Ask Linda

by Linda Wobeskya, M.S., P.T., GBPPA Member

This column originally appeared in the Spring, 2002 issue of TRIUMPH.

Dear Linda,
My back pain seems to be getting worse. Iíve been to the doctor and he gave me medicine to take and sent me to Physical Therapy. The therapy would help for a few days but the pain kept coming back. I donít like to take pain medicine because it makes me groggy and upsets my stomach. Is there anything else I can try?
Aching in Acton

Dear Aching,
Many polio survivors deal with pain on a daily basis. Medication and physical therapy can be extremely effective for decreasing pain and increasing function. Sometimes, however, these traditional treatments may not help, or may not help enough. In these cases, people sometimes turn to alternative or complementary medicine.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has been defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health as ď and medical practices that are not currently an integral part of conventional medicine.Ē This definition encompasses a huge number of different modalities or treatments, including Acupuncture, Mind-body medicine, Herbal medicine, Homeopathy, Zero Balancing, Massage, Chiropractic, Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy.

Many CAM modalities look at pain, illness and healing very differently from conventional or allopathic medicine. In essence, CAMs are based on a different paradigm. The conventional medical paradigm is reductionistic. In other words, it reduces the causes of pain or illness down to a bacteria, virus, tissue or cell. If your back hurts, itís because the tissues (e.g. muscle, cartilage, nerve) in your back are inflamed. In contrast, most CAM paradigms are holistic. A holistic paradigm includes the same causes as the conventional medical paradigm and looks at the contributions of your mind, emotions and spirit as well. In a holistic paradigm, a problem in any one area (body, mind, emotion, spirit) naturally affects all of you. If the tissues in your back are inflamed (body) you may feel depressed (emotions) or worry about your ability to get a certain task accomplished (mind); you may wonder why life has to be so hard for you (spirit). Conventional medicine will treat the tissue or bacteria. CAM will treat the whole person.

The ways in which CAMs treat the whole person vary widely. As a Zero Balancing (ZB) practitioner, I am best equipped to comment on this CAM. I have used ZB to treat pain in many polio survivors. Zero Balancing is a hands-on bodywork system that aligns your physical structure with your bodyís energy. In the ZB paradigm, energy that is not moving freely through the physical structure can create problems in the body, mind, emotions and/or spirit of a person. As you can see, this is a fundamentally different view of healing.

This is a very large topic for a rather short column! If you are interested in exploring CAM further, here are some resources you may find helpful.

For more information on the ZB in general, go to:

The website of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is:

Discovering the Bodyís Wisdom by Mirka Knaster. This book contains descriptions of over 50 different bodywork systems, as well as lots of useful information about how to find a qualified practitioner and other pertinent topics.

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