Chronic pain is a pervasive issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It can have a profound impact on one’s quality of life, making even the simplest tasks challenging and overwhelming.

Chronic pain is defined as persistent discomfort that lasts for an extended period, typically three months or more. It can stem from various causes, including former injuries, long-term medical conditions and underlying structural issues. Many of us simply put up with the discomfort, blaming it on old age or something else, rather than finding a solution.

According to an IPSOS poll in 2022, around a quarter of the UK population has reported living with chronic pain of some kind. This makes it one of the most profound health issues in modern society.

Common Types of Chronic Pain

  1. Back pain: This is one of the most prevalent forms of chronic pain. Causes can include muscle or ligament strain, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, or structural issues in the spine.
  2. Arthritis: This is a condition characterised by inflammation of the joints. The two primary types are osteoarthritis, which results from wear and tear of the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder.
  3. Headaches and migraines: Chronic conditions such as persistent headaches are more prevalent than many people think. The causes include tension headaches and migraines triggered by certain foods, environmental factors, hormonal changes, stress and underlying medical conditions.
  4. Neuropathic pain: This results from damage or dysfunction in the nervous system. It can manifest as shooting, burning, or tingling sensations. Common causes include diabetic neuropathy, nerve compression and other nerve injuries.
  5. Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is another common disorder characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties. The exact cause is unknown but it is thought to affect around 2.5 million people in the UK.

Living with Chronic Pain

Individuals dealing with chronic pain often experience limitations in their ability to perform routine activities. This includes walking, lifting, or even sitting for prolonged periods. The constant pain can lead to constant tiredness, poor sleep and eventually mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Traditionally, chronic pain has been managed through a combination of medication, physical therapy, and surgery, depending on the underlying cause. While these treatments provide temporary relief, they often fail to address the root cause of the pain and may come with side effects or risks. Very often people just try to live with their pain, believing there is nothing they can do.

Can Structural Bodywork Help?

This is a therapeutic approach that focuses on realigning and balancing the body’s structure to alleviate pain and improve function. It involves hands-on manipulation of soft tissues, joints and muscles to release tension, restore alignment and potentially enhance the body’s natural healing abilities.

Structural bodywork offers a wide range of benefits for individuals dealing with chronic pain. These include:

  • Pain relief.
  • Improved posture.
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Enhanced body awareness and stress reduction.

What is Postural Alignment?

Working with a qualified therapist, postural alignment plays a crucial role in helping to reduce the development and persistence of chronic pain. Poor posture, often associated with sedentary office jobs in modern society, can contribute to musculoskeletal imbalances which eventually lead to pain and dysfunction.

Structural bodywork focuses on identifying and correcting these misalignments to alleviate pain and restore optimal function. Small changes can make a big difference for individuals. People who have had a structural bodywork session often report feeling more flexible and energised.

Techniques Used in Structural Bodywork

These may include deep tissue massage, myofascial release, joint mobilisation, stretching and movement re-education. A skilled structural bodyworker tailors the treatment approach to meet the specific needs of each individual, ensuring a personalised and effective session.

It’s important to note that each person is different and their needs must be taken into account when looking at the right therapeutic approach. An office worker who has poor posture, for example, will have different causal relationships to someone who is a professional athlete or farm worker.

During a session, your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of your posture, movement patterns, and areas of pain or tension that need to be addressed and get some of your backstory. They will then use various hands-on techniques to release tension, improve alignment, and restore balance.

Sessions are typically performed on a massage table, and clients may be asked to participate actively in movements and stretches to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment. Sessions normally last for an hour but can be longer depending on the type of chronic pain condition you have.

In general, several sessions are needed to produce a long-term effect and help reduce chronic pain. Again, this will depend on your condition and its severity.

Who is it for?

Structural bodywork is suitable for individuals of all ages who experience chronic pain or simply want to improve their overall well-being.

It can benefit those dealing with conditions such as back pain, neck pain, joint pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, and postural imbalances. However, it is important to consult with a qualified therapist first to determine if it is the right approach for your specific needs.

Unlike conventional treatments that focus on symptom management, structural bodywork targets the underlying imbalances, promoting lasting pain relief and improved function. By addressing the body as a whole, the therapist hopes to get to the root cause of pain rather than simply treating isolated symptoms.

Find a Qualified Structural Bodyworker in Devon

It is essential to find a qualified and experienced practitioner. Look for certifications, training, and reviews to ensure you receive treatment from a skilled professional. A reputable structural bodyworker will take the time to listen to your concerns, conduct a thorough assessment, and create a personalised treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Pippa’s Movement Therapy is based in a converted barn in the heart of Devon. Run by Pippa Cherrington, it offers a range of practical and effective solutions for those with chronic pain including structural bodywork.

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