CIHA explores alternative treatments for drug-free pain relief

Christy Fletcher demonstrates reflexology at Cornerstone Integrated Health Associates.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Christy Fletcher demonstrates reflexology at Cornerstone Integrated Health Associates.

Mornings can be difficult for those with feet, leg and hip problems, not to mention what an energy drain they are. I thought age and the bad luck to have flat feet meant I just had to deal with it. Getting out of bed was a slow process, because my feet hurt so badly. That all changed when I went to see a reflexologist at Cornerstone Integrative Health Associates (CIHA).

CIHA, located in Springbrook Corporate Center, offers a holistic approach to physical and emotional healing using the practices of acupuncture, massage therapy and Rubenfeld Synergy. Within those modalities, certified personal provide different treatments to meet the needs of many health issues all in one facility, Carolyn Weisenberger, director, said. The alternative approaches to pain management are not meant to replace traditional medicine but rather compliment it with many referrals coming from the medical community.

I was invited to try reflexology so that I could see the benefits firsthand. I knew it would make my feet feel better, but I didn’t anticipate the total benefits.

Reflexology is a specialized method of massage that focuses on the feet or hands, which have points that correspond with organs and upper body areas. Although I have had full body massages before, this one focused solely on my feet. Christy Fletcher, a nationally certified massage therapist and a state certified reflexologist, explained to me about reflexology and how the results would benefit the rest of my body.

The massage is done in a similar environment to a full body massage with low lights and soothing music. My flat feet have always been problematic, and several years ago, I developed plantar fasciitis. It can be extremely painful and flares up unannounced.

Christy asked me if I had problems with my left hip based on what she felt in my left foot. I do have periodic hip problems stemming from my dancing youth, but it hadn’t bothered me in awhile, so I had forgotten about it.

After the massage, I felt like a noodle, almost as if I had had a full body massage. I knew my feet would feel better for awhile, but to be honest, I was shocked at the results. The next morning when I got up, it was as if I’d never had feet problems. It took me a few minutes to realize I wasn’t hobbling around because my feet felt like normal feet, like they used to. For the first time in a long time, I felt energetic and rested. My hip was also no longer adding to the situation.

Now two weeks out since that massage, I am still feeling the positive effects. The pain is slowly returning, making me realize that I will need more treatments, but I am happy to have found something that makes me feel more like I used to before the pain became so deep-seated.

I’ve always known that when my feet were tired the rest of me was dragging, but I didn’t realize exactly how closely those two were related.

Before my therapeutic massage, I met with practitioners from CIHA to learn more about the services they offer. In addition to reflexology, Christy does regular and deep tissue massage, pregnancy and infant massages and works with oncology patients. Infant massages can help parents bond with their child and help babies who have trouble relaxing or sleeping.

Christy is certified to provide massages to oncology patients while they are going through cancer treatments. If the patient is in hospice care and nearing death, massage therapy can ease their remaining time.

“It’s very emotional,” she said. “It’s very rewarding though, because so many people treat cancer and hospice cases as off limits. (The massage) is very beneficial to them. It’s very beneficial to the person doing it. It’s very beneficial to the family.”

Acupuncturist Anita Hill said the eastern alternative treatment helps the brain release chemicals that provide pain relief. Tiny needles are inserted into muscle tissue for local stimulation that travels up the spine into the brain, triggering the chemical release.

Rubenfeld synergy is a therapeutic tool useful for helping people who have gone through a traumatic event or other adverse life events. Susan Maxwell, who is the only certified synergist in Tennessee, said Rubenfeld uses verbal dialogue, touch and movement all simultaneously.

“Whether the impact is emotional or physical, it affects everything else,” Maxwell said. “This is a wonderful way for people to get really deeply connected with what happened to them.”

This holistic approach to pain management gives clients an alternative to prescription drugs for dealing with pain, said Steve Wildsmith, media consultant for CIHA.

The facility, a sister organization of Cornerstone of Recovery, was created as an effort to help its clients, who are in recovery for addiction, deal with chronic and acute pain without using narcotics, Wildsmith said. Medical professionals have been changing the way they deal with pain management issues because of increasing rates of addiction.

“As the public and the field of medicine at large becomes more educated about the complexities of addiction and the various issues that accompany long term medication and long term prescriptions, they begin to look at other ways,” Wildsmith said.

“Pain management in the traditional western medicine sense of the word is simply that: It is the management of the pain without necessarily addressing the symptoms. Here we believe that pain is the manifestation of something deeper, something underlying. We don’t profess to be experts at curing that, but we believe the body knows best in terms of how to reduce reliance on that pain.”

The alternative treatments can be used for many different issues in addition to pain management including smoking cessation and weight loss.

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