Relaxation is usually used in conjunction with other treatment modalities and can take on a number of forms such as spiritual or non-spiritual meditation, progressive relaxation or muscular contraction and relaxation, even imagery. Typically Relaxation would count as an "Alternative" treatment and recommended to be used along side traditional medical management as opposed to on its own
One way in which relaxation therapy may work is to reduce the effect of stress on the body restoring normal equilibrium within the body systems. At its most basic level, when under stress your body enters a fight or flight mechanism and a number of biochemical changes occur. Heart-rate, blood pressure increases, blood vessels narrow as well as several hormone responses such as adrenaline and cortisol as well as the neurotransmitter serotonin all increasing.
These responses are essential in the short term but when these responses (as well as others) prolong and become chronic several damaging consequences occur. These may be fatigue, hypertension, anxiety, suppression of the immune system, reduction of memory and increase in body fat all of which have knock-on consequences elsewhere in the body
Regardless of the proposed mechanisms of effect, the effect on the patients psyche can be large enough to prove the treatment worthwhile. It is also important to consider the effect of a placebo treatment on pain. However studies have proven relaxation to reduce pain level more often than not in conjunction with another modality.
- Relief of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain
- Reduced anxiety
- Feeling of Depression
- Decreased frequency of migranes
- Heart Disease (Lowers blood pressure and heart rate)
- Induces sleep (aids in the management of chronic insomniac patients
- Alleviates nausea