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Floating: A Future for Chronic Pain Management


Pain can be debilitating. Chronic pain can steal the days and make nights seem like they go on forever. A new study from Gallup-Healthways showed that 47% of those surveyed reported some type of chronic pain. The majority, 36% reported chronic neck and back pain. The pain cycle intensifies with stress and lack of sleep, which are caused by the pain itself. It is a vicious cycle that has the potential to lead to depression and hopelessness.

Sensory deprivation floatation, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, R.E.S.T. offers a non-toxic, healthy alternative to pain management.   Roderick A Borrie, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at South Oaks Hospital, Amityville, New York and Thomas H. Fine, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the Medical College of Ohio, have researched Floatation R.E.S.T. for chronic pain with some interesting results. They found that Floatation benefits chronic pain patients greatly. The majority of patients that utilized Flotation REST suffered from chronic pain for longer than six months and floated from one to 16 sessions. The most common causes of pain in this group of patients were from motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, or chronic illness. The participants reported a reduction in pain that averaged 31.3%!  The highest level of relief was reported in the upper back at 63.6%.

At Peace Floatation Spa participated in a study in 2011 which yielded similar results. The participants in this study were Fibromyalgia patients with chronic pain. The study showed an average of 33% reduction in pain and muscle tension and a 30% reduction in stress levels with an average of 2.5 days of post float pain relief. Both studies show promise for chronic pain suffers with the use of Floatation Therapy.

“[F]lotation REST can have an important role at several stages of the pain management process. By reducing both muscle tension and pain in a relatively short time and without effort on the part of the patient, flotation provides a dramatic demonstration of the benefits of relaxation. Relief is immediate and, although temporary, offers promise of further relief from REST and other relaxation-based strategies. Symptom reduction gained from flotation can increase a patient’s motivation and interest in the remainder of the therapy plan. Pain patients generally come into treatment feeling suspicious and skeptical, requiring a clear demonstration that they can be helped.”

Flotation REST in Applied Psychophysiology
Thomas H. Fine, M.A. and Roderick Borrie, Ph.D.

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6 responses to “Floating: A Future for Chronic Pain Management”

  1. Sammy Burke says:

    Wow, I didn’t know that floating can make such a difference in reducing chronic pain in the body. Donna, the stats that you mentioned are incredible and something for me to maybe show to my son. I say that because he’s been having a lot of back pain, and I guess it would be a good idea to introduce him to a float therapy session.

  2. It’s cool to think about the benefits of float therapy. Who would have thought that it could help those with chronic pain? If I can lower my back pain by 63.6%, I would be one happy camper!

  3. krystal s says:

    Interesting, I’ve never heard of this type of therapy. It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a big impact.

  4. Maggie says:

    It’s good to know that float pain relief can be a great way to help people with a chronic illness. It’s also amazing that there is a 33$ reduction in pain just from a couple days of this type of this type of therapy. It makes me wonder just how many more studies will performed on this kind of method. I think it should be the main way to treat pain.

  5. Donna, I had no idea that flotation could be so useful when it comes to pain management. My body has been been aching for months and it has become a major nuisance. I definitely think that we should consider finding a pain management service that could help to make it more manageable.

  6. James Pain says:

    Amazing! Didn’t expect float therapy works greatly in treating pain. Thanks for sharing.

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