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Chronic (long term) pain is one of commonest reasons that people turn to the Alexander Technique. It is a drug free method, but is generally not available on the NHS. Research in 2011 in a NHS trial in Bristol showed that patients using the Alexander Technique were able to stop or considerably reduce their pain medication. In 2008, a Randomised Controlled Trial of 579 NHS patients suffering Low Back Pain was published in the British Medical Journal. It showed an 86% reduction in pain for patients using the Alexander Technique.
Conventional medical treatment of chronic pain is often limited to management of the condition. If however, the source of your pain is muscular or postural, the Alexander Technique may give you the means to eliminate it completely.
The Alexander Technique gives you a better way to understand how your body works. Through a course of one-to-one sessions with an Alexander Technique teacher, you learn to sense and release the stress and muscular compression that can compound pain. As you shift your entire system from a state of overarousal to a state of calm, you can lessen your pain and give your body a chance to heal.
A 2008 randomised controlled trial. A total of 579 people with chronic or recurrent low back pain were randomised to one of the following 4 groups:
Conclusion: Most benefit was provided by 24 Alexander lessons. Second most effective was 6 Alexander lessons. After 1 year, individuals with back pain who had undertaken Alexander lessons had only 3 days of pain per month compared with 21 days for similar patients who were receiving the usual standard-of-care from their GP. 24 Alexander lessons led to:
Little P, Lewith G, Webley F, et al. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique lessons, exercise and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain.
The research involved forty-three patients with chronic or recurrent pain who ‘were not getting better or responding to conventional treatment’. They received six consecutive weekly one-to-one Alexander Technique lessons from a STAT registered Alexander Teacher.
Conclusion: The research showed a dramatic decrease in the need for medication: More than half of the service users who took part in a service evaluation project stopped or reduced their use of medications between the start of the lessons and three months.
McClean, S and Wye, L (2012) Taking charge, choosing a new direction: A service evaluation of Alexander Technique lessons for pain clinic patients (SEAT): An approach to pain management.
A study of the effectiveness of 13 therapies used in a pain management clinic was carried out at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex. Questionnaires measuring this were administered at the end of the course, 3 months later and 1 year later.
Conclusion: The patients rated the Alexander Technique the best of 13 activities used.
Fisher K et al. ‘Early experiences of a multidisciplinary pain management programme.’ Holistic Medicine 3:47-56, 1988.
A major 3 year UK trial starting October 2011 at the University of York. Funded by Arthritis Research UK. It is investigating the effectiveness of two separate therapies for people with chronic neck pain compared with usual GP care. The therapies are:
In this trial, people with chronic neck pain are being randomised to one of three groups:
Pain and disability associated with neck pain will be assessed over 1 year, along with measures of quality of life, participant beliefs and experience, cost effectiveness and safety. The trial is not designed to be a direct comparison of Alexander lessons and Acupuncture, rather it will compare each of these with usual GP care.
After a close family member was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I started suffering from severe anxiety. This resulted in the muscles in my back, neck and shoulders to become stiff and painful. Over time, I was convinced I had a physical problem with my back which then made the anxiety symptoms worse. Over the past 3 years I have visited doctors, consultants, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, massage therapists and hypnotherapists. I was also sent for an MRI scan of my whole spine which came back normal.
So I decided to try the Alexander Technique. I look forward to my lessons each week and feel so much better mentally and physically. I am now beginning to see certain situations I come across in life as a challenge rather than a stressful problem.
I would thoroughly recommend Derek to anyone with similar problems to mine. I just wish I had known about this technique before wasting my money on other therapies, which were helping, but not dealing with the root cause of my problems.
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