A real pain in the neck
Kawai Wong checks in with an osteopath in order to combat chronic muscle aches
Verdict An organised way to alleviate chronic aches and pains
The hell we go through at night if we have a sore shoulder, neck or back: it’s severely uncomfortable and it’s unlikely we get any beauty sleep. The agony is like that sharp spring frost penetrating deep through the muscles, creating wincing pain when you shuffle to change position. Heat pouches can cause the aching to back off – but generally only for a couple of hours. Ammeltz soothes the pain – but only for a few minutes.
Massages can alleviate the misery, but how does one find the time and money to do that every day? The problem can soon turn chronic, and then we run out of patience and can’t find new ways to combat it. In this city, where the majority of the population spends half of their life sitting (often incorrectly) in front of a cramped desk, we’re sure plenty of people regularly suffer from bone-and-muscle pain. But what can they do?
Osteon is the Greek word for bone and, indeed, osteopaths target muscles and skeletons, and help nurture them back into their original, healthy states. Once everything falls back into place, fluid starts to flow so that toxins can get flushed from the lymph system and oxygenated blood can nourish the muscles. Nerves stop firing alarm signals that usually cause all that horrible pain and discomfort.
Sean O’Sullivan, my osteopath, who spent four years at university honing his crafts and now practices structural osteopathy and craniosacral therapy, starts the session with a thorough consultation. (Where’s the pain? When did it start? What have we done to kickstart the agony in the first place? How do we alleviate it?) And, to confirm his diagnosis, he evaluates my muscle conditions by asking me to resist certain movements. Once that nasty little pain-causing culprit has been identified, the therapy starts.
O’Sullivan basically uses swift motions to snap and crack skeletons back to where they belong. He also holds, for example, your neck in such a way that the overstretched muscles get a good chance to relax. Parts of my body are manoeuvred, pretty painlessly, so that my backbone realigns. Unlike a common massage where the therapist focuses solely on the painful region, the osteopath treats all the interconnected muscles, ligaments and bones because they all push and pull each other. This way, chronic pains can be ‘cured’ and not just momentarily relieved.
The hourly treatment yields remarkable results. And, following it, I’m able to fall asleep pain-free for weeks – but, sadly, the agony rears its ugly head again and I’m forced to head back to O’Sullivan for a second time. He makes a few suggestions to change my lifestyle habits and the ‘feng shui’ at my workstation to eliminate the ‘incorrect’ stimulations that trigger muscular misery. And so far it’s working. Thankfully, he doesn’t want to see me any time soon – and, indeed, the feeling is mutual. But we’re glad we saw him in the first place.
Sutherland-Chan Centre 60-minute Osteopathy Treatment, $1000. 19/F, World Trust Tower, 50 Stanley St, Central, 2544 5838; http://www.sccentre.com.hk