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The official organization for Hanna Somatics information, resources, continuing education, practitioner support, and community.

Hard to believe… I’ve learned how to get out of pain

In July of 2007 I had sudden onset pain in my lower back / hip. Active at 46, I was about 20lbs heavier than I should have been, and, had ever had any back issues or back pain until then. Over the next 15 months I had an MRI showing nothing of significance (one small disc bulge that shouldn’t have caused the pain), a clean X-Ray, P/T, massage, chiropractic care, An electric stim test, an anti-inflammatory shot for piriformis (minimal results), more P/T, 3 cortisone shots over 9 months epidurally into my spine, another MRI showing 2 small disc bulges (everything was getting worse instead of better)… I was still in constant pain ranging from knife like pain down my leg to headache like throbbing in my buttock and hip.

Aleve/Motrin seemed to help ease it a bit, but couldn’t take it away. Staying active kept it loose and laying down or sitting aggravated it, as things tightened up which aggravated the sciatica. Unable to sleep more than 2 hrs. at a time due to the pain waking me up, I would be up all night, pacing and stretching. I was even considering surgery (despite the MRI showing the bulges shouldn’t have been causing that much pain) as I needed to do something… On-line research led me to Somatics and I was game to try anything at that point.

Basically, its premise is that over time your body, through small injuries, bad posture, tension, etc., ‘forgets’ how to relax certain muscles fully (sensory motor amnesia). Stretching hurt because it was tearing at muscles tying to contract, working them out felt better initially by loosening them and wearing them out but then exacerbated it by creating more tension. That constant tension (even though you feel relaxed in my head) creates problems. I just felt like even though I had relaxed the muscles in question, they were ‘tight’. Although hard to find a practitioner around my home, I finally found one about an hour’s drive from me. The practitioner at Jade Forest’s Pain and Mobility Clinic, John Loupos, is not only well versed in Somatics but a very intelligent and thoughtful provider. With high hopes but low expectations, I signed up for just 4 sessions over the next month. By the third week I was sleeping through the night! One 1 hr. session a week for 5 weeks (I opted for an extra) and I was almost completely pain free and back to ‘normal’. His feeling was that the bulges were possibly occurring because the spinal muscles in constant tension were compacting my spine.

Unfortunately after about 2 months of feeling almost normal (I still felt a little tension bending over to put on shoes, etc.) I made the mistake of being very lax on performing the movements which had helped me, and then shoveling 18" of heavy snow (I live just outside Boston MA) … and my back tightened up again. Combining that with a 4 hr. drive to see family on Christmas and I am back trying to get rid of the pain, up every two hrs. This is again frustrating, but I now know I have some recourse, so I am back for more Somatics. This time I’ll stick with the exercises even after the pain goes away in order to remain flexible!