Tag Archives: pain

Catastrophizing: Why is it ALWAYS so bad?

Last week on @LoveinActionTV on the Periscope app my sister and I talked about PTSD.  Closely linked to PTSD is catastrophizing.  These two are similar to the chicken and egg theory.  Many catastrophizers experience PTSD and many people with PTSD are catastrophizers.  So what is catastrophizing anyway?

Catastrophizing is thinking something is much worse than it actually is.  Guilty as charged.  We all do it but some people get stuck in a catastrophic wheel unable to pull the breaks, stop, and get off, which tailspins catching a multitude of other problems along the way such as:

  • Poor interpersonal relationships
  • Missed opportunities and underachievement
  • Hopelessness
  • Irrational thought patterns
  • Constant pity parties and disappointment
  • Chronic or uncontrollable pain
  • Anxiety, depression, negative mood
  • Illness
  • Suicidal ideation

I see this situation all the time in my practice as a physical therapist.  When treating acute or chronic pain, the person’s outlook on their ability to improve, heal, and move on speaks more to their prognosis than the actual diagnosis.  Those who constantly think about the situation, depend on others to give them answers, and allow one injury to segue to multiple tend to have poor outcomes no matter how simple the medical and PT diagnosis may be.

These problems can be classified into three major categories, which identifies those exhibiting catastrophizing behaviors about a situation or the future:

  • Magnification: Having fear that a situation will worsen
  • Rumination: Unable to stop thinking about the situation
  • Helplessness: The feeling that you have no power to change or improve the situation

Simple techniques get out of catastrophizing:

  • You become aware that you’re doing it!
  • Fake it. Visualize the best possible outcome and begin to act, talk, and be the reflection of greatness.
  • Take charge. Be an advocate for yourself, empower yourself as your ultimate healer.
  • Draw a line between catastrophe and something very unfortunate that you can deal with.
  • Meditate, breathe, and pray. This will increase your ability to cope with negative situations.

References

Boyls A.  What is Catastrophizing?-Cognitive Distortions  www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201301/what-is-catastrophizing-cognitive-distortions

Grohol JM.  What is Catastrophizing?  https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-catastrophizing/

Quartana PJ, Claudia MC, Edwards, RR.  Pain catastrophizing:  a critical review.  Expert Rev Neurother.  2009 May; 9(5): 745-758. Doi:10.1586/ERN.09.34

**Catch Teaching & Talking with the Twins every Friday night on the Periscope app @LoveinActionTV!**

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5 Things Everyone Can Do NOW To Be Happy and Healthy

5 Things EVERYONE…despite disease, disability, and pain…can safely do NOW to create a happier, healthier life.  No need to wait until after Christmas or the New Year.  Let’s make some positive changes!

  • Eat healthy
  • Bike or swim
  • Yoga and breath practice
  • Meditate and pray
  • Create and help others

Eat healthy:  Many of you will skip this explanation because you’ve heard in a thousand times.  I hate to beat a dead horse but seriously…eat the produce aisle.

Bike or swim:  I don’t care what physical deficits or injury you may have.  One of these two will work.  In severe cases (those with para or quadriplegia or wheelchair bound) assistance may be required and the pool may be the only option.  The benefits of elevating the heartrate are phenomenal for hormonal balance, happiness, heart and lung health, and a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Yoga and breath practice:  If yoga is too difficult, begin with breath practice.  If you are conscious and breathing, you can perform breath practice.  Research beginners breath practice, slow steady breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, or breath awareness practices.  Breath practice is a standalone practice or a great addition to a yoga practice.

Meditate and pray:  Again, if you are conscious and breathing, you can meditate and pray.  Incorporate this into your daily life.  A little bit of research on the internet or iTunes will get you plenty of free resources to use.

Create and help othersThis is the most important of the five. We must perform work to complete our human task.  It’s essential to health and wellness.  Holding a formal job is not necessary.  Each week commit a minimum of 1-2 days focusing on giving back.  Giving back creates an environment of enablement as oppose to the tangled forest of a disablement, disease, and dysfunction.  Your work can be in the form of a blogging, letter writing, and any kind of art creations to give away or sell, volunteering anywhere, or making phone calls to relatives that need social interaction.

Your schedule may look something like this:

Monday:  Bike or swim 10-20 minutes.  Eat Healthy

Tuesday:  Create for others (your work), meditate.  Eat Healthy

Wednesday:  Bike or swim 10-20 minutes

Thursday:  Meditate or breath practice.  Eat Healthy

Friday:  Yoga, create for others.  Eat Healthy

Saturday:  Have fun

Sunday:  Have fun

Mindful Genetic Control

genes-blog-pic

Bruce Lipton is a stem cell biologist and author of The Biology of Belief.  Through his research and publications, he explains the power our thoughts have to control our genetic expression.  This means we are not a victim to our genetic inheritance, we actually have the ability to control it through our perception.  I heard an interview with Bruce on the radio and was immediately intrigued because I’ve never heard the science, and specifically the cell biology behind the energy and power in our thoughts.  As a practitioner in the medical field with a strong interest in metaphysics, it was relieving to hear a scientifically sound explanation supporting the power of belief! I wanted to share some his key points taken from his blog.  All of Bruce Lipton’s blogs can be found at https://www.brucelipton.com/blog.

Our assumption that DNA controls cellular function has been proven untrue.  The truth, he proposes, is that DNA function and expression is reactive and controlled by the cellular environment.  He relates this to an experiment he did with stem cells.  He cloned a single stem cell and ended with many cells genetically the same.  He divided the cells into three petri dishes with three varying mediums or environments.  The cells became either muscle, fat, or bone based on the environment, not based on their genetics because, as he said, the cells were genetically identical.

Whaatt??!!

The cell’s perception of the environment opens protein-gated channels in the membrane that then cause our DNA to turn genes on or off.  So really it’s all about perception.  Perception is influenced by the level of stress.  Our genetic expression is written and rewritten based on perception causing a biological reaction to the environment.  Keep in mind that a perception is not always true.  Biological reactions come in two forms:  growth and protection.  If the environment is perceived as nutritional, growth genes are activated, if it is perceived as harmful, protection genes are activated.    When growth is activated, our immune system is fully functional, and we are ready to heal and grow; however, when protection is activated energy conservation is kicked in by supressing the immune system and shunting blood away from vital organs into the extremities, this is “fight or flight.”  The cellular goal of fight or flight is to utilize the least amount of energy to reflexively keep the body alive…no time for healing, no time for cognizant thought or memory…just survive.  Survival does not allude to any type of replenishment, pleasure, or enjoyment.  With blood being shunted away from our vital organs and the immune system supressed, it is clear how this creates an opportunistic breeding ground for disease and cancer.

Davidji, meditation guru and Hay House author, reminds us that the breath initiates the fight or flight response.  Rapid breathing sets off this autonomic response but slow steady breathing has the power to reverse it.  How easy!  A couple of slow deep breaths amidst a stressful situation will help to keep our blood chemistry primed for growth, health, and love.

Bruce Lipton also speaks to the power of quantum physics where the focus is on the unmanifest, or in other words, energy.  Energy is the only true primal essence.  Energy is the building block of the manifest.  Quantumbiology is a new science attempting to harness the energetic power held in our consciousness.  Thoughts (energy) control blood chemistry, which affects DNA expression.  Love produces a blood chemistry conducive to growth and fear a chemistry conducive to death.

Headaches

Headaches have many causes which may stem from the neck, shoulder, TMJ, mid back, ear, sinuses, cervical (neck) ligament laxity, vestibular (inner ear) disturbances, dizziness, muscle tension, lack of sleep, anxiety, postural pain syndrome, high blood pressure, head trauma, seizures, strokes, and poor nutrition…to name a few thousand.  From the preceding list it’s very obvious why Tylenol and Ibuprofen have a thriving market!  What is the simplest cure to decreased headache pain and frequency?  Once traditional routes to a cure are exhausted, consider the role of the following:

Poor nutrition and/or allergic responses

Nutritional deficits and maladies are the root of all illness.  Nutritional imbalance fires up the systemic inflammatory response, which often spirals to chronic illness when uncorrected.  Chronic inflammation, or as I like to think of it an over worked immune system, sets the stage for almost every disease process.  SO to be short and sweet, nutritional deficiency or imbalance could be the fix to MANY of the previously stated culprits leading to headaches and migraines.  How do you fix nutrition?  Start in the produce aisle. For more details see also my nutrition blogs below.

Examine your household and body care products as well.  Many people have an allergic response to their most favorite scents and products.  Examine fabric softener, detergent, hairspray, perfume, body wash, shampoo, soap, toothpaste…OH MY!  Go for products that are “free and clear” or safe to use on infants and children as these contain fewer preservatives and allergens.  Don’t forget that you absorb everything that touches your skin.

Ligament laxity

If the ligaments of the upper neck are over stretched or loose for any reason, this could cause chronic migraines or headaches.  Diseases such as lupus, RA, fibromyalgia, any connective tissue disorder, MS, and multiple other neurological processes as well as trauma can cause this laxity or looseness to occur.  A surgical procedure may be an option but many times the only cure is gentle cervical strengthening.

Vestibular disturbances/dizziness

Dizziness has many causes as well which may or may not be related to the vestibular system (inner ear), and is often related to neck pain or dysfunction.  There are specific vestibular exercises a skilled physical therapist can address to reduce headaches.  See also nutrition as nutrition serves the viability of the vestibular system.

History of head trauma

Headaches are also related to traumatic events such as a car wrecks, falls, gunshot wounds, stab wounds, scarring from burns, or concussions (this is not an exhausted list).  Many times addressing neck, shoulder, mid-back, and TMJ issues act to resolve tension-type headaches.  Those headaches more neural in nature such as migraines may be better addressed with diet or specialized surgical procedures (orthopedic or neurological).

TMJ

Tension in the jaw is created often by stress, anxiety, and worry.  Meditation, breath practice, and emotional release help to alleviate anxiety and worry that create stress and tension.  Also simply cueing yourself to “relax my jaw” throughout the day and right before drifting to sleep may help.  Mouth guards are also useful but not the cure.  The aforementioned spiritual practices have been shown to be very effective in releasing the jaw to reduce headaches.  There are situations that warrant specialized dental or oral surgery to correct TMJ issues, which may also alleviate or eliminate headache pain and frequency.

Neck and shoulder

Neck and shoulder pain create muscle tension.  Many of the neck and shoulder muscles attach directly to the skull so it should be no surprise that tension here can create headache pain.  Limited shoulder mobility and pain often creates neck disturbances as well see my neck and shoulder blogs below for more information.

Role of breath practice, postural change, sleep, and meditation

Breath practice works to replenish the brain and body with life sustaining, and repairing oxygen.  Oxygen’s life force is healing and promotes optimal muscular and neurological firing, which will ease the pain associated with headaches.

When we sit or work in a prolonged posture or position blood is shunted in a specific direction often crippling adequate flow to the head and neck.  Practicing postural change for even a few seconds every 15 minutes will produce a more oxygen rich environment within the head and body.  Postural pain and prolonged positions have also recently been associated with depression.

Meditation is directly correlated with improved sleep patterns.  It aides in more restful sleep allowing our bodies to enter healing, repair, and regeneration mode (see also my meditation and sleep blogs below).   Without sleep our bodies are never allotted the time to heal.  Without sleep chronic pain, disease, and illness is almost inevitable.

Links:

Meditation Blogs:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/05/05/the-secret/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/03/10/what-is-destressifying/

Sleep Blog:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/04/01/stop-fighting-your-sleep/

Neck and Shoulder Blog:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/06/04/neck-and-shoulder-pain/

Postural Pain Blog:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2015/05/12/postural-pain/

Nutrition Blogs:  https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/04/21/a-dose-of-medical-medium/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/02/18/offensive-health/, https://alternativeptfortworth.com/2016/02/06/on-the-radio-the-earth-diet/

I will be discussing the roles of meditation relating to spirituality and how to start a meditation program in an upcoming mentoring program called Spirit and spirits.  Please visit https://alternativeptfortworth.com/spirits-and-spirit/ for more information!

Knee Pain: Look Above and Below

“My knees never bother me”—said no one ever. Everyone has experienced either a complex knee injury or a simple tweak that is now haunting. “Oh great, my knee doesn’t hurt anymore”…<perform max squat clean>…”Never mind.” Here’s another scenario—”I’ve never had knee pain”…<gain 10 pounds>…”Why do my knees hurt all the time?!” The knees and low back are the middle ground, Switzerland, neutral territory. With neutrality comes comprise. Our knees and back compromise when the feet, hips, and upper body battle.

Look above and look below. What does this mean? It’s important to look at the joint or structure above the knee pain and below it to fully treat the problem manifesting in the knee.

In the foot, we’re looking for over-pronation (flat feet, knock knees) or under-pronation (rigid feet, bow legged). A simple correction to a neutral foot position may remedy knee pain. This may mean changing shoe type, getting new shoes, or getting a running/walking shoe evaluation (done at many running stores on a treadmill for free).

In the hip, we are looking for a neutral pelvis, leg length, muscular weakness (typically the gluteals in adults), and muscular tightness (quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, piriformis), which may be affecting knee position and function. Correcting leg length in athletes may greatly reduce knee and back pain.

Here’re a couple of tips to deal with knee pain:

1)  Stretch—seriously, at least 1-2 times a week spend some quality time stretching. Stretches specific to the knee include: hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus, piriformis, gastrocnemius, and soleus.

2)  Joint mobilization—Try a gentle knee mobilization with a towel roll hold 30 sec to 2 minutes and repeat as feels comfortable.

3)  Strengthen—Target the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings.

4)  Good shoes—don’t wait until the tread wears off or until your pinky toe is sticking out to get new shoes. Generally, for those exercising daily, this means zapatos nuevos every 6 months.

5)  Correcting leg length—this may be as simple as adding an insert or heel lift in the shoe of the short leg. For significant discrepancies (greater than 1cm) the use of a shoe cobbler may be beneficial to build the shoe up from the outside.  Many times shoes can be altered (even cute sandals) with no apparent, aesthetic, difference.

heel lift

6)  Knee sleeves—I know I know…I hate to rely on supportive devices but my left knee has converted me. For those of us squatting (especially below parallel), lunging, and lifting regularly, a knee sleeve can alleviate pain during these tasks. DO NOT wear the sleeve 24/7 unless recommended to do so by a PT or physician.

knee sleeves

7)  Allow time to heal—for a solid 10 WHOLE days after the initial injury, avoid movements that exacerbate the pain. In this time, you are stretching, strengthening, and mobilizing pain limited or pain-free. You may implement knee sleeves if returning to the activity continues to cause some pain.

8)  Maintain a healthy weight—fast every now and then. From my observation, the leading cause of knee pain is carrying around too much weight. The quantity of food I can consume in one sitting has changed drastically since fasting (I’m a small lady but I can eat!). Over one year, I worked my way up to tolerating a liquid only fast for 24 hours about once a week. If I have a crazy hard workout planned on a fasting day, I definitely throw some protein powder in the mix. I also allow myself to fail if it’s getting too hard and I need dinner—I just pick it back up again next week. This practice and regular exercise keep me in check.

**all of these recommendations are in the absence of a severe injury that requires medical attention such as a fracture, or ligamentous tear. You’ll know its severe if the pain intensity stays the same and function continues to be inhibited or impossible.

A Life of Discomfort: Our Human Situation

There is a time for being uncomfortable. It’s the uncomfortable moments that make you grow, change for the good, learn to accept, learn to cope, and learn to take care of yourself and others. It’s being uncomfortable in the uncomfortable that creates problems. Creating comfort in the presence of the opposite can be nurturing. As my Crossfit coach says “get comfortable in the uncomfortable!” In my physical therapy practice, I find that those who cannot tolerate dis-ease or discomfort have the strongest manifestations of their problems. This intolerance often leads to unhealthy habits, thought patterns, and addictions. In the presence of happiness, there is sadness. Likewise, in the presence of healing, there is destruction. Muscular micro tears is what ultimately makes the muscle stronger, friction and heat can stimulate an injured tendon to heal, breaking scar tissue improves flexibility and range of motion.

This world is not perfect, and this life flawed. We cannot allow ourselves to mask our human situation. No one wants to exercise every day, no one wants to push themselves to a place of discomfort. The only things our human selves want is have fun and feel good—but our soul is here to work. Our soul is here to accomplish something that cannot be accomplished in a perfect realm. Recall Jesus’ walk—not easy or comfortable. We must remind our human selves that drugs, alcohol, pills, and potions are not the answer—they simply mask the world. This mask covers our life’s purpose and inhibits our ability to accomplish the tasks God intended.

Being the broken record that I am, a steady payer and/or meditation practice can help ease fear and anxiety. It will also help reconnect you to your life purpose and God. Daily exercise releases our body’s natural feel-good hormones (which drugs try to mimic). Remember that your body is not going to volunteer to work hard but the soul will sacrifice pleasure for your well being and health. Listen to your soul—get up, move, and create. The next time you are trying to make a change, such as starting a new exercise program, initiating healthy eating, recovering from a surgery, or improving your mood, remember that change requires a shift in your standards of relative normalcy. A shift in normalcy creates some discomfort, but hang in there, an epiphany (mental or physical) is on the way! In honor of the forth of July, I am encouraging you to have the mind of a solider–step out of your comfort zone, sacrifice destructive, self-pleasing activities, and fight for the good within and around yourself.