Loraine Lovejoy-Evans is a hands-on healer, literally, in her specialty of treating people with inflammation from fibromyalgia. The disorder is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Lovejoy-Evans employs the knowledge of physiology and anatomy she gained in earning a doctorate in physical therapy plus more than a decade of treating patients as Independence Physical Therapy in Carlsborg. She treats about 40 patients a day for a variety of inflammatory and musculoskeletal problems.
“I look at fibromyalgia as a combination of a few different problems,” Lovejoy-Evans said from her cozy and casual waiting area. “The No. 1 problem is swelling of the lower extremities, which comes on in puberty, oftentimes as pain in the legs.”
What’s brushed off as “growing pains” really is inflammation in the joints and soft tissue and poor alignment, she said. “Pain is a gift — it’s the body’s way of saying there’s something wrong here.”
Lovejoy-Evans assesses patients with and without a diagnosis of fibromyalgia for pain in at least 11 of 18 tender points, including, but not limited to back of the head, between the shoulder blades, top of the shoulders, front sides of the neck, upper chest, outer elbows, upper hips, sides of the hips and inner knees. She also noted that inflamed soft tissue feels spongy and not firm. Fibromyalgia is an often debilitating and lifelong disorder.
“First I teach patients to not overuse their muscles and joints and to listen to their bodies better by stopping activities that cause pain,” Lovejoy-Evans said. “And I teach them alignment techniques to help joints fit back together more effectively. It’s an osteopathic technique called strain and counter strain.”
She developed her own at-home program for patients called Releasing Joint Restriction and said through her work and the patient’s, some relief comes in about two weeks.
“Typically the pain decreases and then I start them on a strengthening program. The next step is addressing the swelling problem with manual lymphatic drainage massage and the use of compression stockings they wear during the day,” she said.
The lymph system works in conjunction with the vascular system to collect and transport tissue fluids from the intercellular spaces in all the tissues of the body, back to the veins in the blood system.
Lovejoy-Evans treats both lipedema and lymphodema, the former a disorder of the fat tissue which causes the lymph system to go into overdrive; and the latter an obstruction in the lymph system. Both lead to fluid pooling and swelling in the soft tissues, so Lovejoy-Evans uses decongestive massage.
“This is pretty radical,” she said, “and I teach people how to do it and have them do it throughout the day.
Often they can go off their meds and are able to sleep and work. The whole treatment approach takes about two months. Nothing makes me happier than to have patients treat their symptoms on their own and get better.”
Call 693-6101 for an appointment.