By Patricia J. Benjamin, PhD.
Massage therapy is a natural approach to pain management. A survey released by the American Massage Therapy Association in 2003 reveals that an increasing number of consumers are seeking massage specifically to manage and relieve pain. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has suggested massage as an effective drugless therapy for pain management. Therapeutic massage relieves pain from a variety of causes, and may reduce the need for pain medication.
The hands of our skilled massage therapist can help normalize body tissues and ease pain by increasing circulation, relaxing muscles, and reducing tissue swelling. Special massage techniques can be applied to promote healthy scars, unstick adhering tissues, improve lymph circulation, and soothe irritated nerves.
A relaxing massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and induces the relaxation response. This anti-stress response has benefits like deeper breathing, slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, increased circulation, decreased muscle tension, strengthened immune system, and mental calming. Massage helps you relax so that your body can heal itself faster.
Studies confirm that massage reduces the psychological pain of anxiety, and promotes restful sleep. Neuro-chemicals called endorphins, which reduce the sensation of pain and increase feelings of well-being, are released with massage.
Research specifically cites massage as effective for relieving low back pain, tension headaches, post-surgery pain and muscle spasms, and the perception of pain in cancer patients. The caring touch of massage offers human comfort to those suffering pain and distress.