Johanna Ramos, 54, is jolted when she feels a sharp pain at the back of her neck. Soon, the pain snakes down her left arm. Worried that it might be a heart attack, she rushes to the emergency room of a well-known hospital in Alabang where she undergoes an electrocardiogram (ECG) test. When her ECG results come in, she exhales with relief. Her ECG was normal—the problem was not her heart.
“C-5 nerve impingement,” her doctor declared. It was not her heart, but rather, a pinched nerve along her nape that was causing the pain. Seeking relief, Johanna tried all sorts of treatment, including chiropractic manipulation and myotherapy, but unfortunately, they only served to lessen the pain. The excruciating pain continued, and so did her anxiety-laden visits to the ER.
Four long years after, Johanna was still suffering and looking for relief from her nerve impingement. One day, she heard ATHAG President Dr. Bibiano Fajardo talking about traditional Hilot healing on the radio, and she was intrigued. She scheduled an appointment to try traditional Hilot as treatment for her pinched nerve.
“The day after my Hilot session, there was still a bit of pain,” Johanna recalls. “But the following day, the pain was completely gone! It was as if I was just making it up,” she adds with amazement. “It has now been three weeks since my Hilot session, and the pain hasn’t returned. This is the longest period of time that I’ve been pain-free.”
How does a nerve get pinched?
Dr. Bibiano “Boy” Fajardo, a doctor of alternative medicine and albularyo-mentor of the manghihilot who relieved Johanna’s pinched nerve, explains that a common cause of pinched nerve is injury to the muscles.
“Your muscles have their own capacities and limitations,” explains Dr. Fajardo. “When you go beyond these limitations—for example, when you lift a weight that is too heavy for you, or you stretch your arm or leg out too far, or even, when you sleep in a “wrong” position—the concerned muscles are strained, and the nerves within them get affected.”
“Often,” Dr. Fajardo continues,” the person does not realize the damage immediately because he does not feel it. So he goes on using and straining the affected muscles until eventually, they begin to harden. When the muscles stiffen up, the nerve gets pinched, causing excruciating pain.”
In Johanna’s case, she remembers an episode while gardening which could have been the cause for her pinched nerve.
What to do for pinched nerves
So if your nerve gets pinched, what should you do?
First, Dr. Fajardo recommends that the muscles should be rested, and care should be taken so as not to cause any further damage. He also warns people not to put ice or anything cold on the affected areas, because this would cause the muscles to contract, and further pinch the nerve.
To release the pinched nerve, Dr. Fajardo advises seeking out a skilled and experienced manghihilot (the traditional one, not a spa therapist!) , who would be able to determine which specific muscles are affected and coax them back into their proper alignment. To facilitate the healing process, Dr. Fajardo advises taking either a tuba-tuba or ikmo leaf, putting on a bit of coconut oil on it, heating it, and applying it as a poultice on the affected area overnight.
“When the muscles are realigned through Hilot,” Dr. Fajardo explains, “there will be a healing crisis, accompanied by some pain and soreness. But in a few days, this will be resolved, and you will be pain-free.”
Preventing pinched nerves
As with any health problem, however, the best way to go when it comes to pinched nerves is still prevention. “Be aware of your body,” counsels Dr. Fajardo. “Know your physical limits and respect them. And of course, keep your muscles strong and flexible by exercising regularly.”
But if despite your best efforts you still get a nerve impingement, just keep in mind that you can do what Johanna did— turn to traditional Hilot for lasting relief and healing.
Do you have a pinched nerve and want to try traditional Hilot? Please call the Association of Traditional Health Aid Givers Philippines, Inc. (ATHAG) at (0922) 884 4568 or (02) 267 4012 to schedule an appointment.