|Bodywork and Exercise|
Massage, Chiropractic, Feldenkrais
have tried all of these. Each offered relief from pain.
Even as a child, my posture was less than ideal. But when my health was good and nothing hurt, it didn't seem important. With arthritis, this changed. With arthritis I tend to contract my muscles, causing additional pain and taking my spine out of alignment. Habits of poor posture got even worse as I modified posture to protect vulnerable joints. Physical and emotional stress led to more tight muscles.
There are many helpful treatments that relieve pain, release contracted muscles, correct postural defects, correct a misaligned spine and give a sense of physical well being. Yoga stretches will work out some of this, but it's good to have a professional help me let go of some of these contracted muscles.
Massage and Feldenkrais are both helpful for releasing tight, contracted muscles. It feels good at the moment and there is less stress on arthritic joints when the surrounding muscles are not stressed.
With massage, finding the right practitioner is as important as the technique. You want someone who has at least several years of experience, someone who has worked with other clients with arthritis, someone who is willing to be gentle. Try to get a personal recommendation.
Good places to find people to ask for recommendations: at the YMCA, at your doctor's office, at your health food store. At the health food store, the owners usually have more reliable information than their employees.
With Feldenkrais there are two ways to go. You can spend the session doing very gentle exercises or you can lie passively on a massage table and let the teacher do the exercises for you as she gently moves your body. You do very small movements that help your body relearn simple, easy movements that were lost or performed incorrectly over the years. You never force a movement. The movements are all very small and if you can't do it without straining, you learn a simpler and simpler version until there is absolutely no stress.
At the end of a typical session I feel as relaxed as after a massage. The advantage of Feldenkrais over a massage: you learn exercises that you can do on your own.
As a result of weakened back muscles and abnormal posture to protect my hands, my back goes out a lot. Chiropractic adjusts spinal subluxations. I get adjusted regularly. It does nothing for the arthritis, but I get relief from neck and back pain and it allows me to function in day to day activities. Some chiropractors are a little rough and not suitable for people with arthritis. Others are very skilled and very gentle. Ask everyone you know for recommendations, until you find the right one for you.
After surgery to replace the joints in my hand, my shoulder hurt all the time. All my surgeon had to offer was steroid injections. Then I found a good chiropractor. With regular adjustments and exercise, my shoulders are doing very well.
Relaxation and Healing Tapes and CDs (sponsor)