If you live with chronic pain, you know how debilitating it can be from day to day. You've likely tried to alleviate your suffering with many different treatments. You may know that many people turn to massage for wellness, but did you also know that it can help in managing chronic pain? Find out more about chronic pain and the ways that massage therapy can help.
What defines chronic pain?
The Institute for Chronic Pain defines the condition as pain that lasts longer than 6 months. Sometimes chronic pain stems from an illness or injury and sometimes it comes with additional symptoms, which may escalate it to a chronic pain syndrome. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) explains the condition like this:
While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial mishap — sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain — arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.
Because chronic pain can cause additional symptoms like loss of sleep or elevated levels of stress, it can create a vicious circle of pain for those who suffer with the problem.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Interstitial cystitis
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Fibromyalgia itself can go hand-in-hand with other disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, numbness and stiff joints. Sufferers usually experience pain when specific points on the body are touched. Chronic myofascial pain syndrome — a condition often caused by repetitive stress on a group of muscles — is another type of chronic pain condition that can cause a prolonged aching feeling. Both of these conditions fall under the umbrella of chronic pain and each may be improved with massage, though likely using different approaches.
Seeking help from a provider
Massage therapy helps relieve tension and stress, aids in easing muscle and joint pain, improves sleep and provides many other benefits that can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain. If you have chronic pain, be sure to talk to your massage therapist about your condition to ensure that you receive treatment that helps improve your symptoms and doesn't aggravate them. Your massage therapist should go through a thorough intake process to help understand your condition and the accompanying symptoms.
Practitioners will likely tailor their approach to your health condition, taking into account other information like whether any flare-ups have occurred. Always during treatment, whether you suffer from chronic pain or not, communicate with your therapist if something increases your pain or just doesn't feel right. Let any other medical practitioners you see know about any massage or other natural therapies you are using to treat your condition.
The Community Clinic at the Acupuncture & Massage College in Miami offers massage, acupuncture and Oriental medicine therapies. Call (305) 595-9500 to schedule an appointment.