Chronic Pain and Massage Therapy
By: Jaimee Clarkson
It’s estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians suffers from debilitating chronic pain. Chronic pain can affect an individual’s ability to do their activities of daily living which can cre
ate a greater risk of psychological disorders and can influence the pain they are experiencing.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that is persistent for more than 12 weeks and can last for months or even years. There is evidence that shows that Massage Therapy can help manage chronic pain such as fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions.
Some chronic pain conditions are fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines to rheumatoid arthritis.
One of the mechanisms used to explain the effects of Massage Therapy is the “Gate Control Theory”. When there is an applied pressure to an area of the body, pressure signals are sent to the brain through nerve fibers. These “pressure signals” are faster than pain signals. This then allows the pressure signals to “close the gate” so the pain signals do not reach the brain.
Massage therapy can also encourage an increase in serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates pain perception. As serotonin levels increase then you have a decrease in cortisol levels(which is a anti-inflammatory hormone) which then will lead to lower levels of pain.
Massage therapy is also known to help anxiety levels, quality of sleep and quality of life which can all help improve the pain we experience. Massage therapy is no cure for chronic conditions but is one of the many options that will help manage and alleviate pain. Chronic pain keeps people away from doing the things they need or want to do, massage therapy can help those who suffer from chronic pain or conditions get back to normal function and help manage these difficult conditions.
Massage therapy is a great addition to other alternative treatments such as physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture and more. With the continuing support of massage therapy, individuals with chronic pain can get back to the activities that they love to do.