Pain means different things to different people, in different contexts, and based on different experiences.
Acute, short-lived pain following a traumatic injury, in many cases heals. But not always. The pain that becomes increasingly hard to live with and manage, is the pain that has persisted month after month and often year after year, particularly when the source often can’t be diagnosed.
Living with chronic pain can be incredibly debilitating. It can slowly and progressively eats away at you, your confidence, self- worth, and independence and can consume your life and thoughts, often alienating you from your friends and family even your workplace.
Living with pain is exhausting and can even cause lack of sleep, anxiety and depression and fatigue can be increased during prolonged stress because your body is literally worn out. It can become harder to sleep, mental health issues can be exacerbated and your digestive system can be affected. These are only a few of the results of prolonged stress, but needless to say stress worsens the symptoms of chronic pain.
Massage therapy plays a significant part in many pain management approaches. Massage is commonly used to treat a wide variety of health conditions and can provide some really positive results for chronic pain patients. Massage therapy is defined as, “patterned and purposeful manipulation of soft-tissue for therapeutic purposes to prevent or reduce pain, spasm, tension or stress and to promote health and wellness,”
Benefits of massage on chronic pain
Chronic pain can cause stress levels to rise. Prolonged stress keeps your body stuck in a state of ‘fight or flight’. This means that all your body’s resources are sent to the parts of the body which would be needed for action. Unfortunately this results in other areas of your body not getting the resources they need, and your body becoming overworked.
Your muscles become tighter, which can contribute to pain levels and lack of mobility over time.
When you attend a massage therapist, you’ll first talk about your medical history and what your goals are from the sessions. Like any other therapist, your massage therapist will develop a treatment plan and talk you through it. Ensure you ask any questions you have and raise any concerns. It’s important you feel as relaxed as possible during the massage so addressing worries beforehand can be beneficial.
Physical therapists are experts in handling pain, finding the source of the pain and treating your body holistically. Physical therapy can be very beneficial in managing chronic pain by promoting joint movement, using exercises to reduce stiffness and improve muscle strength – all of which can reduce your pain and improve your mobility which may help with daily activities.
Massage therapy can involve varying degrees of pressure. Some people find certain forms of massage, such as deep tissue massage, to be painful. Massage doesn’t have to be painful to be therapeutic, so be sure to tell your therapist the type of touch you prefer (light touch, firm pressure, hard pressure). Lighter may be more relaxing and therefore more beneficial, depending on your situation. People with certain pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome may only be able to tolerate light pressure.