Massage Therapy and Pain Relief
Blanche Fernandes, RMT
Cost of Pain
Back pain alone will affect around 59% -84% of the global population. Many of these patients, 10% - 20%, will experience some form of chronic low back pain, that’s pain lasting more than 3 months.
If we put this into perspective, chronic low back pain could affect up to 1.2 billion people a year globally. The statistics indicate that in 2016, total health expenditure in Canada was expected to reach $228 billion.[i] (That figure encompasses all health care – physical, mental, emotional). In Canada, the cost of medical expenditures just for low back pain is estimated between $6 billion and $12 billion annually.[ii]
Over 11 million Canadians suffer from low back pain each year.[iii] If you develop back pain, what will the cost be to you? Will you be able to earn a living? How will it affect your family? Your quality of life?
Does Massage Reduce Pain?
The numbers above are shocking; however there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Taking good care of your body through proper posture, rest and exercise is a start. Pursuing the services of various health care practitioners is an excellent way to get you back on track in good time. Maintaining regular care, with your health care professional, can be a significant way to minimize the possibility of you experiencing chronic back pain in your life.
Massage therapy is one tool that can assist you on your road to good health and reduce your back pain. Researchers at the Mashhad University of medical science experimented by combining massage and exercise.[i] They discovered after 12 weeks that massage, with supportive exercise, increased quality of life, reduced pain and alleviated mental stress! Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
RMT’s can assist with many kinds of pain – headaches, migraines, carpal tunnel, TMJ syndrome, sciatica, whiplash, overuse injuries, frozen shoulder, sprains –to name a few.
Massage Therapy been shown to have fantastic benefits on all kinds of pain. Studies show patients significantly reduced their feelings of pain after massage therapy; together with this, their levels of anxiety and depression were reported to be significantly lower.[ii] If you reduce your stress levels you will heal faster and better.
Can Massage Help You?
If you are suffering with either mental stress or physical pain, the chances are massage therapy will help you. Any kind of pain is usually combined with a tension in the muscles, either to protect, or to support uncomfortable structures; this in turn will put pressure on your posture and may cause ‘referred pain’. In addition, it is very common that other areas of the body will attempt to compensate, and additional muscles will become tight and uncomfortable, causing more discomfort and pain.
In a recent guideline, The American College of Physicians now recommends nonpharmacologic therapies — including superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation — as first-line treatment for patients with acute or subacute low back pain (lasting 12 weeks or less).[i]
Massage therapy is a fantastic way to assist with straightening out, strengthening and lengthening any postural problems. You can expect to feel an instant relief from muscle pain, headache, abdominal pain. It also works in wonderful symphony with the nervous system, encouraging the body to ‘let go’, release endorphins and boost blood and lymph circulation. This communication through the body allows for improved nutrient and oxygen distribution to the tissues. You can expect to feel both incredibly relaxed and revitalised after your treatment - a new you!
Sometimes a course of treatments will be recommended to treat some conditions, although the majority of clients report a reduction in pain just from the first session! The number of sessions and frequency you will need is usually determined by the nature of your injury, if it is acute or chronic, what the initial assessment reveals, and your ability to heal.
I encourage you to have regular massage sessions to maintain a healthy body and mind, it doesn’t have to be every week or even every month, but if you can spare a little time every now and then for yourself, you’ll feel great for making the decision to do something good for yourself.
If you’re in pain and not sure what to do, talk to your registered massage therapist. We’ll always take the time to talk to you first, find out where the problem may be stemming from and treat you non-invasively, comfortably and with assurance that your best interests are our priority. We may ask for your doctor’s permission in some cases, but we don’t turn people away. We have therapies to offer that are suitable for everybody, whatever your condition.
Blanche Fernandes, RMT, brings over 20 years of experience to her practice. You can learn more about Blanche on her practitioner profile.
 Orthopaedic Care Strategy Group. 2010. Building a Collective Policy Agenda for Musculoskeletal Health and Mobility.
 Khanzadeh, R, Rahimi. M, Javaheri., Kashani, F, 2014. Efficacy of Combined Therapeutic Protocol (Kinesiotherapy and Massage) on Dynamic Equilibrium in the Male Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain Due To Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease International. Journal of Sport Studies. Vol., 4 (7), 793-798.
 Adams, R., White, B., Beckett, C., 2010. The Effects of Massage Therapy on Pain Management in the Acute Care Setting. Int. J. Ther Massage Bodywork. 3(1): 4–11
 Qaseem, A, MD, PhD, MHA; Wilt, T J., MD, MPH; McLean, Robert M., MD; Mary Forciea, A, MD; for the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians, 2017. Noninvasive Treatments for Acute, Subacute, and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017; 166(7):514-530.