Case Report Concludes That Flotation Therapy in Conjunction with Spinal Manipulation Reduces Pain to 0% in 4 Weeks

Pain management in osteopathic medicine: The efficacy of flotation

REST  as an adjunct to spinal manipulation for acute non-specific low

back pain. A case report

(The Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, 2001 ; 4(1): 25-30)

The above article is a case study in which a 26 year-old female who works as a full-time registered
nurse presented in an osteopathic clinic complaining of acute lower back pain.  Using a visual analogue pain scale, she rated her pain score at 10% prior to any treatment.

The patient was treated 4 times, each one week apart using the a combination of both spinal manipulation techniques and flotation therapy.

After her third session, the patients reports herself to be pain free. In fact she doesn’t even need the forth appointment with the osteopath.

This study is close to my heart as I have been a nurse for 10 years and see so many of my colleagues suffering with lower back and whilst this case study does only look at the effects of flotation therapy for one patient (therefore making it it difficult to rationally conclude that all my colleagues would have the same experience.) I think, that if it were me with the constant lower back pain, it would be enough to persuade me to give it it a try.

“There are several different theories on the beneficial effects of FR (flotation therapy). One is based on neuroendocrine activity. Research has indicated that FR decreases the levels of stress-related neurochemicals, such as nor-adrenaline, adrenaline, adrenocorticotrophin and cortisol. 45, 46 Preliminary studies have also shown that the opiate antagonist, naloxone, inhibits the mild euphoria normally associated with FR. It has been hypothesised that the euphoria associated with FR may be the result of increased production of endogenous opioids (endorphins) or the result of increased sensitivity of opioid receptors. 47 Endorphins are a powerful analgesic in humans.48 FR has been shown to induce deep relaxation. 37, 49. 50 Relaxation decreases muscle tension/hypertonicity and sympathetic neural output. TM 52 This leads to greater peripheral blood flow due to vasodilation 28 and subsequent increases in tissue perfusion of areas previously in a state of relative hypoxia and haemostasis.
It has been reported “… 90% of all the activity affecting the central nervous system is related to gravity. ”53 Floating in water distributes the effects of gravity over the greatest possible area therefore decreasing central nervous system (CNS) stimulation. Theoretically, this makes available large amounts of energy otherwise utilised by the CNS and musculoskeletal system in handling the effects of gravity on the body, to contribute to other matters of mind, spirit and an increased awareness of internal states. This may potentiate homeostatic mechanisms. Sniffen et al hypothesised that the magnesium in the Epsom Salts solution is a trans-cutaneous muscle relaxant, though this is yet to be tested.” Rogan et al, 2001




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