If you’re like many people, you’ve probably noticed that over the last year and a half, you’ve been waking up with more aches and pains than ever before — low back pain, shoulder pain, tightness in the neck or even headaches.
If so, you’re not alone. In fact, a study that was released in April 2021, showed that there was an 84% increase in the number of people complaining about back pain issues on Twitter in November 2020 vs. in November 2019.
So what has been causing all of this pandemic-related pain? The answer is both physical and emotional.
First, as more people have spent time working from home, people’s poor posture has resulted in increased pain. Dr. Mary Ellen Boyte, a naprapathic doctor at the Center for Holistic Medicine, says when people sit at a desk or table that isn’t the right height for them, or don’t sit in an ergonomically correct chair, they can scrunch up their shoulders, causing their neck muscles to tense up. Or, they may be lounging on the couch with their laptop on their lap, causing them to arch their backs and strain their neck as they look down.
Another cause of increased pain has come from Covid itself. Muscle aches and body pain are a common symptom when people first get Covid, and they are also a common symptom of long Covid as well. According to a 2020 Italian study, 25% of people who get Covid still complain of consistent joint pain two months after the onset of symptoms.
Stress Leads to Pain
Of course, the increased stress due to a global pandemic has contributed to increased complaints of pain as well. According to the American Institute of Stress, when we are stressed, our muscles tense up, causing tension headaches and migraines as well as pain in the neck, back and shoulders. And stress and anxiety also trigger our hormones to have a stress response, causing them to pump more adrenaline and cortisol into our blood stream, leading to inflammation, which can make pain worse.
How Naprapathy Can Help
Dr. Boyte says if a patient comes in seeking relief from pain, she’ll first ask about what their work habits are at home, what kind of chair they sit in, and more, to get a good sense of what physical things may be contributing to their pain. She’ll also look at the alignment of their hips and spine to see if anything is out of balance.
“When someone comes to me for pain, no matter where it is in the body, I still check out the whole body, because usually the area of complaint is a symptom of something else,” she says. “For example, if someone comes to me for neck pain or headaches, if I don’t correct the hips, the treatment won’t hold.”
Once Boyte looks at a patient’s spine’s alignment, she’ll use naprapathy — a type of gentle, hands-on manipulation — to adjust their connective tissue, which can relieve the impinged nerves that are causing the pain. Often, she says, patients will feel immediate relief after just one session.
“It’s often a very easy fix,” Dr. Boyte says. “People will suffer from pain for a very long period of time, and after they see me, they say, ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’”
After doing the manual manipulation, Dr. Boyte will then give patients suggestions for stretches and exercises they can do at home that will help them strengthen their surrounding muscles to prevent the pain from reoccurring.
Healing from Emotional Pain
However, if a patient doesn’t feel relief after a few sessions, Dr. Boyte says that’s usually a clue that the pain may be a result of emotional pain or past trauma that is being stored in someone’s energy field.
To help with this, Dr. Boyte may use a type of energy medicine called pranic healing. Similar to reiki, pranic healing is a no-touch energy technique that helps clear away blocked or stuck energy around a patient’s 11 major chakras, before bringing healing energy into those areas.
The trauma that someone may have experienced doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with a specific area of the body for the pain to show up in that spot. For example, if someone’s emotional trauma was having an alcoholic father always telling them to shut up, they may have stuck energy in their throat chakra, which is associated with being able to speak the truth. But Boyte says that energy blockages can also rest in weak areas of the body, such as the lower back, which is why they may come in complaining of low back pain.
“People may not come to me for emotional pain, but as I’m treating them, it comes to the surface,” she says.
“When there is emotional trauma, I clean and energize the chakras related to the emotional issue, then I use naprapathy on the physical issue,” Dr. Boyte explains. “Working on the energy body can heal the physical body.”