When referring to chronic pain it is usually ongoing pain longer than three months. It is a debilitating pain which you can reduce through massage. The most common causes of chronic pain are long-term illness or injury. Chronic pain occurs in any part of your body and increases anxiety, stress, and depression. Massage for chronic pain aims to disturb the cycle of pain to relieve and reduce pain while preventing it from reoccurring as well.
Massage Techniques for Chronic Pain
Common massage types for chronic pain include:
- Therapeutic Massage
- Remedial Massage
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Sports Massage
Chronic Pain Massage Therapy Benefits
Relieve Tight Muscles
Chronic pain is reduced through massage because muscle tightness is relieved. As soon as a person suffers from chronic pain, their muscles tighten. This tightening of muscles occurs automatically to restrict excess movement that could potentially cause damage to worsen or cause increased pain. At the same time, as soon as your muscles tighten, itself also increases pain. A massage aimed at reducing chronic pain reduces tight muscles to improve tissue elasticity by increasing blood flow. The blood flow increases when a massage therapist creates friction between her fingers and your skin. Tissue elasticity improves through the raised muscle temperature, your muscles relax, and the tightness dissipates. The relaxed muscles reduce restriction and therefore the pain.
A massive benefit that a massage for chronic pain offers is increased relaxation. When you suffer from chronic pain, the relaxation levels decrease because of the inability to continue routine daily activities, the constant feeling of pain and restriction in movement. A massage increases both mental and physical relaxation. The physical relaxation is because of the relieving of restricted movement and as soon as you have decreased pain, your relaxation levels rise. The mental relaxation through massage is caused by the releasing of positive hormones that are stimulated through massage. These hormones include dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins which are responsible for reduced anxiety, stress, and depression whilst increasing motivation, happiness, and relaxation. The increased levels of positive hormones through massage significantly increases relaxation.
Increased range of movement
The range of movement is very important as the damage that occurs in your body also allow the muscles around the damaged area to contract to prevent further damage. The contracted muscles cause increased tension and movement is automatically restricted. Long-term damage can lead to a prolonged restriction which increases stress and pain. When a massage therapist works on your body, the friction created between the fingers and the skin increases blood flow and this causes the muscle temperature to rise. As soon as muscle temperatures rise, the muscles loosen and relax and reduce the tension and tightness. The increased temperature also causes in-elasticity muscle reduction which allows your muscles to stretch to their full length which automatically increases the range of movement. This entire process has a significant effect on pain reduction.
Physiological Effects of Massage for Chronic Pain
Massage has so many effects on a person’s body and it includes physiological effects as well. For chronic pain the physiological effects include a wide range of benefits but the most common and important include increased dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, increase temperature as well as removal of waste.
Removal of Waste Products
We included a raised temperature and the releasing of feel-good hormones above but expand on the removal of waste products through massage to relieve chronic pain.
Waste products build up within your muscles that cause muscle fatigue and weakness. Fatigued muscles prolong pain effects which in turn increases chronic pain. The removal of waste products happens in your lymphatic system. In your lymphatic system there are little lymph vessels which are transporting lymph fluid through your body towards the nodes and glands.
Within the fluid is the waste products and the nodes or glands it is transported to, where the waste should be removed from your body. The common glands most of us are aware of are the sweat glands which are commonly found behind your knees, groin, and armpits. When you receive a massage, your lymphatic system is stimulated as well, and this stimulation increases your lymph flow.
The lymph flow increase rises the number of waste products to be transported to the glands and the waste products are removed at an increased tempo. The faster flow and quick removal of waste products from your body significantly reduces muscle fatigue and weakness and therefore pain reduction as well.
A Closer Look at Deep Tissue Massage for Chronic Pain Relief
A massage technique that’s mainly used for the treatment of musculoskeletal issues like sports injuries and strains is a deep tissue massage. The massage therapist will apply sustained pressure by using deep, slow strokes aimed at targeting the inner muscle layers and connective tissues. This technique helps to break up scar tissue that forms after injuries and reduction of tension in tissues and muscles. At the same time will it promote faster healing by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow.
Read more to learn how Swedish massage therapy techniques stack up against a deep tissue massage and learn more about deep tissue massage and how it is used as a treatment for chronic pain.
Deep Tissue Massage Benefits
Unlike a massage with its focus on relaxation, deep tissue massage techniques are focused on improving stiffness and treatment of muscle pain. However, it can still unwind you mentally as well. Studies showed that a deep tissue massage has the potential to deliver the same effects than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. Deep tissue massage techniques are excellent in pain management for chronic back pain.
People also report more deep tissue massage reliefs:
- Tennis elbow
- High blood pressure
- Plantar fasciitis
- Sports injuries
How it Compares to Swedish Massage Techniques
Some people are under the impression that a Swedish and deep tissue massage are the same, however, even though they use some of the same strokes, they vary significantly in the uses and amount of pressure used.
Area of focus: Swedish massage techniques target the superficial muscle layers with the focus on the body parts that tend to hold plenty of tension such as your back, shoulders, and neck. Deep tissue massage techniques target your muscle’s inner layers. It is used as treatment for tendon and muscle injuries, stiffness and pain in major muscle groups and joints.
Pressure: Both massage techniques use fingers and palms to manipulate and knead tissues, but a deep tissue massage uses far more tension than the gentler Swedish massage. The forearms and elbows of the massage therapist may also be used during a deep tissue massage for increased pressure.
Intended Use: A Swedish massage reduces muscle tension and promotes relaxation to muscles that are used in activities like sedentary positions behind a computer, etc. A deep tissue massage is primarily used to treat sports-related and muscle injuries and as chronic pain treatment.
There are various massage techniques suitable for chronic pain relief, lower back pain and managing chronic pain. Anyone living with chronic pain should find a massage therapist and discuss their needs with the therapist. Your massage therapist must know about your problem to determine which type of massage techniques are better for you.