Finding pain relief without meds

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WEST STOCKBRIDGE — Karden Rabin saw 20 years go by as his mom, Samantha, used prescription medication to manage pain.

But he said the truth was she wasn't managing.

"She was masking her back pain," from a double spinal fusion, he said. "She became ever more dependent on a kaleidoscope of drugs which eventually killed her."

Ten years later, Rabin, the owner of Boundless, has centered his professional life on providing holistic therapies to clients and teaching them how to manage, and he said in some cases eliminate their pain without drugs.

Now Rabin and colleagues Kelly Clady-Giramma and Meg Agnew have developed a series of classes meant to help people manage their pain without prescription opioids.

"We put our heads together and created a line-up of group-based therapies on a sliding fee scale to make it as accessible and affordable as possible," Rabin said.

This summer Boundless worked with Volunteers in Medicine, Berkshire Health Systems and other care providers on a grant funded pilot program that provided free integrative pain management treatment to patients with chronic pain and who struggled with opioid use.

But Rabin said he didn't want to stop the work just because the grant had run out.

"I realized patients needed ongoing access to the integrative treatments," he said. And he noticed the medical community also wanted a place to send its patients.

Ann McDonald, Berkshire Health Systems nursing director of oncology and a registered nurse, said it welcomed working with Boundless.

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"We are happy to refer chronic pain patients when it would be an appropriate option to help alleviate their health issues," she wrote in an email.

The classes are mentastics, community acupuncture and a pain therapy technique called "SMART," which stands for self-massage, movement and relaxation training.

All the classes are group based.

Community acupuncture takes place with as many as seven patients sitting in zero-gravity chairs. He said the acupuncture can be used to treat stress, cravings, insomnia and physical pain.

In SMART, participants use foam rollers and other therapeutic tools to self-massage and treat pain.

When a reporter tried a class, she was so relaxed after it she called a friend to drive her home.

Rabin described Mentastics as a process that uses guided visualizations and gentle movements to help people become more self-aware and reduce pain.

He said the classes are not only meant for people struggling with opioid use. He said they are open to anyone.

"Taking advantage of these affordable treatments and classes are a very effective way of preventing pain, lowering stress, increasing energy and improving overall health," he said.

Reach staff writer Carrie Saldo at 413-496-6221 or @carriesaldo


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