Neurochemistry of Pain Relief Using Feldenkrais

Using the widely accepted Wall and Melzack “Gate Control Theory” of pain, Feldenkrais may work to achieve pain relief by activating pain inhibitory cells in the spinal cord.

The Gate Control theory proposes that inhibitory nerve cells in the spinal cord control whether a pain impulse coming from the periphery, such as the foot, is relayed to the brain or not.

A Swiss research team has discovered which inhibitory neurons in the spinal cord are responsible for this control function. As the study published in Neuron shows, the control cells for the gate are located in the spinal cord and use the amino acid glycine as an inhibitory messenger.

Based on everyday experience we know that gently rubbing or holding an injured extremity can alleviate pain in this area. According to Gate Control theory, non-painful contact (touch) with the skin activates the inhibitory cells. The researchers verified this hypothesis and confirmed that the inhibitory, glycine-releasing neurons are innervated by such touch-sensitive skin nerves (mechanoreceptors.)

The pharmacologists were also able to demonstrate that neurons (nociceptors) where the relay of the pain signals takes place are primarily inhibited by glycine signals. These findings identify for the first time the neurons and connections that underlie the Gate Control Theory of pain.

Pain relief is often achieved by a single simple, yet precise Feldenkrais lesson. This can now partially be explained by mechanoreceptors activated by the simple touch of a Feldenkrais practitioner. Pain relief is also achieved by the overall improvement in the body’s organization for movement, mediated in the brain by the process of neuroplasticity. 

 

Therapy works just as well as fusion for disc-related back pain

Surgery for back pain does not work any better than therapy or no treatment at all. A study conducted at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital ("Operative and Nonoperative Treatment Approaches for Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Have Similar Long-Term Clinical Outcomes Among Patients With Positive Discography" - September 15, 2013) found that patients with back pain and disc disease did not demonstrate a significant difference in the outcome measures of pain, health status, satisfaction, or disability based on whether the patient elected for fusion or no surgery at all. Therapy is now a first-line option for treating chronic back pain, and the Feldenkrais Method can be recommended with confidence that it is backed by science. 

Feldenkrais, neuroplasticity and chronic pain relief

Neuroplasticity is a modern term that refers to our brain's ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. Scientists used to believe that changes in the brain could only take place during infancy and childhood. By adulthood, it was believed that the brain's nerves and structure was permanent. Modern research demonstrates otherwise.  The brain continues to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones in order to adapt to new experiences, learn new information and create new memories as long as we are alive. This is the basis of the Feldenkrais Method's ability to heal chronic pain: learning to adapt in new ways to the same old stimuli and stressors, to create new responses to the same movement questions, and have these new responses become permanent. These new responses create more effective environments for healing those nagging chronic pains we all seem to have. And that is really what we're after: permanent chronic pain relief!!

Feldenkrais, Neuroplasticity and New Discoveries in Chronic Pain

More than 100 million Americans experience chronic pain. And although that’s more than the number of Americans who suffer from heart disease, cancer, or diabetes combined, chronic pain often goes untreated. Chronic pain is distinguished from acute pain in that it lasts for much longer than normally expected, usually over three to six months. 
Until now, the common misconception about pain is that it’s connected to tissue injury. Most people think that unless something’s broken, or torn, or herniated, that you’re not going to have persistent pain. In other words, some sort of damage that you can see or image should exist. We now know that this is not the case. Chronic pain is caused by changes in the brain and the spinal cord and the nerves that go through tissues. Because you can’t tell by looking at someone how much pain they’re in, and people assume that you can, patients with chronic pain face a lot of challenges (from New Discoveries in Chronic Pain Research, retrieved 11/1/13). 
Feldenkrais uses our nervous system's capacity for self-organizing and self-regulating to improve the quality of our actions, a process called neuroplasticity. Improving movement quality allows the body to function more efficiently. This efficiency creates environments for chronic pain to heal, and opportunities for athletes and others to excel. 
Having chronic pain? Don’t let it ruin your quality of life! Allow me to show you how the Feldenkrais Method can work for you. Please call 760-436-2403 for your free phone consultation.