Chronic Pain Relief

In my Fundamentals of Natural Healing course, I talk a lot about reversing the pain of injuries by using techniques like pressure, massageInflamed Shoulder.jpeg and rapid-light stroking. However, as I've been working on a generic book on the same topic, I realized that I haven't addressed the value of these techniques for relieving chronic pain, such as arthritis pain. When I remembered the experience I had with my knee, I realized that it was quite a remarkable story—one that dramatically demonstrates the value of these techniques. Let me share it with you.

At the age of 23 I was serving in the Air Force. I was stationed at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey where I was studying Korean in preparation for a job in Air Force intelligence. Shortly after being stationed there, my wife of eight months decided to leave me and go home to her parents.

This left me without a car, so I purchased a moped. I'd had the moped for only one month when a driver made a left turn in front of me one night. Unable to stop, I slammed into the right front side of the car. I “got the driver back” by breaking his windshield and denting his roof with my body before I went flying over the top of the car and landed face down on the pavement. Fortunately, I was wearing a helmet with a face shield.  I can still remember how my eyes were open until I saw the pavement rushing up to meet my face shield and when I saw it crack, I decided it was time to close my eyes. I skidded across the pavement and came to a stop in the middle of the street.

Moped.jpgI was taken to the army hospital at Fort Ord. It was obvious that my wrist was broken because of the way it was hanging, but I reported that my knee also hurt. My wrist was x-rayed, but they just palpated my knee and told me it was OK. My wrist was set and my arm put in a cast and I was sent home with the friends I was living with.

A couple of days later they decided my wrist hadn't been set right and admitted me to the hospital for surgery. They inserted two metal pins to hold the bone in place, one in the back of my hand and the other near my elbow, then recast my arm. I reported to them that my knee still hurt and two more doctors felt the knee and told me it was fine. So, I was discharged from the hospital a second time and sent home.

It was shortly before Christmas, so a couple of weeks after the accident, I decided I needed to do some Christmas shopping. My friends drove me to a local shopping mall where I hobbled around for a couple of hours doing my shopping. My right knee swelled very badly and my friends took me to the hospital.

The doctor trained a medic in drawing fluid off a knee using me as the guinea pig. I remember him telling the medic where to insert the needle, then telling him that he would hit a protrusion of bone. I felt a sudden sharp pain in my knee and cried out, “Ouch!” Not even acknowledging me, the doctor proceeded with his instructions, “That's it, now just move the needle down a little.” They drew 100 cc of blood red fluid off my knee and sent me down to x-ray.

It turned out that my kneecap was broken in three pieces. They hadn't moved out of place, so the doctors had been unable to detect the break through palpation. They cast my leg and then the doctor came to me and matter-of-factly stated, “If we had caught this on the night of the accident there would have been a 50-50 chance that your knee would have healed normally. However, now that you've walked on this, you've roughed up the cartilage on the underside of the kneecap, broken blood vessels and done significant damage to the knee. So, chances are better than 90% that your knee will never be normal again. You'll develop arthritis in it, and you'll probably have to have further surgery and maybe an artificial kneecap.”

I was furious. I wanted to hit him. I was angry for being treated like an object, angry that I hadn't been listened to (I had told them repeatedly how much my knee hurt), and angry with his total lack of compassion.  But, I was an airman first class, he was an officer, and I knew my place—so I kept my mouth shut.

I went through a lot more problems before I was through with the military doctors. My wrist malunited and I had to be sent to an Air Force base for surgery on it.  I still have a problem with my wrist to this day.

(There's a side story here, in that I wasn't making progress with my wrist, even after the surgery, until I went off base for a weekend with some friends. One of my friends' mother was an NSP manager, so she sent me home with some comfrey, lobelia, capsicum and vitamin E. I began taking the supplements as well as a “mild food” diet.  I made dramatic progress, and it was that experience that actually caused me to “give up” on doctors and start getting serious about alternative medicine. So, I credit the medical doctors who attended me in the Air Force for me being where I am today.)

Back to my story about the knee. I was so angry with the doctor that I swore to myself that I'd beat the odds and my knee was going to heal up just fine. For the next five years, however, his “voodoo hex” on me seemed to be coming true. I couldn't run anymore. I walked with a limp. I experienced dull aches in my knee regularly and if I bumped my knee, it sent me into excruciating pain.

Dr. West to the RescueWrist Inflammation.jpg

In January of 1983, however, I starting working with Dr. C. Samuel West at the International Academy of Lymphology. I learned about inflammation from Dr. West, although he didn't call it inflammation. He called it trapped blood proteins, because inflammation is characterized by excessive amounts of plasma (or blood) proteins entering the tissue spaces and becoming trapped there. This causes a build up of fluid in the tissues which interferes with oxygen and nutrient delivery and waste removal. This causes cells to become sick.

The lymphatic system moves this fluid and protein out of the tissue spaces, restoring oxygen and nutrient delivery to the tissues and facilitating the removal of waste. Since massage, rubbing or other compression of the tissues increases lymphatic drainage, these techniques can be used to rapidly reduce inflammation and aid tissue repair in injuries. I've used them many times to completely reverse damage in various minor injuries, but what about old injuries, like my knee?

Dr. West said that if you can make the pain go away by rubbing, you can heal the tissues. The key is that you must return the tissues to their healthy “dry” state by removing the fluid stagnation around the tissues. This allows oxygen and nutrients to get to the tissues so they can heal. It also allows wastes to be removed.

When an area has been swollen for a long time due to a chronic inflammatory condition, the tissues lose their elasticity. This allows the area to swell up more easily than other tissues. Most people wait until the pain returns before they massage the sore spot again. In other words, they wait until the swelling has returned along with the pain before they massage again.

Dr. West said you need to massage before the pain returns. If the pain comes back after four hours, then you need to do the lymphatic massage every 2-3 hours. This keeps the fluid out of the tissues and allows them to repair themselves.

I started doing this with my kneecap. I would massage all around my kneecap until the pain went away, and then continue to regularly massage my kneecap many times each day. My goal was to keep the swelling from reoccurring. After about 30 days, there was no more pain in my knee. I could run again. I was walking without a limp. It was amazing!

It was twenty-seven years ago that I broke my kneecap. It was about 22 years ago that I worked on my knee. I have occasionally had a little swelling or pain in it over the years, which I have simply rubbed away. It has troubled me a little more since I broke my leg a few years ago and stressed the knee area again, but I don't have arthritis.  I can still run, and I haven't had to have surgery on my knee. It's amazing to me how simple things, repeated consistently, can yield amazing results.

A couple of years ago, I started working on my stomach every day using the massage techniques I've learned from Deanna Hansen, a certified athletic therapist, and was impressed with how my stomach shrank just by rubbing it. (You can read about these techniques in the Love Your Body Beautiful ebook available on this site.) I realized that a large part of the “weight” on my abdomen was fluid retention and obviously due to chronic inflammation that needed to be “rubbed away” just like my knee.

This got me thinking that supplements aren't going to be very effective at helping chronically inflamed tissues unless you apply the same techniques you use for acute injuries and get the fluid out of the tissues to restore normal circulation to them. This is because the fluid in the tissue spaces will inhibit oxygen and nutrients from reaching the tissues. It also doesn't matter how much you open up the channels of elimination, if you don't remove the excess fluid from tissues via the lymphatic system, the tissues aren't going to be able to release toxins.

Dr. West's work has taken on new meaning for me. I realize that his work was visionary. He really had discovered a grand key to healing all disease with his work on inflammation (trapped blood proteins) and the lymphatic system. Dr. West passed away a few years ago due to complications of an accident. However, he has left an important legacy for all of us. Meanwhile, one of his sons has taken on the job of continuing to promote Dr. West's work. If you're interested, you can check it out at