Pain Management: How Can Massage Help?
Heidi Overman, Licensed Massage Therapist
Pain—It will disrupt your day. Your week. Your month. Your retirement years.
But what can you do? A lifetime of drugs? Surgeries? Shots? How about regular massage? Yes, regular massage can help with muscular pain management.
Have you ever had a doctor tell you that your pain is muscular, then they prescribe some pain medication? Or have you gone to a physical therapist, or been given a shot? They rarely have you see a massage therapist; however, most massage therapists are trained in kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, pathology, and more. Massage therapists are trained in methods that specifically address muscular pain.
Many of my clients come in complaining and at the end of their rope. They are in pain. They don’t want surgery, the physical therapy worked for a while or didn’t help, pain meds have other side effects, and shots aren’t working, and they can only have them once every few months.
There are many reasons why massage helps reduce pain. More importantly, regular massage is preventive and can even help in preventing pain from returning.
Why is massage therapy effective in pain relief and management?
Below are just a few reasons why you would see a massage therapist for pain management:
* Massage therapists work with muscle fibers to “reteach” them how to release and relax.
* Massage therapy helps “break” the muscle patterns and repetitive motion issues.
* Massage therapy helps to “close the pain gate” by stimulating competing nerve fibers and impeding pain messages to and from the brain.
* During a massage, muscle temperature increases due to an increase in blood flow. When muscle temperature increases, the elasticity and flexibility of tissues increase and muscles are able to loosen and stretch.
* When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. An increase of muscle tension is a reflex reaction to stress, the body’s way of guarding against injury or pain. Stress becomes a physical and mental effect that leads to chronic pain in the body. Massage reduces stress.
* Muscular injuries (whiplash, strain, sprain, pulled muscle, crick) are best helped by muscular modalities. Trigger point release, MFT, etc., can be highly effective.
Pain can be very disruptive to your life. You want to be active and enjoy your life. Regular massage can help make that happen. Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly massage will help train those muscles, which can help in the healing process and lead to pain relief. Be patient. It is a modality that takes time and consistency, but with that, my clients have had great success in relieving chronic pain and continuing to prevent it from coming back!
If you are interested in a therapeutic massage, please call MEND for an appointment at 520-771-1514. Our website is www.mymendingplace.com, and we’re located at MEND Therapeutic Massage and Restorative Skincare, 15920 N. Oracle Road, Suite 170, Tucson, AZ 85739 (next to the Golden Goose Thrift Shop).
What’s the Best Treatment for Lower Back Pain?
Craig W. Brue, D.C.
Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. The American Chiropractic Association confirms that 80% of the population will experience back problems at some time in their lives. This article will help you understand your treatment options for lower back pain.
First, what causes lower back pain? The most common cause is overuse. Just like your legs get tired when you walk too much, your lower back may ache after increased activities. Simple back strain may be treated with rest, ice, and avoiding the activity that caused the problem. Anti-inflammatory medications may provide temporary relief for simple backache.
However, recurring lower back problems may require professional help. Chronic back pain is associated with spinal misalignment, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis (pinching and narrowing of nerve openings), sacroiliac syndrome, spondylolisthesis, osteoporosis, disc degeneration/herniation, and scoliosis. The accurate diagnosis of most spinal conditions is accomplished with imaging studies.
Medical care: The typical medical treatment for lower back pain is medication; anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants. Will that help? Medication may help to relieve back pain, but drugs will not correct the cause of the problem.
Physical therapy: According to the American Physical Therapy Association, “Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who restore and improve movement.” However, a physical therapist is not a spine specialist. A physical therapist cannot order X-rays or imaging studies. Physical therapists are not M.D.s and they do not prescribe medication. A physical therapist usually treats back pain with massage and exercises.
Pain management: Pain clinics usually prescribe stronger drugs and spinal injections. Will that help back pain? According to medical literature, epidural shots are dangerous, of short-term duration, and often ineffective. The American Medical Association recommends that epidural shots be reserved for those who have failed conservative care.
Chiropractic: Chiropractors are specialists in spinal biomechanics. Compared to family M.D.s and physical therapists, chiropractors have significantly more training related to the evaluation of spine pain. In fact, a federal study by the Agency for Health Care Policy recommended that “low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and drugless form of treatment for acute low back problems in adults.”
The biggest difference between all other forms of medical treatment and chiropractic care is: A chiropractor is the only healthcare provider who specializes in spinal adjustments to correct vertebral misalignment. In a matter of a fraction of a second, a chiropractor can realign vertebrae and restore spinal function; a procedure that often provides significant pain relief in a very short time.
My advice: Chiropractic care is the safest, most conservative, and the most effective way to relieve lower back pain. If you are experiencing chronic lower back pain, put a great chiropractor on your health team.
Dr. Brue is an author, lecturer, and chiropractic provider in SaddleBrooke. For more information on the effectiveness of chiropractic care, go to bruechiropractic.com.