News about Well+Able and massage therapy, pregnancy, running, and health

Our Aging Population: Mobility, Wellness and Independence

What a Great Weekend!

We are always looking at increasing our skills and knowledge to better serve our patients. On May 5th, Marcy and Mike attended the sold-out RMTBC symposium: Our Aging Population: Mobility, Wellness and Independence. 

Registration at the beautiful Anvil Centre in New West

Registration at the beautiful Anvil Centre in New West

After a rousing First Nations welcome by Coastal Wolfpack, Isobel Mackenzie, B.C. Seniors Advocate started off the day with a fascinating, in depth look at the demographics and conditions of todays' seniors population. Her talk was a great start to the days theme that Massage Therapy can play a key role in keeping mobility and wellness in seniors thus helping you keep your independence as you age. 

The first keynote address was Dr. Lorimer Moseley, one of the most respected pain researchers in the study of pain. Dr. Moseley is a fantastic presenter. He has been a strong promoter in giving people with persistent pain more tools to manage their pain.  

 The second Keynote was with Dr. Karim Khan who is a MD at UBC as well as the editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. He gave a great talk on how diet and exercise is very strong medicine in preventing illness. The day ended with an esteemed panel of Andrew Nemeth, Yvonne Poulin and Dr. John Sloan who provided tremendous information on their work with seniors.

2018 speaker Kahn.jpg

simple lifestyle modulators: diet, exercise, avoidance of smoking and excess alcohol, together with moderate physical activity reduce colorectal cancer by 50%


- Karim Kahn

From left: Gordon MacDonald, Peter Behr RMT, Yvonne Poulin RMT, Dr. John Sloan, Andrew Nemeth RMT.

From left: Gordon MacDonald, Peter Behr RMT, Yvonne Poulin RMT, Dr. John Sloan,
Andrew Nemeth RMT.

Mike catching up with colleagues

Mike catching up with colleagues

We had a fun and informative Saturday! Thanks to the RMTBC who always put on a world class symposium every year. Also, I would like to thank them for some of the photos and content of this post. 

Get a Grip on Osteoarthritis

By: Michael Reoch, RMT

The online medical dictionary defines Osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative joint disease (DJD), as a progressive disorder of the joints caused by gradual loss of cartilage and resulting in the development of bony spurs and cysts at the margins of the joints. The name osteoarthritis comes from three Greek words meaning bone, joint, and inflammation(1)

The common perception is that OA is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage in the joint. Eventually this cartilage is worn down and we get a “bone on bone” situation that we are told is very painful (2). Now, there are new ideas emerging on what helps to cause OA and what its relationship is to painful experiences (3).
Instead of looking at OA as your cause of chronic pain, it may be that it is the chronic pain that comes first(4)(3). Lets say you get a RSI (repetitive strain injury) from doing a task without rest, such as using a mouse too often (5)(6). This injury will cause long-term inflammation chemicals such as a group called cytokines to hang out in the area where pain is felt. Over time these inflammation chemicals may cause the tissues in the area to degenerate or break down(7)(8). This is first felt as
achiness accompanied with stiffness in movement, usually after waking up in the morning(2). Over time the OA has a central nervous system component(3). What that means is the brain and spinal chord play a major role in the pain you feel. There is an increase in cytokines in the spinal chord, which start to inhibit our natural pain dampening ability(7)(9). Also, some brain regions may have glitches in processing the signals between it and the painful joint(10). Studies show people with OA are more likely to feel pain with less provocation not just in the involved joint(s) but in areas away from the joint(s)(11)(3). There are also studies coming out that are showing that joint surgery for knee arthritis is no better than placebo surgery(12)!

The take home message is that joint damage is a poor indicator for how much pain you actually feel.

If you feel pain in an area from doing repetitive tasks you should make an effort to permanently decrease that pain: Ask your RMT for help. If you already have bony changes from OA seeing a RMT should be part of your pain management program. This program should involve tweaks to make you activities easier, exercises and massage therapy as well as any medications your doctor may prescribe. To better understand this new way of viewing OA you can watch this video or this interesting one that uses mirrors and video tricks to decrease OA pain!



1.             osteoarthritis - definition of osteoarthritis in the Medical dictionary - by the Free Online Medical Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. [Internet]. [cited 2014 Mar 4]. Available from:


2.             Osteoarthritis Symptoms and Causes | Information about Osteoarthritis Diagnosis [Internet]. [cited 2014 Mar 4]. Available from:


3.             Lee AS, Ellman MB, Yan D, Kroin JS, Cole BJ, van Wijnen AJ, et al. A current review of molecular mechanisms regarding osteoarthritis and pain. Gene [Internet]. 2013 Sep 25 [cited 2014 Jan 21];527(2):440–7. Available from:


4.             Brandt KD, Radin EL, Dieppe PA, van de Putte L. Yet more evidence that osteoarthritis is not a cartilage disease. Ann Rheum Dis [Internet]. 2006 Oct 1 [cited 2014 Jan 21];65(10):1261–4. Available from:


5.             Van Tulder M, Malmivaara A, Koes B. Repetitive strain injury. Lancet [Internet]. 2007 May 26 [cited 2014 Mar 4];369(9575):1815–22. Available from:


6.             Ratzlaff CR, Gillies JH, Koehoorn MW. Work-related repetitive strain injury and leisure-time physical activity. Arthritis Rheum [Internet]. 2007 Apr 15 [cited 2014 Feb 27];57(3):495–500. Available from:


7.             Fernandes JC, Martel-Pelletier J, Pelletier J-P. The role of cytokines in osteoarthritis pathophysiology. Biorheology [Internet]. 2002 Jan [cited 2014 Feb 22];39(1-2):237–46. Available from:


8.             Al-Shatti T, Barr AE, Safadi FF, Amin M, Barbe MF. Increase in inflammatory cytokines in median nerves in a rat model of repetitive motion injury. J Neuroimmunol [Internet]. 2005 Oct [cited 2014 Mar 4];167(1-2):13–22. Available from:


9.             Elliott MB, Barr AE, Kietrys DM, Al-Shatti T, Amin M, Barbe MF. Peripheral neuritis and increased spinal cord neurochemicals are induced in a model of repetitive motion injury with low force and repetition exposure. Brain Res [Internet]. 2008;1218:103–13. Available from:


10.             Nijs J, Van Houdenhove B. From acute musculoskeletal pain to chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia: application of pain neurophysiology in manual therapy practice. Man Ther [Internet]. 2009 Feb [cited 2012 Aug 3];14(1):3–12. Available from:


11. <span>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>Full Text: Recent Approaches to Understanding Osteoarthritis Pain [Internet]. [cited 2014 Mar 4]. Available from:


12.            Moseley JB, Wray NP, Kuykendall D, Willis K, Landon G. Arthroscopic Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial: Results of a Pilot Study. Am J Sports Med [Internet]. 1996 Jan 1 [cited 2014 Mar 4];24(1):28–34. Available from:





What is DNM? By: Michael Reoch, RMT

The term DNM Stands for Dermo (skin) Neuro (nervous system) Modulation (a change from one state to another). It is a method of manual therapy/massage therapy used to change the state of the nervous system from a painful hyperactive state to a less painful and reactive one through the skin receptors. Diane Jacobs, a Canadian PT with 40 years experience developed DNM as a way to better treat people with chronic and persistent pain. I have had the lucky pleasure to directly learn from and work with Diane over the last four years.
She explains the background of the method:


    The nervous system is comprised of 72 km of nerves, a brain 5 times bigger than it needs to be to run a critter our size. Even with all this length, even with the huge brain, it's tiny, only 2% of the whole body, but because it's busy 24/7, even when we're asleep, and because it runs all operations, it sucks up an amazing 20% (!) of all available oxygen and glucose, all the time, at speeds of about 270 miles per hour, so it's a big energy suck. You are part of it. It's not part of 'you' the way we usually think of our body parts. You are part of it. 'You' are the human bit in there, but most of it we have in common with all the other critters out there that have vertebrate nervous systems. It runs 'you'. It looks after 'you'. It keeps 'you' alive. It puts 'you' to sleep at night so it can do other things, but it keeps your heart beating and your lungs working, right? It's your survival machine and your threat detector. It wakes 'you' up in the morning because it needs you to get it something to eat. It never shuts off! It's your operating system. It's an old evolved thing and some parts are really old while other parts are quite new and they're all hooked together and sometimes it can get itself into a glitch. Usually that's all that's the matter. So, we do a systems check and help it fix itself. 
This amazing nervous system goes all the way from the brain to the skin and back. There are Billions of sensors in our skin. On average sensors are one to two cells apart. These sensors tell our brain what is happening in the world around us, what is happening within us and what is happening to us. There are many different sensors and each have specific rolls. There are sensors for just heat others for just cold, there are sensors for just heavy pressure others for light pressure, ones for quick stretch others for slow stretch and so on...


DNM is a method of manual care that puts the patient and their needs first. Instead of operating a recipe treatment the treatment is an interaction between the patient and the therapist. We work together to find the areas that need attention and remove the tenderness and pain felt in that area. The focus is on changing the signaling within the nervous system to decrease your pain. Pain does not happen in the muscles and other tissue but in the nervous system itself; therefore, weather or not the area of pain is damaged we can reduce that pain with DNM.
The manual part of DNM is to change the input signaling from some of these receptors to help the brain get a better picture of what is happening to/in the body. What we want to do is show the Brain that the area where you feel pain is not under the threat that the brain perceives it to be in. 

Some effects of an effective DNM treatment:

You will get sleepy
You will have less swelling/inflammation after
You will feel warming, an ease of movement, and a softening of hardened muscles
Your pain relief will continue throughout the day of the treatment and will usually peak 72 hours after the treatment.

See it in action