Everyone experiences physical pain at some point in their lives; it’s often a temporary state caused by a specific injury or illness, and will disappear relatively quickly and easily. For many people, however, pain can persist well beyond the ‘healing’ of an injury, or may not have an obvious cause to begin with. Pain that lasts more than 12 weeks is considered chronic, though for many it can be a daily struggle for months or even years.
There are numerous conditions that can cause chronic pain, but some of the ones we see most frequently include:
- Headaches (including those as a result of motor vehicle accidents or whiplash)
- Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Lower back pain
One of the most frustrating things about chronic pain is that it is no longer ‘useful’; if you break your ankle, the pain is acute and serves as an excellent reminder to not put much weight on that ankle. Chronic pain, however, has outlived its ‘warning’ function or persists long after an underlying injury has been physically healed. It is often accompanied by fatigue and exhaustion, reduces overall immune system functioning, and can lead to heightened stress, anxiety, and depression.
Massage therapy can be an effective tool for reducing pain and its accompanying issues even before the therapist begins treating the specifics of your condition, as massage helps release endorphins such as serotonin, one of the body’s natural anti-pain chemicals. Massage therapy also increases circulation, which in turn can reduce inflammation and increase range of motion, as well as helping overly tense muscles to relax. Additionally, as discussed in our article on insomnia, massage therapy can help increase deep, restorative sleep. All of these things not only help to decrease the physical sensation of pain, but also allow your body to safely relax, thereby lowering levels of stress, anxiety, depression.
When it comes to treating specific types of chronic pain, our registered massage therapists have a great deal of experience dealing with different conditions and a variety of techniques to draw upon. The amount of pressure used by the therapist, and the depth of the tissues they are working on can always be adjusted to fit your comfort levels.