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Alternative therapies gain ground in managing pain

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 2:44 p.m. CDT

It’s in your lower back. It creeps into your neck. Perhaps it has settled in your knees, your shoulder or your wrist. Chronic pain from stress or injury can affect nearly every part of the body, and its presence can disrupt sleep, leave you irritable and unable to focus.

The market for pharmaceutical pain relievers is enormous, and over-the-counter options fill the shelves at grocers and drug stores. But alternative options are growing in popularity, as many people seek a medication-free alternative to alleviate their pain.

The chiropractic services offered at Main Street Chiropractic in Downers Grove focus on the three phases of healing: inflammation, repair and remodel.  The timeline of these phases depends on each individual, owner Mike DeCubellis said.

“(Repair) is where we have to get the ranges of motion back to normal or as close to normal as possible,” DeCubellis said, adding that repair is also the most important step because if the range of motion isn’t achieved and the area is re-injured, it leads to less and less range of motion and becomes a chronic injury.

Following an injury, it is important to seek care as soon as possible. DeCubellis said the earlier he can begin treating a patient, the better the results. Patients generally come into Main Street Chiropractic with neck or back pain, but DeCubellis said he also sees patients with chronic pain that nothing has alleviated. He does his best to take a detailed history, perform an evaluation and pinpoint and target pain for relief.

“The goal of everything is we want to work with the patient to get them feeling their best,” said DeCubellis.

At Focus Yoga in Brookfield, students from beginners to advanced can benefit from targeted muscular stretched, many of which alleviate pain, owner Judi Harvin said.

 “A good yoga class is going to address all the different muscle groups,” Harvin said. “A lot of other forms of fitness, the movements are very repetitive. Yoga addresses full range of motion, strengthening and loosening tension.”

Yoga focuses on moving the spine and joints in all different directions to keep them lubricated and therefore prevent pain. Harvin said the studio has students who have had hip replacements and fused spines that come for the pain relief through movement.

At the beginning of every yoga class, instructors at Focus Yoga ask the students what is going on with their bodies, which areas are tight, which areas are sore, and then focus on those areas during the class. That is especially helped for people with chronic issues.

Harvin said she also gives her students “homework,” by offering them movements they can use at home to address their problem spots.

In addition to movement, yoga also focuses on breathing techniques, which can also be used for pain. “The number one thing we do in yoga is we offer breathing techniques,” Harvin said. “Breath is the fastest link to the nervous system and how we feel. Most of the time, we’re soothing the nervous systems.”

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