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Can Massage Help Chronic Pain?

Pain is a discomfort or physical suffering caused by an injury or illness. Pain is subjective, meaning each person perceives pain in their own way; intensity, frequency, duration, sensation, and so on. Acute pain often results from an injury, such as a broken bone or ankle sprain. This type of pain usually goes away after the injured area heals. Chronic pain is different, it persists for weeks, months, and sometimes years, even in the absence of an initial acute injury. Some common complaints of chronic pain include low back pain/sciatica, arthritis pain, tension headaches/migraines, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, and neck and shoulder pain.

Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans, more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. The impact on one’s quality of life can range from depression, lack of sleep, inability to concentrate, suppressed immune system, and decreased energy levels. Dealing with chronic pain can be life changing. Performing daily activities are often too much to bear for some people, and can lead to employment medical leave of absence, disability or changing careers altogether. Many people lose wages because work productivity decreases and often excessive absenteeism becomes a problem.

Treating chronic pain can be a never ending trial and error game. Some people choose to take painkillers or cortisone shots to manage their pain, others may try acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic or massage. Adjunct therapies may include ultrasound, electric muscle stimulation, topical analgesics (pain killing creams), or hydrotherapy. And as a last resort, some turn to surgery.

Massage therapy is becoming widely accepted in the medical community, making it an effective and integrative part of any healthcare regimen. Massage is not an alternative to conventional pain management treatments, as it is rarely used as the main treatment for pain, but more often as an additional source to support the effects of other therapies. I work with physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors, and other healthcare professionals to make sure my clients are getting soft tissue work that complements and helps speed their other therapy processes along.

So how can massage help? Most healthcare providers will do some limited soft tissue manipulation, maybe a brief warm up of the tissues, but a massage therapist dedicates an entire session working on the fascial adhesions, trigger points and taut muscle bands that can cause chronic pain. This results in many potential benefits for chronic pain sufferers that include; deepened relaxation to aid restful sleep, increased blood flow to help heal the tissue with fresh oxygen and nutrients, increased endorphins to combat stress, reduced spasms and cramping of overactive muscles, reduced fascial adhesions and scar tissue that can create painful fascial restrictions, increased range of motion and joint flexibility, and ultimately provide relief from painful symptoms.

Types of massage I offer that chronic pain sufferers can benefit from include; Swedish Massage, a gentle and relaxing massage that uses lighter pressure; Neuromuscular Therapy, also known as trigger point therapy, that helps to release trigger points in taut bands of muscle; Myofascial Massage, helpful for releasing tightness and pain in the fascia; PNF Stretching, used to increase flexibility it involves both contracting and stretching the targeted muscle group to aid in range of motion; Cupping Therapy, to aid in circulation, enhance relaxation and loosen tissue adhesions; Orthopedic Massage; to reduce pain and musculoskeletal dysfunction by restoring structural balance throughout the body with a variety of techniques. I combine these techniques to make it a unique session designed just for you and your needs. Depending on the severity of the condition, people may need to come for treatments more regularly in the beginning. Once pain reduction is achieved and mobility and function is restored, a less frequent maintenance program of Therapeutic Wellness Massage is followed to help maintain these results.

My own experience with years of chronic pain has led me to work with people who search everywhere and have tried everything just to get the slightest relief. I have worked with thousands of people who experience pain ranging from sciatica and headaches to personal injuries and surgery recovery. Whether you're an athlete managing a sports injury, or you're suffering from an occupation related repetitive motion injury, pain reduction can be achieved through Orthopedic and Therapeutic Wellness Massage. I do accept Health Savings Account (HSA) and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) cards.

To make an appointment or for a consultation, please visit my website at, or visit my Facebook page at @integrativeorthopedic.

Source: The American Academy of Pain Medicine. Disclaimer: Information in this article is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other medical professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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