Chronic pain is no laughing matter. When severe and persistent, it can control your life by preventing you from doing the things you love. With chronic pain, you may find it painfully difficult to walk or even drive your car. So, instead of going out with friends and family, you stay at home to minimize your discomfort. If this sounds familiar, you should consider massage therapy. This centuries-old manual tissue manipulation treatment has been proven highly effective at treating and preventing chronic pain.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is best described as pain — either local or body wide — that lasts for a long time. Chronic pain can last just a few weeks, or it can last several years. On the other hand, if you only experience pain lasting for a few minutes or a few hours, it’s not chronic pain. Only pain lasting for at least several weeks is considered chronic.
Because of its long-lasting characteristics, treating chronic pain isn’t always easy. Short-term, temporary pain usually subsides on its own. Once the body heals the injured tissue, the pain goes away. With chronic pain, however, there’s usually an underlying condition that’s causing the pain. And unlike minor tissue injuries, the body can’t always heal these underlying conditions, thereby resulting in long-term pain that doesn’t go away.
How Common Is Chronic Pain?
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH), about one-quarter of the U.S. population suffers from chronic pain. It’s such a widespread problem that medical experts say chronic pain is responsible for more causes of long-term disability than any other disease or condition. Regardless of your gender or age, you can develop chronic pain at any time in your life. Many people develop it later in life due to the natural age-related degradation of their joints and supporting joint tissue. Others, however, develop chronic pain during adolescence. With more than 76 million Americans suffering from it, chronic pain is an all-too-common condition.
Massage Therapy: A Leading Alternative Treatment for Chronic Pain
There are dozens of drugs available to treat chronic pain. Most, however, come with unwanted side effects like an increased risk of high blood pressure, increased risk of stomach bleeding, liver damage and more. Furthermore, the pain-relieving effects of these drugs are short lived. Even if they offer relief initially, their effects will gradually subside the longer they are taken. After a few years of taking pain medication, they may offer little or no relief. This has prompted many people to seek alternative treatments for chronic pain, including massage therapy. In fact, a study cited by Live Science found that massage therapy is one of the most popular forms of alternative treatment for chronic neck and back pain.
How Massage Therapy Relieves Chronic Pain
Massage therapy can relieve chronic pain in several ways. First, it releases tension built up in your muscles. It’s not uncommon for muscles to remain in a constantly contracted state. When this occurs, the increased tension can lead to pain, inflammation and general discomfort. Massage therapy works to forcefully relieve muscle tension. A professional massage therapist will manipulate your problematic muscle tissue so that it releases tension. Once the tension is released, your body will feel looser and more relaxed, which should result in less or no pain.
Massage therapy has also been proven effective at chronic pain attributed to fibromyalgia. According to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA), about 10 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. Many of these chronic pain sufferers struggle to find relief, as traditional treatment options rarely work. Massage therapy, however, is a highly effective form of treatment for fibromyalgia. It relieves muscle tension and nerve pressure, improves blood flow throughout the body, and reduces psychological stress, all of which may have a positive impact on fibromyalgia-related chronic pain.
Other Tips to Relieve and Manage Chronic Pain
In addition to massage therapy, here are some other tips to relieve and manage your chronic pain:
- Get at least seven hours of sleep at night.
- Perform 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week.
- Limit consumption of inflammatory-promoting foods, such as those containing omega-6s
- Start your day by performing a light stretching routine.
- Apply ice or a cold compress to sore, inflamed muscles.
- Share your feelings about chronic pain in a daily journal.
- Make changes to your routine to avoid triggers of chronic pain.
Talk to Your Massage Therapist
To take advantage of the pain-relieving benefits of massage therapy, you should let your massage therapist know where exactly on your body you are experiencing pain. If you experience pain in your low pain, for example, tell the therapist so that he or she can specifically target this area with manual tissue manipulation.
If you suffer from chronic pain, contact us today to learn more about our massage therapy services and how they can improve your quality of life.Share