Pain Conditions That Can Be Helped With Massage

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According to the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association), 25% of men and 28% of women who got a massage in 2021, did so for pain relief or pain management. There are a number of conditions that can be helped by massage. Massage can help to improve circulation, increase flexibility and range of motion, and relieve muscle tension. Massage can also be beneficial for conditions such as anxiety, headaches, high blood pressure, and even some types of pain. If you are considering massage for a specific condition, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider first to ensure that massage is appropriate for you. The following are some conditions that might be helped by massage:

Muscle Tension

Although some people experience muscle tension in the neck, back and shoulders from exercising too much, most experience it due to excessive sitting. Improper posture while standing and sitting is one of the main causes of chronic back pain.

Thankfully, massage therapy is able to help you by relaxing your tense muscles and improving your flexibility.

Chronic Back Pain

A 2011 study that was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported evidence that massage to be very effective for those who suffer from chronic back pain.

Chronic back pain is actually one of the most common reasons people get a massage, no matter its cause, be it poor posture, work related and other injuries, stress or carrying heavy items.

sciatica

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a very painful condition that affects the nerves of the body and makes life quite difficult for those suffering with it. Various massage therapies can help.

  • Trigger point therapy targets the most painful spots, which are located in bands of muscle fibers. This type of massage deactivates these areas by targeting trigger points identified to be the source of most pain, and uses pressure applied with the fingertip to massage them.
  • Swedish massage helps fibromyalgia patient alleviate stress. This in turn, helps promote relaxation, and general wellbeing that helps with pain management.
  • Myofascial release is a form of massage that applies gentle pressure to connective tissue, and helps to ease fibromyalgia pain by restoring motion by elongating muscle fibers.
  • Hot-stone massage promotes relaxation and stress relief, thereby helping fibromyalgia sufferers improve their wellbeing, quality of life and reduce pain.
  • Passive stretching is a practice where external force is placed on a limb in order to move it into a new position. Those who suffer from fibromyalgia will have very stiff joints, which are caused by constant muscle spasms featured within this condition. Passive Stretching helps to gentle move extremities in the same direction to loosen tight joints and muscles.
  • Sports massage can also benefit those with fibromyalgia as it releases stress and tension that builds up in the soft tissues of the body during physical activity. Sports massage also boosts blood circulation, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, increases lymph flow, improves flexibility, and eases pain.

It’s a good idea to find a massage therapist experienced in dealing with fibromyalgia patients. One example is the clinical massage therapist who works in a medical facility or hospital, as these are experts in various medical conditions, including fibromyalgia and how it affects the body, so they will be able to create a sound and effective treatment plan.

Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Suffering from arthritis can limit your normal activities. Thankfully, massage therapy is known for reducing pain associated with this condition, as well as increase mobility for people suffering from arthritis.

Regular massages could improve grip strength, relieve pain, and reduce anxiety in people suffering from this condition.

Various massage therapies can help with arthritis; you can discuss options that are most fitting for your condition with your therapist

  • Swedish
  • Deep Tissue
  • Hot Stone
  • Ayurvedic
  • Amma
  • Thai Massage
  • Lomi Lomi
  • Myofascial Release
  • Reflexology
  • Rolfing
  • Shiatsu
  • Trigger Point

Frozen Shoulder

If you’re having difficulty lifting your arms high, then you may be suffering from a frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis. This condition is marked by soreness and stiffness within the shoulder joint, and is considered to be very painful and debilitating. Frozen shoulder affects 5% of the population.

Basically, having a frozen shoulder means that the connective tissue around your shoulder’s tendons, ligaments, and bones became tighter.

Regular massage therapy and other bodywork modalities help treat this condition and alleviate the pain caused by it. Not only will it help with pain relief, but regular massages will also improve range of motion.

According to one study (Page, et al), deep friction massage can help frozen shoulder. Therapeutic massage techniques including trigger point therapy, stretching and joint mobilization and myofascial release either applied individually or in combination have shown positive results in alleviating frozen shoulder symptoms.

Massage techniques strive to release stiffness, boost blood and oxygen circulation, release locked-up muscles, and improve movement. A qualified massage therapist can create a treatment plan that consists of multiple sessions designed to unlock the stiff shoulder and restore the body’s normal range of motion.

Sciatica

If you start experiencing pain from your lower back all the way down through your leg, then you may have damaged your sciatic nerve. This is one of the longer nerves found in the body, which is why the pain is so noticeable.

  • In sciatica, the tightening of the piriformis muscles in the back places undue stress on the nerve roots and massage helps to loosen those muscles, and also prevents irritation and pinching.
  • Furthermore, massage helps stimulate the release of the body’s natural painkillers, known as endorphins to provide relief for sciatica symptoms, including throbbing pain in the foot and burning sensations in the legs.

Jeff Smoot, vice president of the American Massage Therapy Association says that trigger point therapy is the best type of massage for sciatica. Trigger point therapy applies pressure to the irritated and inflamed areas in the piriformis muscle, glutes, and lower back. Typically, progress can be seen by the 4the session, with treatments being given 7 to 10 days apart.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome

Your rotator cuff is extremely important to the body because it offers extraordinary range of motion. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that sits in the shoulders and connects the upper arm to the shoulder blade.

If your rotator cuff is injured, you’ll notice almost instantly. For example, you won’t be able to throw a ball overhead or pick up something off a shelf. Because your rotator cuff muscles are surrounded by bones, the interior pressure of your shoulder socket will increase if your rotator cuff becomes injured.

This will cause the muscle tissue to start to fray, since it will stop receiving a lot of blood. By getting a massage, you’ll increase blood flow to your rotator cuff muscles, thus helping them heal.

Muscle Sprains And Strains

Massage therapy is a great way to efficiently treat muscle sprains and strains. This comes as no surprise considering that the massage therapist will spend all of their time during a session working on your soft tissues. Following a strain or a sprain, you will have to avoid engaging physical activity for several weeks, but thanks to massage therapy, you will fully recover after those weeks.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is quite different from the muscle soreness you may feel after a challenging workout. One of the best ways to relieve myofascial pain is to get either a deep tissue or a hot stone massage.

It’s worth noting that this syndrome is known to raise the risk of insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Thankfully, getting a massage suitable for relieving the symptoms of myofascial pain syndrome will help reduce these symptoms as well.

Effective Types Of Massage For Myofascial Syndrome

Deep Tissue Massage targets knots and helps to release chronic tension by using stroking techniques against the grains of the muscles. Placing deep pressure on the fascia, the protective layer that surrounds bones, muscles and joints, deep tissue massage may feel uncomfortable during the session, but provides lasting long-term benefits for the condition.

Hot Stone Massage helps reach deeper layers of the muscles to reduce myofascial pain while at the same time increasing relaxation and reducing stress. The warm stones work to improve blood circulation, and offer a sedative effect that helps relieve chronic pain.

Cancer

Massage therapy not only helps with pain related to cancer, and treatments, but it also helps fight the stress and anxiety associated with cancer diagnosis. On top of that, it will also help to manage treatment side effects such as fatigue and nausea.

HIV

Massage therapy can help people suffering from HIV primarily by strengthening their immune system, thus helping them fight the disease. Additionally, it can help relieve certain HIV/AIDS symptoms, such as inflammation, body tension, cramps, and muscle spasms.

Sports injuries

If a damaged muscle is massaged right away, there is a high chance of an extremely fast recovery. If you’re an athlete and have suffered an injury, but want to get back to working out quickly, then you should make sure to visit a massage therapist or a physical therapist as soon as possible. Massages are a great way to recover from sports injuries.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you experience numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and wrists then you might be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. This syndrome usually affects the individual’s dominant hand, which can negatively affect your movement.

Getting a massage tailored for fixing your problems will carpal tunnel syndrome will greatly reduce the symptoms associated with this condition.

Final thoughts

Although massage is not a cure-all, it can be an incredibly effective treatment for many different pain conditions. If you are experiencing chronic pain, book a massage and see if it helps to alleviate your symptoms. Massage therapy has been shown to be helpful for everything from back pain to headaches, so there’s a good chance that it could help you too. Pain can take over our lives, but with the help of massage, we can start to regain control.

About James Hall

James H is the main author of Handheld Massager Guide. He is a self-confessed "fitness freak", currently spending his time blogging and training for a marathon. He is passionate about the benefits of massage for muscle recovery and loves testing & reviewing gadgets to improve performance.

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