Manual Therapy/Incorporating Touch into Treatment
(Workbook Page 21)
Incorporating touch into pain care is a critical aspect of changing persistent pain and restoring the person. Treatment utilizing touch comes in countless forms. It runs the gamut from working just off the body to deep fascial manipulation to high-velocity techniques to realign the skeleton. Whatever the technique, creating change in the skin and subcutaneous tissues creates change in the spinal cord and brain.
Touch is used clinically in many ways to interact with patients. People are touched when practitioners establish connections initially with simple eye contact, a smile, a greeting or a handshake. Physical examination requires palpation to evaluate structures and identify areas of dysfunction. The practitioner senses the quality of the tissue beneath their hands and begins to see with their hands. The skin can be warm or cold, moist or dry. It can be tense with edema or loose and without tone. The patient senses the quality and depth of the practitioners hand. They become aware of their own bodies. They discern the sensation as either painful or non-painful.
Pain occurs in areas of the body where change has occurred. Normal processes are disrupted. Manual therapy is not merely a transiently effective treatment option. Scientific evidence now shows manual therapy preserves connective tissue elements, decreases pain, increases circulation and expedites healing. Evidence also shows positive change in the body causes positive change in the brain. Soothing, therapeutic touch stimulates receptors in skin and connective tissue. It interrupts pain circuits, restores the brain’s basic healing rhythms, and causes the release of pleasure neurotransmitters in direct opposition to pain-producing chemicals.
Utilizing touch and manual therapy techniques creates a connection between practitioner and patient, the patient’s brain and body and the patient’s emotional and physical state. Therapeutic touch and manual therapy are soothing and can help some to reconnect to childhood experiences of being soothed. It also allows for the surfacing of traumatic memory associated with the circumstance of their original injury or pain. Re-experiencing traumatic memory in a safe, controlled environment with a practitioner as facilitator or guide encourages the incorporation of the emotional component into a persons personal narrative.