Jan. 06--FARMINGTON -- Chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart
disease and cancer combined, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
Because it is often incorrectly treated, chronic pain can also lead to
prescription drug abuse, accidental poisoning and a sense of hopelessness and
even depression for those who endure it. While chiropractic treatment can
sometimes offer relief for pain sufferers, it's often temporary and requires
For the past several years, a local chiropractor has been offering an
alternative form of pain treatment called myofascial release, which focuses on
identifying and releasing trigger points in muscles to relieve patients' pain.
"The technique was started by a medical doctor, Janet Travell, who suffered from
chronic pain, herself," said Rick Edwards, owner and operator of Myofascial
Healing Arts in Farmington. "One day, she leaned up against something hard, and,
although it really hurt, after constant pressure, the pain was released."
Travell began researching the effects of pressure on muscles and discovered that
if enough pressure is placed on trigger points within a particular muscle,
spasms causing pain will let go, alleviating the pain, Edwards said. Unlike
traditional chiropractic treatments, which often focus on adjusting bones and
joints, myofascial release concerns itself strictly with muscles.
"Every muscle has this reflex mechanism, and what I do actually fires the reflex
to make the trigger point release. It tells the muscle to let go," Edwards said.
"I don't have to dig deep to find it, and, once it's released, the pain goes
away within one to two seconds."
Edwards is a licensed chiropractor and had practices in Aztec and Bloomfield
until 2005. He later trained in Denver, Colo., on myofascial release techniques
before returning to San Juan County and opening his Farmington practice.
He says he is one of the only chiropractors in New Mexico specializing solely in
myofascial release techniques. He said he decided to make myofascial release his
specialty because it is the most effective pain relieving method he has found
and because it has a permanent, lasting effect.
"It was so frustrating before (with traditional chiropractic methods) because
I'd see the same people over and over again. But now I can quickly get people 70
percent or more improved, and most stay that way without needing further care,"
Most of Edwards' patients have been grappling with chronic pain for at least
five years, he said. The number of visits needed to achieve the muscle release
that alleviates pain depends on each patient, and, because the treatment
involves identifying where the trigger point in the muscle is, some initial pain
is involved. Those who have been through the treatment, however, say enduring
that momentary pain to achieve a pain-free life is worth it.
Sherry Cole, 59, was diagnosed in 2010 with fibromyalgia, which is characterized
by all-over body aches and a heightened response to sensation and pain. She
endured years of pain, fatigue and "brain fog."
She said that after her diagnosis, physicians didn't give her many options to
manage her pain, other than to prescribe medications and tell her to watch her
diet. But that didn't make a difference in the amount of pain she was
experiencing, so Cole decided to see if Edwards could help. After undergoing
treatments three times a week for several months, she reports that her pain has
been greatly reduced.
"(Edwards) sits and talks to you and wants to know what's going on with your
body and your pain," she said. "If he can't help you, he'll tell you that.
Suffering from chronic pain can make you miserable, and I really believe the
treatments have made my life better."
Lloyd Scott, 74, suffered from debilitating back pain since a combat-related
injury while serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam in 1967. After
unproductive visits with doctors and chiropractors over the years, the pain got
worse, and by the time he made the appointment to see Edwards last November, he
found himself unable to walk at times.
The myofascial release treatments brought an almost instantaneous reduction in
Scott's pain, he said.
"After the first treatment, I had 80 percent relief," he said. "After the second
one, it was like I had virtually no pain at all, and I'd say I'm now 90 percent
improved. I had been on some strong pain killers before, and now I may
occasionally take two aspirin."
Edwards credits the intrinsic ability of patients to help heal themselves -- in
addition to the myofascial release technique -- with the results he has seen.
"I believe the only thing healers do is allow people to tap into their own
healing power," he said.
Leigh Black Irvin covers health for The Daily Times. She can be reached at
505-564-4610 and firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her @irvindailytimes on Twitter.
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