What causes chronic pain?
Although everyone experiences aches and pains sometimes, chronic pain can be defined as pain that lasts from 3-6 months or more. The effects of constant or recurring pain are more than physical; it can also affect your mental health and lifestyle.
Chronic pain may have no obvious cause, but for many people it starts with either an injury or as a result of a side-effect from a health condition. Some of the most common causes include:
- Nerve damage
- Infectious Diseases
- Spinal conditions
- Post-surgery scarring
- Recurrent migraines
Pain is a direct response in your nervous system to trauma, but chronic pain can also continue long after the original cause has healed. Whatever the cause, it’s important to remain in continued dialogue with your doctor as you attempt to treat your symptoms.
Massage for pain relief
Many people choose to visit a massage therapist for help in managing chronic pain. The main potential benefits of massage include:
- Serotonin release: this is the body’s natural anti-pain (happy feeling) hormone and neurotransmitter.
- Deeper sleep: not necessarily a direct symptom, but often an aggravating factor. Massage may be able to help you relax enough to get a good night’s sleep.
- Improved range of motion: for joint stiffness, massage can lengthen and release soft tissue to allow for easier movement.
- Reduced inflammation: massage works by bringing oxygen and nutrients to adhesions in the muscles, as well as draining lactic acid. This helps to remove toxins from the body.
What sort of massage should I try?
There are many different types of massage, so it’s worth trying a few in order to determine what works best for your specific symptoms. A good place to start is:
- Reflexology: this non-invasive treatment focuses on pressure points in your feet that correspond to areas in the body. Iit’s philosophy relates to releasing blockages in the flow of qi, or “energy”. Studies have shown this to be an effective tool in pain management for many different types of medical conditions.
- Relaxing Massage: using long, flowing strokes and a varied pressure similar to Swedish Massage, the focus of this kind of treatment is helping you to calm down and de-stress. Have one before bed for a soothing night’s sleep.
How to prepare for a massage
If you are suffering from a serious illness or injury, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any kind of massage treatment. In addition, make sure to discuss your needs and goals with your therapist before your treatment begins.
Depending on the type of massage, you will either remain clothed, or will be asked undress.You may be seated upright or lie on a table covered by a towel. Always communicate if you are feeling any kind of excessive discomfort. Although you may feel slight discomfort while tense areas are being manipulated, you should never be in agony. It’s always important to communicate with your therapist on this to get the perfect pressure for you, it is sometimes preferable to have a lighter pressure and enjoy the relaxing benefits than to endure discomfort.
After your massage, it is recommended to take some time to rest and drink plenty of water. If your muscles feel sore the next day you could try taking a warm bath. The effects of massage tend to be cumulative, especially with conditions causing chronic pain, so think about planning a treatment every week or month, depending on your budget.