Posted in General by Penny WadePenny Wade on 05 February 2021

Growing healthcare costs, paired with the current opioid crisis for pain relief have led doctors and other therapists to look at ways to improve patient outcomes. So medicine is looking at  non pharmacological treatments such as massage therapy, acupuncture, exercise and mindfulness meditation as a part of a multi-disciplinary  patient-centred approach to pain. 

 These are the 4 ways masssage can help.

1. AffectiveTouch

Touch stimulates the release of neurochemicals( endogenous opioids and oxytocin)  associated with pain relief and relaxation. Reassuring touch provides the patient with a safety message. This can result in reduced reactivity to stressors and improves mood.

2. Contextual factors

Creating a healing environment is important. Music, warmth/cooling and positive interactions with clients will facilitate relaxation to influence health related outcomes. The level of response will be influenced by mood, expectations and conditioning. Interestingly, if the mood of the therapist is not good this can be picked up by the client.

3. Mechanical factors

Therapeutic massage influences tissue and cell physiology. Research has shown that massage given in the early stages of an injury prevented the deposit of collagen and the deposit of a compound that causes chronic inflammation and scar tissue in muscles and nerves. Thus by using massage to reduce inflammation, it can then help the body to respond to subsequent rehabilitation. Gentle stretching of the nerves and muscles helps reduce swelling round the area and expedites the clearance of toxins.

4. Neurological factors

 Therapeutic massage stimulates special sensory receptors in the muscles. 

When I give a massage there is a light massage or a deeper one. Each level of pressure activates different receptors in the skin. So there are 2 types in the superficial skin layers and another 2 types in the deeper layers. And a fifth type recently discovered which plays a role in transmitting the pleasurable properties of touch.

Thus, stimulating the skin inhibits the pain receptors and so our experience of pain is diminished. 


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