While the term PTSD is usually reserved for veterans of war, victims of assault, or for persons dealing with significant trauma, many individuals go through life with an accumulation of circumstances that in many cases have “stacked” one upon the other to form an adaptive sympathetic overlay. Each event, regardless of size or duration, equals an ongoing background static irritation that does not go away; rather, it moves us away from our health and sense of free expression. The end result of this is often pain, tension, exhaustion, agitation, depression, and a heightened startle response.
I do not treat PTSD directly, and recommend that patients facing “significant trauma” consult with psychologists. However, Osteopathy has proven greatly helpful in removing somatic memories quickly and effectively. Moreover, by understanding how the body has posturally adapted to shock and stress, treatment has been clinically proven to to unravel and guide the patient back to health.
PTSD and Dysautonomia
In my work with complex chronic illness cases, my colleagues and I have noted certain markers related to PTSD that also show up in a condition known as Dysautonomia. While Dysautonomia is a term usually reserved for only the most severe and specific conditions, we have noted a “crossover” between symptoms of Dysautonomia and many other conditions that have become intractable.
Managing “Functional” Dysautonomia has become a specialty of mine and it is a backbone component of my treatment regimen. While many studies support the use of relaxation, mediation and breathing and show great promise, none that I have found incorporate mechanical decompression of the triggers that cause the problem to remain chronic or re-emerge repeatedly.
We are designed to respond to stress by activating a number of pathways of the nervous system, musculoskeletal system and endocrine system that are part of the fight or flight mechanism and are essential to survival. In nature, these responses and the resources that they recruit are designed to be “short-lived” so that we can avoid harm or escape danger. For many of us, these events are long standing, repetitive and ultimately stack up to cause symptoms exactly like both PTSD and Dysautonomia, although at a slightly lower lever, thus I titled it “functional” because we can still function, just at a lower level of function, comfort and endurance.
Through the application of Osteopathic Manual Medicine techniques designed specifically to improve circulation, quieted down parts of the central and autonomic nervous system as well as improve physical motion, I have developed protocols that allow me to test and treat disorders differently, and ultimately gain an upper hand in management, improvement and resolution of some of the toughest and most chronic conditions. What is even better has been the ability to teach methods of self-care that restores independence, self-empowerment, hope and improvements in quality of life for patients so that they can live independently with a better sense of health
Through extensive trail and error, I have developed a protocol the allows a predictable recovery to occur through first treatment, then teaching self care protocols to patients via educational videos. The results have been quite remarkable.