Massage and chronic pain

Millions of people throughout the world battle chronic pain. While many think of it as just some mild achyness or soreness somewhere that comes and goes on a regular basis, those who live with it every day know it is far more than that. The pain can be debilitating and can take a toll on many other aspects of life.

People can experience a widespread pain that can affect numerous areas of the body, such as that associated with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Others may experience chronic pain more specifically isolated to an area, due to an injury or surgery.

No matter the cause, this persistent pain over months and years can affect so much more than just the physical body. Depression and chronic fatigue can often accompany the pain. Knowing that certain everyday activities are going to hurt has a major impact on a person’s mood. And the not knowing is just as powerful. Some days you may be able to go about your normal activities without much pain, and others are unbearable. Sometimes during those days with little to no pain, you’re still constantly thinking in the back of your mind “I’m going to pay for this tomorrow”.

That’s no way to live!

But unfortunately, the medical community still struggles with how to handle chronic pain. Other than surgical repairs to injuries, pain medications, injections, and the like, many chronic pain sufferers are left exasperated and defeated.

Did you know that massage therapy and other complementary forms of healthcare are becoming more and more prominent in the fight against chronic pain. For some, the idea of a person massaging their sore body is wonderful, and for other it’s terrifying. They don’t want to experience any more pain than they do already. But have no fear. Your massage is tailored to your needs completely. If that means doing the lightest form of pressure possible, that’s what you’ll get. If you want those sore areas “worked out”, that can be done too. Communication is key. If you want more or less pressure, let me know. If a certain area is too painful to touch that day, that’s fine too. It’s all about what you need, what you want, and what is best for you in the long run.

Massage therapy isn’t just a relaxation method for those suffering with chronic pain; there are actually numerous benefits that can possibly help to ease your pain, both short-term and long-term. Beyond the initial relaxing of the body and calming of the mind during a massage, the act of physical touch has been shown time and again in research to have amazing benefits. Stretches and range of motion exercises can help to ease stiffness in the joints and improve movement. Healthy, safe touch causes your body to release several hormones (oxytocin) and neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins) that dull the pain and make you feel good. At the same time, your nervous system is being stimulated in a way that can “reset” things, so to speak. You’re basically re-training your nerves in how to perceive touch and pain – something that is theorised to be at the heart of chronic pain.

Patterns that have been repeated for a long time will need to be retrained to create new, healthy ones. Be prepared that massage treatments are a process not one time wonder, so don’t be discouraged when it’s only a small improvement after your first visit. It’s similar to starting a process of loosing weight… you are not going to do it after one training session!

If you’re suffering from chronic pain, or know someone who is, let’s see if massage therapy would be a good addition to your current treatment plan.