Massage: Relieves More Than Stress
There are many different types of body-work available, the most well-known being massage. Serious and sometimes debilitating diseases can be alleviated through massage. What most people do not realize is that there is a variety of specific massage treatments designed for different health issues.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (symptoms include pain, tingling, burning and numbness of the hand and wrist area) has intensified in the past twenty years. People entering data on their computers, hair stylists, casino dealers, construction workers and anyone else whose job performance includes repetitive motion can be affected.
Sports can also cause repetitive stress injuries to the tendons in the wrist. When the tendons swell, they press against the median nerve, which passes through the same opening between wrist bones and fibrous support tissues. The median nerve transmits sensations from the hand to the brain. If the median nerve becomes pinched, these signals are blocked, causing numbness and tingling. Common treatments include immobilization of the hand, physical therapy and surgery for extreme cases.
Massage therapy eases the symptoms of repetitive stress injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and can increase grip strength, according to a recent study conducted by staff at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami, School of Medicine. The massage routine in the study consisted of stroking of moderate pressure from the fingertips to the elbow. Results of the study showed that the subjects in the massage group had significantly less pain and reduced carpal tunnel symptoms, as well as increased grip strength.
Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow are forms of tendinitis and are sports injuries caused by overuse of the arms, elbows and forearm muscles, the tendons suffer microscopic tears through injury or overuse, which cause pain and inflammation. However, elbow pain does not just afflict tennis players and golfers, it can occur in anyone with overuse of repetitive arm, elbow and wrist movement. These can include baseball players, bowlers, gardeners, house or office cleaners, carpenters, mechanics and assembly-line workers.
A common treatment is to prescribe drugs to mask the pain, however drugs do not ultimately fix the problem. Massage is a much less radical alternative for these issues. Trigger point-massage techniques, even as self-treatments at home can be used to alleviate muscle pain effectively. For carpal tunnel a massage therapist can stretch the tissues that would be cut during surgery, making more room for the tendons and median nerve. Another technique is to shorten the forearm muscles through compression, allowing them to relax. This reduces the tendon inflammation and swelling that trigger the problem in the first place.
Diabetes, a much more serious disease, can cause severe loss of circulation in the extremities. This loss is due to micro vascular disease, where the cholesterol imbalances caused by diabetes result in blockage of the arteries. Eventually the lack of circulation allows infection to occur in the affected tissue. As blockages become extreme, amputation of the extremity may be required.
Regular massage can improve circulation to the extremities. Though massage will not cure diabetes, it can reduce pain in the extremities by increasing blood circulation through the small arteries that the disease is trying to block. Exercise and weight reduction are important factors in diabetes treatment to control blood sugar levels. Patients can tolerate more exercise and get better results by using massage therapy to reduce post-exercise pain and stiffness.
In the state of Nevada licensed massage therapists are required to get continuing education. When you are looking for a massage therapist and you have specific problems you want to address you should find out what areas they specialize in to see if they are a fit for you. For instance, if you are a sport enthusiast you might want to find a therapist trained in sports therapy. There are a number of problems that can quite often be relieved or alleviated by a massage therapist trained for each individual issue.
- Beck, Mark F., Milady’s Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage, 3rd edition, Milady Publishing, Albany, NY.
- Massage Magazine. Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. Originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2004, Vol. 8, pp. 9-14.
- Davies, Claire. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Self-Treatment of Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow, Lateral Epicondylitis, Medial Epicondylitis, Elbow Tendinitis, Elbow Bursitis. 1999-2006.
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