Pain medicine developed from the initial desire to define the specific functionalities of the human body which play a role in the origination and perception of pain. The German Association for Pain Therapy (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schmerztherapie) claims that approx. 15 million people suffer from constant pain. The treatment of pain patients is one of the most expensive areas of the healthcare system.
Both origination of pain and individual perception of pain are related to the degree of relaxation in the muscles and to the general degree of stress in the nervous system. Besides treating pain symptoms through medication (by prescribing pain killers), using specific methods to create states of relaxation has meanwhile become an established practice. Mental techniques (e.g. auto-suggestion, autogenic-training) or yoga, for example, can help create mental and physical relaxation.
Purely physiological relaxation methods have also been scientifically researched: floating has both an effect on the individual and subjective perception of pain as also on the autonomic nervous system, the system of pathways which transport pain impulses. A radical reduction of exterior sensory stimuli reduces stimulation of the nervous system so perceivably that overstimulation is reduced and pain is perceived as being less intense.
Relaxation and the reduction of sensory stimuli contribute to an increase in the release of endorphins and can thus be linked to pain relief also at bio-chemical level. A higher level of natural opiates in the blood of test persons was reliably tested in various examinations.
Floating in a saturated saline solution enables the human body to take a position which is unlike being in a bed, a waterbed, a bathtub or lying on any other surface. This particular position is characterized by the following:
- the spine is completely straight
- individual vertebrae are not functional twisted
- all muscle groups (in particular the muscles of the neck) can relax simultaneously
- all joints, intervertebral discs, ligaments and bones are relieved at the same time
Hereby acute and chronic tension is released and slipped discs, joint pains, sciatica, lumbago, pulled muscles or sprains improve. In particular chronic back pain, which has become the most widespread and common complaint can be relieved by floating in a saturated saline solution. 80% of the German population suffers from backache and relieving the spine by floating is a very simple yet extremely effective method to ease pain.
Backache has become very widespread in the past years. Nearly half the population in western industrial countries complains of lasting or recurring back pain. Another 30% admit having suffered from back pain in the last two years. With this, approximately 80% of the population is affected by pain stemming from the spine. Chronic back pain is, next to heart disease, one of the most common reasons for inability to work and premature pension.
Nearly all types of back pain originate in the spine. The spine carries the weight of the torso and has to therefore adapt to pressure in various situations. Misalignment, one-sided strain, or age-related wear and tear often lead to chronic pain. The spine is divided into three major sections:
- cervical spine
- thoracic spine
- lumbar spine
Each section is associated with distinct problems and kinds of pain.
Although the cervical spine carries the least amount of weight, blockages in the joints often lead to pain. When suspended in a saturated saline solution bath, the vertebrae lie free from any pressure or contortions and are thus able to regenerate in a completely new way. The pain-relieving effect of this treatment is very plausible.
The thoracic spine is less often a source of pain, but pain can often be very intense. The ribs are attached to the spine over joints and it is here that incorrect movement or accidents can lead to problems. Experience has shown that here too, the healing process of bruising, breaks or sprains is accelerated when the thoracic spine is not weighed down by gravity and lies in a completely relaxed position.
Most cases of back pain originate in the lowest section of the spine, as it carries the entire weight of the torso. The vertebral bodies carrying this weight are smaller than those in the other sections of the spine and are exposed to tremendous stress when we are in an upright position. The inter-vertebral discs, which act as the spine’s shock absorbing system, lose a portion of their fluid every day. The fluid in the discs is replenished at night when we lie down. The degree to which the discs are replenished diminishes as we grow older or if the spine is subject to a lot of stress and the inter-vertebral disks slowly shrink. Muscle tension decreases and the lumbar spine arches forward. This leads to chronic back pain, which in some cases can seriously impede the person’s range of motion. Floating counteracts the above mentioned processes by enabling inter-vertebral disks to regenerate and by slowing down spinal deformation processes. It can therefore supplement generally accepted forms of treatment or training aimed at strengthening back muscles.
Slipped discs are often associated with the lumbar spine. When a disc is misaligned, lumbar tissue can press against the spinal nerves causing intense pain that may even radiate down into the legs, it may irritate the nerves or cause other symptoms. Floating again can be used as a supportive post-operational therapy for example. It is quite obvious even to the medical layperson that the spine is relieved when the vertebrae can rest without being twisted or subject to pressure. Floating in a saturated saline solution can serve as a valuable supplement to physiotherapeutical and physical therapies to alleviate pain.