This month is National Pain Awareness Month. The main purpose of Pain Awareness Month is to bring attention to the very real physical suffering of close to 75 million Americans and to highlight the need for research and new, innovative treatments. Most of the awareness associated with Pain Awareness Month is focused on chronic pain. This could be as common as chronic pain of the lower back or more specific, such as chronic pain associated with terminal illnesses.
Chronic pain is a progressive condition. The pain is constant with occasional severe flare-ups. For it to be considered chronic pain, it usually persists for more than three months. Usual treatment for this pain is muscle relaxants prescribed by doctors. However, some patients don’t like the side effects associated with the muscle relaxants, leading to more and more people turning to massage therapy as a treatment. Actually, many health care providers across the nation recommend massage therapy and medical treatment.
Not only does massage therapy help relieve tension by relaxing the associated muscles causing pain, but it can also prevent future conditions. Massage therapy relaxes the muscles, improves circulation, and increases your endorphin levels. Endorphins are those feel-good chemicals our bodies produce to help us deal with pain.
A research study by the Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Washington revealed that massage therapy could have prolonged benefits for sufferers of chronic back pain. In the study, 262 adults, ages 20 to 70, were given Swedish and deep-tissue massages, trigger-point therapy (applying pressure to tender muscle tissue), neuromuscular therapy and movement education. After 10 weeks, participants noted that the benefits of massage therapy continued well beyond the last treatment and persisted up to one year later.
Massage Therapy for Pain Relief in other Medical Conditions
In addition to chronic pain found in the neck, back, and headaches, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) gathered research that found therapeutic massage to reduce pain and improve overall quality of life for individuals suffering from metastatic cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Massage therapy has been shown to help both physically and mentally during the different stages of these conditions.
As always, consult your primary physician before seeking massage therapy for your condition. Once you have visited your doctor, make an appointment with me and we’ll talk about how we can work together to alleviate chronic pain. Even if you aren’t suffering chronic pain, what better way to recognize those in your lives who might be with a gift card for a massage?