The Art of Body Maintenance: Winners Guide to Pain Relief
The Art of Body Maintenance: Winners' Guide to Pain Relief - Finding Relief from Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain, Headache, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis and Sports Injury by Hal Blatman, MD and Brad Ekvall, BFA.
Book Review by Stuart Diamond (Editor-in-Chief of Empowered Doctor)
Quite a mouthful for a title. Yet, often buried under complex titles, especially in the field of healthcare, are treasures to be found. And this book is one of them. It is simply golden. Why? Because it works. The information in this book helps patients self-treat their own muscular skeletal pain quickly and effectively, with little fuss or bother. Also, the book is as much a picture book as a textbook. This is critical because it allows the user to zero in on their pain issues and find immediate approaches to find relief.
The book starts with an introductory section that lays out the premise, simply and clearly. According to Dr. Blatman, conventional medical training teaches that most pain comes from inflammation, pinched nerves, herniated discs, depression or the "it's in your head" syndrome. The traditional medical model provides a limited number of treatment options. These can range from surgery, injection blocks, psychological strategies, and a range of medications, including anti-inflammatories, opioids, antidepressants, anti-seizure, and sleep. Alternative treatment models may include massage, reflexology, chiropractic , acupuncture, biofeedback, and relaxation. While Dr. Blatman agrees that these modalities do work to varying degrees, it makes the patient dependent on the health provider. The goal of Dr. Blatman's work is to empower the patient - to help them understand the nature of their pain and what simple actions to help alleviate the pain.
Dr. Blatman's worldview of pain is from a myofascial perspective. Most pain, whether we perceive it as aching, numbness, cramping, knife-like, or tingling is generated by knots in the muscle and fascia tissue. (Fascia is the thin white connective tissue that interlaces with all of the muscles, bones and organs in our body.) The premise is that the majority of our sensory nerve endings are found in the fascia, not the muscles or bones. So when we feel pain, we are actually perceiving the fascia. There is also the issue of referred pain. Not only do we feel pain at the site of an injury, but we also may feel pain at a different site in the body - the referred site, where additional "knots" of fascia and muscle may form. For example, sciatica pain is typical. The origin of the problem may be near the hip in the gluteal muscle-fascia formation. But we feel the pain down the entire side of the leg. Also, there may be other "latent" knots that may not be painful, but contribute to the overall pain pattern. Breaking up these "knots" - or "trigger points" - can go a long way to quickly resolve pain.
From here on in the strategy is quite simple. Release the knots - the trigger points. In the book, Dr. Blatman offers readers basic strategies on how to find and release the trigger points. In his practice, Dr. Blatman offers patients with chronic pain that is not fully helped with self-treatment more advanced techniques, including platelet rich plasma injections, needle surgery, and dietary changes.
The Art of Body Maintenance is divided into four sections. At the end of the book is a Picture Index. That is where to go to find images of your pain. Whether your pain is in your hips, shoulders, wrist, etc., you will find the picture that best matches your pain pattern. Once you have found your Picture Index, you are then referred to the Map Section, the Ball Section, or the Stretch Section. The Map Section shows in detail the pattern of your pain, what muscles are affected and what to do about it. Then your refer to the solutions. In the book, Dr. Blatman provides two approaches for helping to release the trigger points and relieve pain - a rubber ball and stretching. You simply go to the referred pages and follow the instructions.
The ball approach uses the application of a simple rubber ball. A punch ball like we used in school or a tennis ball will suffice. One simply finds the trigger points (once you know where to look you will find them easily) and place the ball between yourself and a convenient wall or floor. You manipulate the ball so that it rolls and massage the area, releasing the trigger point. As the trigger point relaxes so does the pain, both locally and referred. The next section deals with stretches. Yes, we all have learned about stretching, but these stretches are geared to pinpoint and release specific trigger points - and thus releasing myofascial knots and tension.
That's it! And guess what. It works. When you know exactly where to look for the source of the pain and apply a simple methodology remarkable things can happen. It is hard to believe, at first, that relief of chronic pain can be so simple - and frankly inexpensive. The key is the knowledge.
Testimonials? Well, I am a cohort of one and all I can do is to provide my own story. My specs: Age - I am no longer young. And while in very good shape, I do have my share of aches and pains. Being in the field of alternative and holistic health, I have been exposed to many integrative treatment protocols - some of which worked, some of which have not. But as of late, my left hip was bothering me more and more. An arthritis specialist, who was my internist at the time, once suggested that I probably had the beginning of an arthritic hip. So first thing was that I bought into it. So now 20 years later, the pain in the hip seemed to be fulfilling that prophecy. I was beginning to limp and the pain was now chronic. So I figured I should have it treated earlier than later before it became really problematic - and was considering platelet rich plasma treatment with the hope of regenerating the cartilage. Though first, I went to my physical therapist. She listened attentively to my symptoms and complaints, and asked if I had an X-ray or MRO to confirm my casual self-diagnosis. No, I hadn't. So she then challenged me, saying that based on my symptomology, I may not have an arthritic hip, but rather some lower back issues. She recommended a few simple stretches. Then I picked up Dr. Blatman's book. I went to the index, found my pain pattern. I went out and bought a rubber ball. I came home and went to work, gently and easily. First, it felt so good. Next day I felt better, and followed a larger program of stretching, working with the rubber ball on the pain and sensitivities. And all I can say was that within a few days most of the symptoms were resolved. And even better, when I apply the techniques before bed, I sleep pain free, waking up with no cramps or tensions.
So that's my review - straight forward and honest. If you have any musculoskeletal pain and who doesn't, I highly recommend this book. It is a little pricey online, but well worth it if it saves you even one visit to a healthcare provider.
As with all health related recommendations it is important to check with your healthcare provider. The risks are minimal but still should be considered - especially for patients with cancer and certain cardiovascular conditions.
Dr. Hal Blatman MD is the founder and medical director of the Blatman Pain Therapeutics, and a nationally recognized specialist in treating myofascial pain. He is credentialed in Pain Management and Board Certified in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and in Integrative Holistic Medicine.
The leader in the field of Needle Surgery and holistic pain relief is Dr. Hal S. Blatman, MD, DAAPM, ABIHM. Dr. Blatman is a former president of the American Holistic Medical Association, and a past chair of the Integrative Medical Consortium. Dr. Blatman is a highly sought and frequent speaker at International Medical Conferences on pain and its treatment.