Massage therapy is a natural and effective way to treat chronic pain in patients, and comorbid conditions such as anxiety and depression.
The benefits of massage therapy for chronic pain include:
- improved sleep patterns
- reduction in inflammation and swelling in areas affected by chronic pain
- increased energy levels
Massage therapy has been shown to be effective in relieving stress. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which releases hormones such as serotonin that activate positive feelings such as happiness. Massages also increase dopamine production, which creates a sense of euphoria similar to drugs like heroin or cocaine, but without their addictive properties or negative side effects. The release of endorphins from massage also creates a feeling of wellness and acts as a natural painkiller.
Massage can be used to treat conditions such as:
- chronic back pain
- arthritis in the hands and joints
- anxiety, depression and insomnia
Measures taken when receiving massage therapy for comorbid conditions:
If suffering from an anxiety disorder or mental health problems you should inform your therapist before the massage. Discuss any concerns you may have with your therapist to make sure you feel safe and comfortable during the session. This will increase trust between yourself and your massage therapist which is vital to the success of the massage therapy.
It is important to discuss any concerns you may have about receiving massage therapy with your doctor if suffering from a physical or mental health condition. Your doctor can provide advice on the type of massage, physical limitations and precautions you should take before receiving massage therapy.
If you are pregnant, elderly or have any medical issues please consult your doctor before receiving massage therapy, this will ensure it is safe for you to receive within your specific circumstances.
Measures taken when giving massage therapy:
- Set up in a comfortable area where the patient receives maximum relaxation
- Use music that makes patients feel calm and relaxed
- Offer aromatherapy using scents such as lavender which are known to have calming properties
- Place infrared heat lamps over areas that are experiencing chronic pain or discomfort. The heat helps to stimulate blood flow into the muscles which relaxes them and reduces inflammation, it also provides patients with a relaxing sensation.
Massage therapy techniques:
Swedish massage is the most common technique used in massage therapy. It uses long gliding strokes, kneading and friction movements across all parts of the body (termed effleurage). Pressure can be deep or light depending on each individual’s preferences.
Trigger point massage is best for patients who suffer from chronic back pain because it targets trigger points in the muscles around the spine that may be causing some of the discomfort experienced by patients.