Tag Archives: massage

Therapeutic Massage Part 2 – Risks, Tips and Cautions

Massage is a widely popular alternative therapy that many look to for stress and pain management, as well as for its potential to ease symptoms of certain health conditions. In Part 1, we took a closer look at some of the conditions helped by massage. In this post we want to touch on more conditions that may see benefits from massage, as well as to look at potential risks and how to choose which type of massage for you.

Other Conditions That May Benefit From Massage

Massage has also been known to help with the following conditions as well:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Fibromyalgia
  3. Headaches
  4. Insomnia related to stress
  5. Temporomandibular joint pain
  6. Soft tissue injuries
  7. Certain digestive disorders

Potential Risks of Therapeutic Massage

As we have illustrated, therapeutic massage can have many potential benefits, however, as with anything there are risks associated with massage as well. Some of which include blood clots, contracting an infectious disease, nerve damage or bruising for massages that are too rough. Also, there are certain people who shouldn’t have massages, including those with bleeding disorders, open wounds or severe osteoporosis. It is important to talk to your doctor before beginning any kind of alternative therapy such as therapeutic massage to ensure the benefits outweigh the risks for your specific health situation.

How to Choose What Kind of Massage to Get?

There are various types of massage out there such as Swedish (whole-body), shiatsu (finger pressure massage), reflexology (pressure points), hot stone, Reiki, and deep tissue massage. According to WebMD, the most common type of massage is the whole-body relaxation massage that is designed to relax all the muscles, joints and tissues, aiming for stress and pain management. Everyone is different, and the type of massage that will best suit you likely depends on your condition, overall health and the outcomes you wish to obtain from the massage. Be sure to research your masseuse extensively to ensure you are going to a certified, good quality massage therapist who will help you the most. Check out the American Massage Therapy Association database for good options.

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Therapeutic Massage Part 1 – Potential Health Benefits

There are different types of massage such as Swedish, deep tissue or full-body massage. The type that works for you may not work for the next person, as massage is a subjective, one-size-fits-one type of service. There is little conclusive empirical evidence that massage has definitive pain relief benefits, but there is much anecdotal and personal evidence that it can help with pain management and provide the following benefits:

  1. Stress management – Arguably the strongest proven health benefit of massage therapy is its effect on lowering stress. Stress triggers cortisol and adrenaline levels to rise in the body which can have detrimental effects on physical conditions and overall wellbeing, especially when these levels are perpetually elevated due to chronic stress. Massage has shown to reduce stress-releasing hormones, while simultaneously elevating levels of feel-good endorphins in the body which helps many people shake the stress of the day or week.

  2. Lower back pain relief – While research has been inconsistent on massage and pain in general, studies on the effectiveness of massage as pain relief have yielded the best results for patients with chronic lower back pain. Expert massage stimulates the release of natural analgesics in the brain, temporarily distracting the brain’s pain centers by redirecting it with these ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters and hormones. This effect seems to go further in helping back pain than shoulder, hip or migraine pain.
  3. Pregnancy benefits – According to the Mayo Clinic, prenatal massage can be very helpful in lowering stress and anxiety levels in pregnant women, as well as helping to ease the aches, pains and swelling that can be associated with pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA) prenatal massage may even improve delivery outcomes, however it is best to seek out a certified prenatal masseuse to ensure safety and effectivity.  

  4. Insomnia is connected with lower than average serotonin levels, and massage has shown to help increase these levels as well as release other feel-good hormones in the body. These hormones may also help bring down stress, alertness and make way for relaxation and perhaps improved sleep.

  5. Lymphedema – another strongly proven medical benefit of massage is for lymphedema patients. Some patients have such immense swelling and water retention in their lower limbs that water will actually drain out of their skin during the right type of medical massage known as a lymphatic drainage massage. This can be essential for some lymphedema patients, as there is no cure for the disease so patients often get relief from different types of treatment. ‘

 That concludes the first part of our look at the potential medicinal benefits of massages, stay tuned next for some of the risks and different types of massage. Thanks for visiting DocChat!


Chronic Pain Management Tactics (Part 1)

Over 100 million Americans suffer some form of chronic pain. This figure is heartbreaking and truly illustrates how important it is to create an open dialogue about chronic pain control. Without healthy management tactics, people may rely too heavily on medications or self medicate unhealthily with such substances as alcohol, drugs or cigarettes which can lead to other chronic health complications over time such as organ failure or cardiovascular disease.

Find Your Management Plan

There are various types of chronic pain from different forms of arthritis, to autoimmune pain, fibromyalgia to post-trauma pain, so treatments will work differently for each individual. With a little experimentation you can find the best pain management plan for you which, in tandem with your doctor’s recommendations, can allow you a better quality of life. Some non-pharmacological pain management techniques include:

  1. The Power of Touch

Touch may not completely banish the pain, but can divert focus from your discomfort to a more pleasurable sensation. Sensual and calmative touch releases the mood-boosting chemical oxytocin in the brain which works as a temporary natural analgesic. Many turn to sex for this euphoric fix, but a back rub will work just as well, a good cuddle or even getting a friend to play with your hair or scratch your back will give you enough warm fuzzies to at least tamp down pain sensations.

  1. Therapeutic Massage

Speaking of touch, millions of chronic pain sufferers find degrees of relief from professional therapeutic massage. Massage can help quell pain for various reasons. It increases circulation to damaged muscles and stiff joints by getting the blood flowing while simultaneously triggering the rapid release of opioids and the “love hormone’ oxytocin in the brain. Both opioids and oxytocin act as temporary natural painkillers. Massages also work to distract the brain from other ongoing aches and pains by redirecting it to the pleasurable or even harsh sensations an expert masseuse can deliver.

  1. Manage Your Stress to Manage Your Pain

When your body enters ‘fight or flight’ mode, it triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can worsen all kinds of pre-existing inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune conditions, arthritis or heart problems. Therefor, it stands to reason that alleviating your stress can also help assuage some of the pain and inflammation as well. Check out our post on stress busters for some stress management ideas.

  1. Mentally Guided Techniques

There are many psychological relaxation techniques that have shown positive results in both pain and stress reduction in some chronic pain sufferers. Some of these include guided meditation, progressive relaxation, or using biofeedback to monitor your body’s biological signals such as heart rate or blood pressure in an attempt to bring them down and calm your whole system.

A Closer Look At Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation is arguably one of the best psychological relaxation techniques for pain management. It is the methodical tensing and releasing of each muscle group in your body when can help let go of tension in certain areas and relax all your muscles and joints (as well as your mind). Many chronic pain sufferers find this especially beneficial to help induce sleep as it can be tricky to catch some zzz’s when your joints are screaming. Overtime as you get better at progressive relaxation and gain more control over the various muscles in your body, you may feel more in control of your pain. Of course these tactics may not work for everyone but anything is worth a try, hey?

That concludes our part 1 of our pain management tips. Stay tuned for part 2 coming next to read more about how exercise, acupuncture, personal TENS machines and trigger point injections can help pain management! Thanks for visiting DocChat, if you have any questions or concerns about chronic pain management, sign up today for a video consultation with one of our highly trained physicians!