two approaches cannot adequately treat pain stemming from a spinal misalignment.
This is not to say that each treatment is ineffective on its own. Rather, when the three approaches are used in conjunction, your body is treated on a more holistic level. Each therapy uses the benefits of the others to enhance and sustain the treatment and healing that it provides. When properly combined, chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapies can correct imbalances, heighten your body’s natural ability to heal itself, boost energy, increase your range of motion, and restore your body to a healthy, better functioning state.
Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine specializes in every aspect of functional medicine. This means that we have designed our clinic to be a place where practitioners believe that it is imperative to treat the whole self-mind, body, and spirit. At TCIM, you can receive holistic care that includes many different modalities, all in one place. Each of your practitioners will listen and partner with you, while also communicating and partnering with each other. We believe that this is the most compassionate, forward-thinking, and patient-centered way to be sure you are moving toward wellness.
Dr. Lundquist is Board Certified in Family Medicine with ABFM and he is sub-specialized with the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABoIM). He has also has received a certification from the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine (ABIHM).
Dr. Lundquist has a special interest in Integrative and Holistic medicine. He is currently the founder and medical director for the Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine specializing in all aspects of Functional Medicine. He is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association as well as the Institute of Functional Medicine. He specializes in endocrine disorders especially thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, chronic fatigue, migraine headaches, cardio metabolic disorders, and chronic pain.