Studies showed, “In 2016, approximately 20% of U.S. adults had chronic pain (approximately 50 million), and 8% of U.S. adults (approximately 20 million) had high-impact chronic pain.” Chronic pain patients also struggle with tense muscles, which can be caused by many reasons. Muscle tension can be extremely painful, and reduce range of motion, contributing to reduced activity.

An increased stress level can cause chronic pain in patients, including co-morbid health conditions, deconditioning through reduced functioning and more. Muscle tension can be painful, and reduce the patient’s range of motion, contributing to reduced activity levels. Massage can help release the tension in the muscles, relieving pain and increasing relaxation.

A Pathways study also found, “During massage, levels of serotonin were increased by 28% and levels of dopamine were increased by 31%. Serotonin is a chemical within our bodies that, among other vital jobs, helps maintain our mood. It promotes happiness and a feeling of emotional well-being. Dopamine plays a vital part in how we feel pleasure and experience joy. It also helps us feel motivated and stay focused on the task at hand.”

When these two chemicals are increased, we’re more likely to have a stable positive mindset. Our thoughts influence pain, so a healthier mood can help reduce stress and negative thinking about pain, in turn reducing pain. If the hope for a future free from pain exists, it’s much easier to keep motivated about treatments.

According to NIH, “About 70% of people who take medication for chronic pain have what’s called breakthrough pain. These are flare-ups of pain that happen even when you’re taking your pain meds regularly. Sometimes breakthrough pain can come out of the blue. Or something minor that seems unimportant, such as rolling over in bed. And sometimes it may happen when pain medication wears off before it’s time for the next dose.”

Many people do not realize the effects of tension on our bodies. Once stressors are identified, the brain begins to put the body into a state of fight or flight, causing real physical effects in the body. Over time, the brain and central nervous system learn to continue to put the body into a painful state, which repeats the pain cycle.

How it Works

As pain persists, it becomes chronic, a more complex situation. Modern research shows that psychological and emotional elements can play a major role. These non-physical components can help the brain “learn” to be in pain, rewiring the neural circuitry to perpetuate the sensation of pain. However, when proper therapeutic treatment is needed, the brain can ‘unlearn’ pain, paving the way to relief.  Research shows that methods like education, writing, meditation, visualization, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help the brain stop this recurring pain cycle. 

Other classifications of pain

Pain is often categorized by the type of damage it can cause. The two main sources of pain are tissue damage (also called nociceptive pain) and nerve damage (also called neuropathic pain).

A third category is psychogenic pain — affected by psychological factors. Psychogenic pain often has a physical origin, either tissue damage or nerve damage. But the pain worsens or lasts longer because of things like fear, depression, stress, or anxiety. In some cases, pain comes from a psychological condition. Pain is also classified by the type of tissue involved or by the part of the body affected. As an example, pain may be referred to as muscle pain or joint pain, or a doctor may ask about chest or back pain. In other cases, pain can be due to a syndrome, such as Fibromyalgia.

 Massage Treatment for Pain

Massage therapy plays a significant role in many pain management approaches. Massage is commonly used to treat various health conditions and can provide positive results.

“Massage therapy is defined as, “patterned and purposeful manipulation of soft tissue for therapeutic purposes to prevent or reduce pain, spasm, tension or stress and to promote health and wellness,” as this 2019 study explains.

Massage therapy increases blood flow to improve body function and keep the immune system healthy. It can also help lymphatic drainage, allowing the body to rid itself of toxins and disease. Removal of these toxins can help the body fight fatigue, which often comes with pain. Not to mention, increased blood flow and lymphatic drainage can help reduce inflammation. Like pain, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can have negative effects, including worsening chronic pain symptoms.

Another study on the effect of massage therapy on fibromyalgia patients found that those who had a regular massage could sleep deeper and much longer. Insomnia is a prevalent problem in chronic pain. Lack of sleep has many negative impacts, including reduced energy, unstable mood, reduced cognitive ability, and immune response. So, by improving a patient’s ability to sleep, the body and mind can heal, thereby improving functionality during waking hours.

When massage therapy is combined with other treatments for psychological aspects of chronic pain, it can be highly successful. In particular, when massage is combined with exercise and pain neuroscience education, it can bring excellent results. A Valley of Vitality Wellness Studio offers a unique massage service called VRT, designed to assist patients with chronic pain.

             Physiopedia states, “A fascia is a layer of fibrous tissue. A fascia is a structure of connective tissue that surrounds muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding some structures together while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other. Various kinds of the fascia may be distinguished.”

The key to releasing tightness, soothing aches, and freeing the body is in your fascia. Pain is often a symptom due to a restriction in the system.  A customized 60-minute modality targets blockages in the fascial system and works deep down in the connective tissue to remove restrictions, thereby relaxing and rehydrating those tissues. Over time, this can support a life of vitality and living a happy active lifestyle. If you are interested in learning more, or booking an appointment please A Valley of Vitality.