Treating Disease is Not an Option

Treating Disease is Not an Option

It’s understandable that when someone presents with a specific problem, we want to try and come up with solutions that aim to ‘fix’ it.

Therapy forums on Facebook often feature questions along the lines of, “I have someone coming with –insert name of disease or problem here- are there any things anyone can suggest?”

People then of course suggest things.  These suggestions may or may not be helpful, but the motivation and indeed the question itself misses an important aspect of what holistic treatment is all about.  The fundamentals of connective tissue, suggests that the connected nature of everything in the body means that the possibilities for cause and effect on a wider scale are limitless.

I am not suggesting that for example the reflexology argument that there are zones in your feet that are related to your organs is one that holds true, just that you can’t chop your feet off and leave them with someone to fix, any more than you can your kidneys.  However vaguely they are connected.

Put another way, a human body is not a car.

If tomorrow morning you try and start your car and nothing happens, there is one reason and one reason only that this has occurred.  The variables are non-existent and if you reproduced the same fault in any other car the same thing would happen.

My knowledge of mechanics is something akin to zero, but I can be pretty sure that your car malfunctioning has nothing to do with it feeling depressed, unloved or fat.

I can also be reasonably certain that the rust on the side panel, the broken wing mirror and two under inflated tyres have no impact either.  Yet this is kind of how we go about trying to treat a human.

Every human has a a history and a wealth of circumstance that will contribute to their current experience.  A huge element of the presentation of any injury or illness, particularly chronic ones, will be influenced by patterns of learned behaviour.  How much of the pain is fear based?  How much of the nausea is responsive?  How much of what we are experiencing now has roots from deep in the past?

An understanding of how someone moves might point us towards looking at ankle work for a back pain or addressing the TMJ for a knee issue.  Again my implication isn’t that there the teeth have some mystical control over the joints, but that basic load bearing function is at play on a wide scale.

The basic rule of natural treatment, is that the body be treated as a whole, without referral to named disease.

Naming diseases is pretty straightforward and, let’s face it important when it comes to being able to treat life threatening problems.  For everything else, the rules change.

Back pain is the classic example.  Our human frame experiences back pain on a huge scale, second only to mental illness for work days lost to industry.  Yet medicine, for all its ability to conduct hear transplants and brain surgery, remains stumped by a good old fashioned back pain.

The trouble is that the back is subjected to a wide number of influences.  Physical work, emotional tension and just general movement.  Muscular structures all over the body will affect and change the way we use our back and learned patterns of behaviour and movement will give us postural patterns that will limit our movements.

Our environment and social situation, even our socio economic status will help to define how we sit, move, defecate and sleep and our back will bear the brunt of whatever and however we use it.

Even when we have a specific diagnosis of a bulging disc, this is isn’t a full picture and in many situations is an example of the diagnosis hindering rather than helping; most people with a bulging disc don’t have back pain and most people with back pain don’t have a bulging disc.

So next time someone presents with something you’ve never heard of, take a step back and ask, “what’s the problem?”

The problem with the client isn’t the same as the condition they are suffering and the two shouldn’t be confused.

Collagen and Fascia, Twist and Shout!

Collagen and Fascia, Twist and Shout!

 

Twist and Shout!

When we look at or talk about anatomical structures or humans in general, it feels like sometimes that there is a disconnect between us and the rest of nature.

It’s as if the rest of the animal kingdom exists in separation to that of the human species.  Certainly we don’t seem to be ‘at one’ with our environment, as countless examples of environmental vandalism bear witness and it feels like we set ourselves aside as different or special in some way.

The  human condition strives for a desperate sense of order.  Straight lines and linear ideas rule our thinking and understanding and we cut swathes of rod like structures out of surroundings where nothing is ever in a straight line.

Nature abhors a straight line however.  In straightness there is weakness and angles that will instigate collapse more readily than support.  When we see a tree, a plant, a bush or a bird flying, we are seeing movements of spirals and curves in action.

Humans are no different.  A skeleton (as much as a skeleton exists by itself), is a myriad of curves and offset angles with thankfully absolutely no horizontals that would cause us to dislocate our joints.

The structure of the tissues that hold us together, connective issues, are prime examples of non-linear tissues.  Collagen is the most common protein in the body and the collagen fibres that form our fascia and much of our connective tissue coiled and spring like, giving our bodies the elastic recoil that allows us to absorb forces and tensions.

Collagen is a triple helix structure.  Three thin strands wind themselves together to form a spiral type structure which, when fully formed, is stronger pound for pound than steel rope.  These helices don’t follow the line of muscle travelling around the body, but instead criss cross muscle and bone in a myriad of different directions.

Where muscle has a start and an end point, the collagen based fascia doesn’t.  Overlapping standard muscle insertions, the fascia invariably carries on from the end of one muscle and into the beginning of another.

This picture shows the adductor longus fascia as it traverses the pubic symphysis and continues in to the fascia of both the rectus abdominus and external oblique.  The temptation is to assign function or meaning to this kind of continuity and whilst it can be fun to do, there is little to be gained except to appreciate fascial continuity.

Example of Fascial continuity.

Adductor Longus Fascia overlapping the pubis

This kind of relationship is not unusual in the body and is not just surface tissue either.  It dips and dives into the pockets of muscle tissue, creating divisions; ceilings and walls that give the muscle a container in which to operate.

Muscle relies entirely on fascia for its integrity. Without the fascia, the muscle would have no form and no integrity and would be unable to function.