Section: Chronic Pain
Becci Parsons Talks about Reclaiming Her Life from Neuropathy
Ira Feinstein: How did you become interested in exploring how the Feldenkrais Method® can help those living with neuropathy?

Becci Parsons: I’m a Feldenkrais® practitioner living with neuropathy.

Over the course of my active life, I've had a number of disc injuries. My original disc herniation was in 1992, a year after I became a Feldenkrais practitioner. I managed pretty well for a few years, largely because of what I learned during my professional Feldenkrais training. When my disc fragmented and the fragments traveled and compressed my spine nerve root, which innervated my foot, surgery became a necessity.

After my first spine surgery in 1997, I had partial foot drop and a little bit of numbness. My balance on my right side was terrible. If I caught my heel on a rock or uneven surface, I fell. As a former professional dancer, this was pretty devastating to me. I used to be able to, jump, turn on a dime and point my foot, but after that injury and surgery, I had muscle weakness and loss of motor control.

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Peripheral Neuropathy, Balance, and Falling
Can you explain how skin affects balance?

It is commonly known that loss of joint range of motion in the foot, ankle, hip, and spine can impact one’s balance, especially when trying to walk across an uneven parking lot, the backyard, down a gravel driveway or climbing up the stairs. But how can the skin on your lower leg impact balance?

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Balance and Neuropathy Exercise
Try this to restore sensation to your feet, improve weight shift from one leg to the other, and allow the ground reaction force to go through you.

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Flexion, Foundation, and Feet
This recorded Awareness Through Movement® lesson begins with a three-minute talk about what the Feldenkrais Method® is (and isn't) and how with the Method, our movements are always in service of awareness--even when they resemble traditional exercise.

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Freeing the Jaw
The upper jaw, part of the cranium, connects most intimately with the spine and back of the body. Every movement the upper jaw makes reverberates through the spine. But we will explore that a bit more in another lesson.

The lower jaw (a.k.a. the mandible) connects most intimately with your body-core, rib basket, and sternum. Imagine this glorious network of soft tissue that connects the jaw to the clavicle (a.k.a. collar bones), sternum (a.k.a. breastbone), hyoid bone, the upper two ribs, and so much more.

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Musician's “Magic Zone”
I was diagnosed with Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder while studying the clarinet during my sophomore year at the University of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music. I felt radiating pain whenever I played my instrument and feared that my future as a musician would be compromised. Wind instrumentalists, violinists, violists, and singers produce sound or hold their instrument by using their jaw and face. TMJ disorder is a common injury for musicians and can be debilitating for professionals.

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Release your Jaw Today
Watch this short video and learn how to release your jaw!

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The Neck Bones are Connected to the Head Bones
Allison* had been living with neck pain for ten years by the time she arrived for her first Functional Integration® lesson with me. Bright-eyed and astute, Allison knew that there was a direct correlation between her daily stress level and the amount of neck pain she experienced. She also declared that she held herself rigidly, a common bodily response when confronted with difficult circumstances and must continue to attend to life’s daily demands. We find a way to “hold it together,” right?

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Learning to Minimize Chronic Pain
The mere thought of pain can fill us with dread. Actual pain can dominate every part of our lives and prevent us from getting adequate rest. So, if we’re unfortunate enough to suffer from acute or chronic pain, how do we get on with our active lives and find satisfaction?

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Stress-Free Exercise for People With Arthritis
Many people with arthritis find it challenging to get enough exercise. You know that it is important, and you know that you’ve got to keep moving to maintain joint health. But as much as you might like to run a marathon, the fact is, many physical activities cause discomfort. How can you enjoy doing something that exacerbates your arthritis symptoms instead of making them better?

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Moving Pain Free
This interview was originally published on April 13, 2015 on Aches and Gains, America's First Radio Show Dedicated to Overcoming Pain with Dr. Paul Christo.

If you have musculoskeletal pain, especially in the neck or low back, headaches, or arthritis then consider this distinctive approach to pain relief...

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Why toaster ovens don't get fibromyalgia
As a Feldenkrais practitioner, I often work with people who have chronic conditions and unexplained pain. They come from different walks of life. They have different personal histories and life experiences. They have different strengths and weaknesses and different temperaments and moods. They are different. Their pain is different. And yet the first words they speak are often the same: "I've tried everything and nothing helps." Sometimes it's as if I'm being offered a fair warning, "Don't feel badly if what you do doesn't work. Nothing does." Other times, I feel as if I'm being dared to make any difference at all. Always present is the hesitant hope that the Feldenkrais Method will be the something that finally helps.

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Which Side are You On?
In recent studies regarding the unfortunate condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), persons with abnormal temperature changes in the affected limb (the side with the problems) can create the same changes in the unaffected limb when it is placed on the affected side. That's right, a healthy limb placed on the side of the body occupied by the difficulty can experience unhealthy changes. Change to the brain's perception of the limbs, such as which side of space it occupies, affects symptoms such as pain with movement, or this example of temperature change.

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On the Other Hand
I used to work in a pain clinic with many people recovering or living with the results of horrendous injuries. One day a woman came in who had had her right hand violently amputated while working in a dangerous blue collar job. The accident had occurred almost a year before, yet she was still experiencing pain in her right shoulder and neck. She assumed, as did her doctors, it was from nerve damage. The fact that the pain practically resolved in a short four or five Feldenkrais sessions proved otherwise. Her pain was not from nerve damage, but from the protective manner in which she had locked her shoulder after the injury. It was a natural behavior and because she was a quick study she was soon functioning pain free.