“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. “
– Mark Twain –
The musculoskeletal system is composed of muscles, connective tissue, bones and joints. The tough, dense and protective character of these tissues contrasts sharply with the softness of our internal organs. The bulk of the musculoskeletal system develops during the third trimester of pregnancy, forming a coating the shape and strength of which is intimately connected to our sense of self, as well as to our mobility, physical power, vital force and general well being.
TCM doctors note that there are two basic types of health problems with musculoskeletal tissues–degeneration and pain/blockage. They generally treat degenerative changes in bones or tissues with nourishing and digestive herbs, and pain or blockage with herbs that open blockages, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation. Diseases of this system can be divided into categories depending on which components they affect.
Ayurvedic doctors use, in addition to herbs and dietary changes, various forms of cleasing and healing, especially massage (abhiyanga). These treatments are contained in a special branch of Ayurveda called panchakarma.
The Importance of Collateral Bodywork in Treatment
Manual healers from all schools point out that proper alignment and balance are necessary for energy and fluids to flow freely throughout the body, and to relieve pain and blockage. It is my personal clinical observation that when treating most diseases of the musculoskeletal system, we must use herbal and nutritional approaches hand-in-hand with skillful bodywork such as massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, rolfing, acupuncture or osteopathy. Mechanical misalignments and tensions both contribute to and prevent healing of these problems. As well, T’ai Chi or Yoga can be used.
An integrated program of herbs and nutrients with bodywork can often dramatically improve results.