I have referred another patient, a veteran, to my orthopedic massage provider.

In Somatics, Thomas Hanna talks about how we store trauma in our muscles, locking the stabilizer muscles. He says that we either lock in a fight posture or a flight posture or a combination. He talks about Sensory Motor Amnesia. Per the Hanna Somatics website this "is the condition of chronically-tight muscles that have learned to stay contracted due to repeated and reflexive response to stress such as accidents, injuries, surgeries, repetitive tasks, and on-going emotional stress."

I am still taking veterans. I have a new one, a young one. I have a Vietnam vet, but this one is from a much more recent conflict. He complains of pain. Our first visit was an hour. I talked about how muscles tighten with trauma and can "forget" how to relax.

He said, "I had four months of 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, wearing 50 pounds of body armour, on a computer in poor lighting being shelled. Do you think that could contribute?"

Well, dear reader? What posture do you think a person would have in that situation and where does he hurt?

Neck, shoulders, upper back. From being hunched forward on a computer, muscles tight, too many hours, head forward and locked.

He cannot lift either arm to horizontal to the side or forward without pain. An armour suit indeed. His body has produced his own armour and is locked. And this is what we are doing to our young people in the military. He has been asking for help for years now and has been handed muscle relaxants. Which do not work.

Most of my family medicine training about the body focused on the spine. We learned about back pain and sciatica and how to tell if a disc is pressing on a nerve. But we learned very little about muscles and most of back pain is muscular. A surgical back exam is rare, about one out of 100 of my family practice. Even though my practice is primarily older and over 50, and many over 65.

"Think of it as if your muscles have PTSD. They are truamatized from that work. They are hypersensitive and are more easy to injure."

"Would stress make it worse?"


"Every time I have to drive for a while, it all hurts and is worse."

Well, yes, arms up and the stabilizer muscles are still locked. Not a big surprise that he complains of fatigue. If you are fighting your own locked muscles all the time, and those muscles are NOT relaxed. They are WORKING.

We will try orthopedic massage. Other avenues include physical therapy, chiropractor, accupuncture and we also can try some treatments for PTSD. There is not one right way: the way depends on the person.

Hopefully we will find a way for him.

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