How Massage Therapy Helps with Chronic Pain
In the United States, 65 million Americans suffer from some episode of back-related pain recently in their lives. However, 16 million experience chronic pain, which interferes with their everyday activity. When pain takes over your life like that, you want to find a solution. For many victims, massage therapy is the answer.
Massage therapy uses pressure and long strokes to relieve muscle-related pain in our bodies. Many of us use this type of treatment for those frustrating flair-ups or bouts of acute pain. We then enjoy massages that relieve our suffering until the next round while providing a relaxing environment. But what about chronic illness?
Causes of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is different from acute pain because it’s long-lasting and not related to one particular episode. On the other hand, chronic pain develops from repetitive stress, trauma, or injury. Muscle overuse is a common cause of chronic pain. When this happens, tension builds up, and muscles can no longer relax. It’s almost as if they’re in a constant state of contraction.
Injury or trauma can also cause chronic pain. Many athletes manage pain when an injury or stress fracture occurs. It isn’t a quick, acute flair-up, but rather long-lasting due to the injury itself.
Repeated positioning is another cause of chronic pain. This can be due to work, such as with professions that require you to sit or stand in one position. Over time, this creates tension and pain.
How Massage Therapy Helps
During massage therapy sessions, blood flow increases throughout the body, but most importantly, into the muscles. Circular movement and long strokes relax muscles and reduce tension, which brings back movement by enhancing the muscle tissues’ elasticity and flexibility. Add in relaxation techniques, and you have the perfect recipe to reduce pain.
Muscle tension also impacts the bones and joints, which is why massage therapy partners well with regular chiropractic care. As chiropractors shift the bones into realignment, muscles will contract, and slowly your bones return to an incorrect position. By using massage to relieve that tension, your bones will stay in alignment for more extended periods, reducing pressure on joints, and pain.
Stress and Chronic Illness
Stress is an aggravator of chronic pain. When we feel anxious or stressed, our brain releases the hormone cortisol. Like a vicious cycle: pain causes stress, releasing cortisol, which exacerbates the pain even more. Massages are relaxing and can lower stress hormone levels. Aside from increasing blood flow and reduce muscle tension, massage can also help you feel better mentally, resulting in lower levels of pain.
Goodbye, Chronic Pain
When patients use massage therapy regularly, these techniques can reduce recurrent episodes of pain. This is true for any healing method — you can’t just do something once and get immediate results. To alleviate symptoms of chronic pain with massage, you must receive sessions regularly. Weekly or biweekly massages are an excellent place to start, and patients can reduce sessions to once a month or fewer once the pain begins to subside.