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  • Writer's picturemichelledangmd

Integrative Medicine: Part 1

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Many people have asked me what my recommendations are in terms of managing pain from an integrative medicine perspective. When I'm in a room talking to a patient who is interested in learning more about how to feel better, it becomes a conversation to me and information just flows. To make it easier, I'm breaking it down into several parts. I've come up with this based on my own personal health journey as well as that of my patients.

Part 1: Movement Therapy

The hardest part about being in pain is just that - being in pain. It becomes a vicious cycle wherein you don't want to move because you're in pain and you're in pain because you don't move. One of my mentors during my training would tell our patients, "do what you can, within your own limitations". It sounds simple, but if today you can only walk from the couch to the door, then just do that. And do that for a few days. When you feel ready, walk from the couch to the front porch. Then from the couch to the mail box. You're gradually re-training your body to be able to do more, and to get stronger. If you've heard of the app Couch to 5K it's just like that. You set a goal, and each day you gradually increase your endurance to reach that goal. The biggest challenge to you feeling better is yourself. It is so much easier to allow the negative thoughts to permeate your mind. But rather than let it (and pain) take over your life, make a (manageable) goal each day. It would be unrealistic for me to tell you that you can get up and run a marathon. But do what you can within your own limitations. I've been asked, what should I do? Should I walk? Cycle? Yoga? Lift weights? My answer is it depends on you and what you can do and what you enjoy doing. Me -- I love yoga and pilates. But you may find you don't like yoga/pilates and prefer cycling. If that's the case, my goal is to get you back doing the activity that you enjoy doing, one step at a time. If it's only 10 minutes of cycling, then that's just it for as long as you can handle it, and then slowly increasing the amount of time you're able to do that activity.

In yoga, before class starts, we typically set an intention for the practice, whether it's grounding, being present, etc. I would like you to set an intention for your day, maybe even your week. Something that you can achieve. Write it down. I love checklists, because I love being able to mark it off when I'm done. Write it down somewhere that you can see, maybe stick it on the refrigerator. When you're done, check it off. See how you feel when you check it off, and maybe pat yourself on the back.

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