I have tried everything for my chronic knee pain, and I do mean everything. I have had multiple steroid injections into my knee cavity (more pain inducing than relieving). I have had injections to replace the synovial lining of my joint. I have had FIVE radio-frequency ablations, in which a probe is put into my knee and heated to 100 degrees, in the hopes of burning the nerves. I have done yoga, seen energy healers and naturopaths. I have had two knee surgeries, endless sessions of physiotherapy and massage therapy, and am the proud owner of two hefty knee braces that have significant price tags attached. Yes, I’ve tried it all, but still I suffer.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned a yoga retreat that I was considering. Much like selections of yoga practices, there are equally as many choices when it comes to retreats. However, for me, I’m looking for ones geared towards people who suffer from chronic pain, and my massage therapist has directed me to retreats and lessons by Niel Pearson, who has a physical therapy degree and a masters in rehabilitation science. He also happens to be a yoga instructor. A physiotherapist combined with alternative healer? Right up my alley.
Neil teaches a lot of different pain management techniques through a variety of methods, however, I really like his approach to pain from the points of view of the patient, yoga instructors and healthcare practitioners. For those suffering with pain, he has created a multitude of products to cope including audio and visual DVDs, workbooks and educational books, on top of the yoga retreats that are usually a weekend long and dedicated to helping people, and their spouses, cope with a life in chronic pain. His website, Lifeisnow, provides a ton of free resources to educate, improve and benefit those suffering with chronic pain.
Yoga as treatment for chronic pain is certainly nothing new. The benefits of stretching and holding poses has been promoted for centuries, back when the practice first began. But pain remains a mystery for many health care practitioners, as it is our brain that tells us we are in pain, not the pain site. Niel Pearson’s approach teaches us to look at and relax the brain, combined with the assistance of yoga poses, in order to cope with injuries and the haunting after effects.
I’ve taken the step to sign up for the yoga retreat, and look forward to not just the yoga classes themselves, but the educational classes in which I learn to change my perspective on this nasty thing called pain, and what the actual root of the problem is. At the very least, trying another method can’t hurt. At least, not worse than those injections…