Alternative Treatment to Arthritis

Case Study by Gemma Quinn, 14th July 2005.

Esther Midson was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis two and a half years ago. Living in Hertfordshire at the time her GP diagnosed medication to ease the pain but she said, “I wasn’t happy taking tablets so I took myself off them and learnt to live with it.

Originally from Holland she decided to ‘live with it’ in warmer climates and emigrated to Spain last August where she met John Young, a sports massage therapist from the Massage and Rehabilitation Clinic at Villa Martin, Southern Spain. John attempts to look below the surface problem and finds that many common ailments, such as arthritis, are actually originating from other causes, which he says can be considerably eased through the use of lymphatic drainage.

He says when Esther approached him she had two complaints, one with her fingers and hands, the other her feet. He proceeded to carry out a series of range of motion tests to find out what the problems were and to find out where and what pain she was suffering, after finding the thumb and forefinger very tight he traced the origin of the problem to the neck.

“The nerves that service the thumb and forefinger originate in the neck, I then palpated the neck area to find out which muscles were causing the nerve impingement and proceeded to deal with the offending muscle which were the posterior and anterior scalene muscles, I also found that Esther had a problem related to the anterior scalene and the pictorialis minor trapping a vein and causing further nerve impingement and poor circulation to the hands and fingers. By using a mixture of deep tissue massage and lymphatic drainage massage therapy we managed to free the trapped nerve and clear the area allowing free and unrestricted motion to her hands.”

Esther has had four sessions with John and although admitting it can be a very painful experience at times, it is effective, and says she could actually feel her thumb loosening up and improving during the treatment, “You feel the heat going through, and my thumb and fingers became much less stiff.”

As for the problem that Esther has with her feet this has greatly cleared but still requires further treatments to finally eradicate the problem, John adds, “I am sure with further massage and remedial exercise this will also become a problem of the past. The beauty of clinical massage is that you can actually alter the shape of the body by allowing muscles that were tight and short to return to their original length and lymphatic drainage massage clears the surrounding local tissues of waste products that were probably the cause of the muscle tension, this then releases the muscle tension causing the pain.”

When arriving for a consultation a simple questionnaire is completed to give John an overview of the person’s health to enable him to spot trouble areas, “I’m looking for what they have done in the past, what they are doing in the present, what their job is, what their stress levels are like etc. It all helps me to build a picture of where the pain has come from, is it related to an old accident or a work related injury?”

He explains that there are two types of pain in the body, chemical and mechanical, “If you wake in the morning with a pain in your back, unless you fell out of bed causing that pain, it is likely to have been brought on by a chemical condition overnight, so my first port of call is the lymphatic system. If I cannot find any problems here I will then look to see if the problems are coming from elsewhere.”

Before setting up his practice in Villa Martin two years ago, the therapist worked for a period of years years in Southern California, where he says the weather patterns are similar to those here on the Costa Blanca, resulting in him seeing clients with similar problems to those he dealt with in the United States, adding that it is no myth that the sunshine helps ease those common complaints, “People come out here with aches and pains in their bones, they react to the warm weather which dries them out and gets rid of the damp.” However this ‘drying out’ can cause the body to become dehydrated if people do not drink enough water, which, according to John, causes a plethora of other problems, “It can lead to a build-up of metabolic waste products that cause problems of their own as they are pollutants to the body when trapped. Most of the people that come to see me, like Esther, drink too much tea, coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks and not enough water, without adequate water all the systems in the body become compromised. It affects the PH levels in the body and like a garden when the PH is in imbalance so is the whole body.”

He believes that in the last five years more people in the UK and USA saw alternative therapists rather than their GP’s as more and more people realise the benefits on offer. Whilst people can see other therapists to deal with the pain John explains that many people may not be aware that the underlying cause is a lymphatic problem, which won’t be dealt with through normal massage, “Most people come here after trying other therapists with well-established pain that is a compilation of use and abuse over the years. If it is a lymphatic problem then the muscles need clearing out and we work complementary to other forms of therapy.”

Full lymphatic draining can last around 2 hours a session but John says it depends on individuals, “Some people clear up easily but every individual is very different. It is the therapist that carries out the therapy by stimulating the system they are working on, but it is the individual that heals themselves not the therapist, their body then has to deal with their specific problem. People say therapists are healers, I don’t agree, I don’t heal people, I help direct the body to recognise that it has a problem enabling it to get itself back into line.

You have to take responsibility for your own healing, nobody can heal you except yourself. All you do is create a dependency on other people. It’s as if there is a need to blame someone else if it doesn’t work. There is definitely a dependency on the pharmaceuticals company’s and the drugs that they produce, not only by the users of these drugs but also by the dispensers of the drugs as well. There is so much money involved that everyone seems to turn a blind eye that they are not working. It’s the Kings Clothes story all over again.”

Esther concludes, “It has definitely helped me, but it may not help everyone.”


What are the benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

  • The benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage are considerable and are particularly relevant in today’s environment where pollution, stress and deficient immune systems make many people susceptible to illness and infections.
  • The lymphatic system plays a vital role in the body by regulating the immune system. When the lymphatic system becomes blocked, lymphatic fluid builds up and stagnates causing the entire system to become toxic.
  • Lymphatic Drainage clears blockages, eliminates metabolic wastes and toxins from the body, transports nutrients to cells and increases metabolic efficiency, all adding to the reduction of excess fluid and assisting weight reduction. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system and helps relieve stress and tension.

Who’s In Charge Of Your Health?

Just imagine what effects thoughts and emotions cause in our internal state. Recent studies by scientific researchers show a strong correlation between our emotional state and our immune systems. The relationship between brain wave activity and pulse rate, blood temperature, breath rate, galvanic skin emissions, pupil dilation, gastric flow and immune response is now well documented.

Can our emotions and thoughts make us sick? Is there some way our bodies get disrupted by negative stress factors, possibly of our own making? The evidence, including the changes in the health of our communities strongly supports this notion. Does that also mean can we also think ourselves well again? Do you keep yourself well on a day to day basis without even knowing it consciously? Are prayer and meditation good for us on a physical as well as mental and spiritual plane? The answer in my mind is emphatically yes.

The power of prayer in the healing process is also well documented. And what is prayer but a concentrated emotional exercise directed with an open and humble heart to a higher being in order to affect a positive change in oneself or that of others? You are in effect requesting a jump start at a cosmic level. The expression be careful what you wish for; It might come true shows how often we do experience success in attaining physical goals through mental or emotional expression.

Physical action helps, but the wish is faster than the thought goes to show our deep seated understanding that some tangible things really do have their origins in the intangible realm of the mind. It is not therefor impossible to see the link between their mind and the healing process. The mind and the body are one closed and interlinked system, and one cannot be separated from the other. Modern medicine tends towards specialisation of skills and compartmentalisation of treatments. If you have had a recent hospital experience you will probably have experienced this frustrating truth. Each department will each want its own samples of blood, urine etc, even though you just gave samples to another department not half an hour before. Medical techniques may be wonderful for treating specific symptoms, but where is the healing art needed to maintain the health of the whole person.


Did You Know?

New York, July 04 (Reuters): The number of patient visits to practitioners of ‘alternative’ medicine in the United States now outstrips consultations with traditional physicians. What does this mean to the relationship between conventional doctors and their patients?

One physician expert says communication is key. Yes, we can accomplish miracles with modern medicine, but often in a de-humanising way, with side effects possibly as bad as the illness itself. Treatment of the whole system, body, mind and soul is the only path forward, and I think that we must follow it.

This combination of new scientific and old healing arts is in fact happening as the medical community gives grudging acknowledgements and acceptance to many natural folk remedies, previously and disdainfully dismissed as superstitious. Science is proving, for example, that certain foods, natural herbs and many forms of body work offer a wide range of medicinal benefits, some curative and some preventative.


Why Do People Seek Alternatives?

John Austin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford University School of Medicine, set out to find an answer to the question, why do patients use alternative medicine? His results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 and, once again, there were some surprising results. Only 4.4% of those surveyed said they used alternative therapies exclusively; the rest used them as complements to mainstream medicine. Confirming earlier studies, Austin found that alternative medicine users are more highly educated than the population at large; they have a holistic orientation to health; they have had a trans-formational experience that changed their world view; and they could be classified as being in a cultural group identifiable by their commitment to environmentalism, feminism, and interest in spirituality and personal growth psychology.

Interestingly, Dr. Austin found that the best predictor that someone uses alternative medicine was not dissatisfaction with the mainstream medical system or mistrust of government, but rather his or her feeling that these healthcare alternatives (are) more congruent with their own values, beliefs, and philosophical orientations towards health and life. An article in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed those findings:

The attraction of alternative medicine, say authors Eisenberg and Kaptchuk, is related to the power of its underlying shared beliefs and cultural assumptions. Its basic premises, which include advocacy of nature, vitality, and spirituality, offer patients a participatory experience of empowerment, authenticity, and enlarged self-identity when illness threatens their sense of intactness and connection to the world.



The debate over the effects of electromagnetism on the human organism, however it turns out, at least raises the question of whether the use of good technologies such as televisions, computers and cellular phones or even the proximity to electric power lines can have an increased incidence of illness, including various cancers. Our health as human beings may be more of a delicate balancing act than previously thought.

The recent craze of getting in touch with our bodies and ourselves shows how far we have come from the belief that science can render all the necessary remedies to maintain health and that we need only be passive non participants in the process, take the pill is being replaced with eat a healthier diet and get some exercise. There is a general feeling of wanting to take back control of our lives, even if we don’t know how or why we lost it in the first place.

Taking responsibility for our own health is essential. Even though we must rely on the wonders of modern medicine to bail us out when we suffer a major trauma, proper self-help may eliminate this need in the first place. When it’s time for major heart surgery, you need a surgeon, but is it not better not to need the major heart surgery in the first place? Proper exercise and diet play vital roles in maintaining proper health, but what about proper attitude?

Even if we are following an exercise and diet regime to the letter and taking all the necessary minerals and vitamins, stress could kill still kill you. Once again, the mind and the body are a team, totally interactive and cohesive in nature, not some amalgamation of individual systems that operate independently. How we feel is frequently more influenced by our attitude about ourselves, positive or negative, than by any strict physical condition. And how we feel can often be diagnosed by our willingness to follow a healthy lifestyle.