Living with chronic pain is quite a controversial topic in the medical world. There are many approaches to addressing pain, whether it be through massage or soft tissue treatment, exercise, pain medications and more. The management of chronic pain should always be a mixed approach to treatment. No single practitioner can help chronic pain, it will require the effort of multiple allied health professionals to ensure the best treatment and the best results. Massage Therapy plays a role in addressing pain caused by soft tissues. So depending on your type of pain, and the reason behind the pain, there is always something that we can do to help the management, or treatment of your pain.
There are many different forms of pain, soft tissue pain, nerve pain, emotional pain, etc. but the easiest way to classify pain is by Acute and Chronic.
Acute pain is right then and now. You cut yourself, you kicked your toe, you’re getting a tattoo. These are all examples of Acute Pain.
Chronic pain is typically defined as pain that has persisted for weeks or even years. This pain can be broken down into:
- Nociceptive pain – felt in the body’s soft tissues or organs
- Neuropathic pain – felt in the nerves, the most common form being sciatic pain.
- Psychogenic pain – or emotional pain, most commonly cause by psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.
- Idiopathic pain – where no obvious cause of pain is evident, but the pain is there, e.g., TMJ Disorders or Fibromyalgia.
Whilst some of these conditions, massage therapy will not be beneficial to, most will see many benefits from massage therapy. If it does not help the initial issue at hand, it will certainly help the side effects for these issues.
Massage therapy has been proven to be the most efficient form of treatment for soft tissue injuries and pain except for visceral (organ or internal) pain. One of the most common forms of chronic pain is lower back pain. That’s right, lower back pain is mostly chronic, and is also very treatable. Most cases of lower back pain can be treated by a remedial massage therapist and a good exercise program. Even in the event of an Orthopaedic condition, such as slip disc or bulge disc, massage therapy has proven to be a much less invasive and efficient way of treating the pain associated with these conditions.
Neuropathic pain for the most part is caused by damage to a nerve or more often, the impingement of a nerve in the body e.g. burning or aching pain down the arm due to nerve impingement in the shoulder. Whilst neuropathic pain is much harder to treat from a massage therapy stand point, there are quite a few neuropathic issues that as a massage therapist are very treatable. The most common is Sciatic pain, of which the most common cause is not neuropathic at all, but muscular and is caused by the Piriformis muscle.
Psychogenic pain however, is a difficult one, psychogenic pain is typically classified as emotional pain, a very non physical type of pain. So how can massage help? Massage has been proven to increase the production of serotonin, melatonin and dopamine, all of which are “feel-good” hormones produced in the body. This in turn helps with anxiety and depression, two most common causes of psychogenic pain. The increased production of melatonin also assists the body in maintaining a regular circadian or sleeping pattern. Let’s face it, we all feel better after a good nights sleep.
The last is Idiopathic pain, where there is no obvious cause of pain. This does not mean there is no pain, so as previously seen, we may not be able to fix the cause of the pain, we can definitely help manage the symptom, which is the actual pain. So in the case of idiopathic pain, the cause may not be known, but the pain reducing and mood elevating qualities of massage therapy are still a viable option for coping with the symptoms.
Don’t just exist with chronic pain, LIVE with it, don’t let chronic pain be who you are, or let it define you, if you have any further questions or concerns be sure to contact us and talk to us about your pain. To book an appointment with one of our experienced Remedial Massage Therapists to help you develop a plan to manage Chronic Pain, Book Online now.