Massage can be used to help treat everyday aches and chronic pain, as well as pain resulting from cancer or its treatment. Some studies even show that massage provides better relief from pain, in some instances, than some medicine.
Massage seems to ease pain in several different ways. For starters, it can increase blood flow to sore, stiff joints and muscles, which are warmed by the extra circulation. As reported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, animal studies have found that massage also triggers the release of natural painkillers called opioids in the brain.
In a recently published article entitled, “4 Things You Must Know About Massage for Pain Relief,” author and expert, Jason Erickson, writes:
“A growing number of Americans understand that massage therapy is effective for reducing or managing pain. Through learning more about massage for pain relief, we can be more effective at meeting clients’ expectations. Pain science is teaching us new ways the body and brain process pain signals.”
Listed here are the four areas related to pain and massage for pain relief that Erickson suggests that massage therapists need to understand:
1. Social Variables
How people experience pain is subjective. Sometimes people could be experiencing a shooting pain in their spine, but, medically, there is nothing wrong. The MS should still treat the patient as if there is something evidently wrong.
2. There is no “Pain Center” in the Brain
“Nociceptors and nociception are not ‘pain receptors’ and ‘pain signals,’” writes Erickson.
Nociceptive pain is caused by damage to body tissue and usually described as a sharp, aching, or throbbing pain. This kind of pain can be due to benign pathology; or by tumors or cancer cells that are growing larger and crowding other body parts near the cancer site. Nociceptive pain may also be caused by cancer spreading to the bones, muscles, or joints, or that causes the blockage of an organ or blood vessels.
3. Pain is a Protective Response to Perceived Danger
The command center of this alarm system is located in the brain (protected by the skull, the hardest bone in our body). To feel a pain, it is needed a signal reception, but it is not the only requirement. More sensors must be opened and the cell must get to a critical point to the electrical current produced. When the stimulation is close to critical the point the message (and then the pain) can be triggered even with small stimuli. These messages are “translated” into chemical substances released into the synapse (space between one neuron and the other close ones), addressed to our brain.
4. When the Nervous System Feels Safe, Pain May be Reduced
Pain may be reduced by increasing the brain’s perception of safety. Erickson suggests that massage therapists can help reduce pain through helping a client’s nervous system feel safe.