More than 15 percent of the population suffers from chronic pain related to the joints and musculoskeletal system.  Lack of exercise combined with obesity, occupation related physical stress, sports and hobby related injuries and other phenomena contribute to this statistic.  Many people choose massage therapy, often after suffering for a long time and not finding resolution with other treatments.

Chronic pain is a pain sensation that lingers longer than would be expected, versus acute pain from a recent injury.  Chronic pain may start acutely, from an injury for example, and then remain for a disproportionate period of time.  It can then transform into a more diffuse, longer-lasting pain condition.

Most recent research is showing that fibromyalgia pain originates in the muscles (not in the head).  The role of massage is particularly beneficial for this condition.  Those with chronic fatigue syndrome also frequently experience debilitating, body-wide pain.

Chronic pain complaints may develop either from or into an interactive process involving metabolic factors, such as food or allergies; psychological stressors; chemical or environmental impacts; or any number of sensory system irritants.  This produces an over-activity of the sympathetic nervous system - the system in “high-gear” during the fight-or-flight response.  Prolonged, excess sympathetic system activity can generate  pain in various regions of the body.  Factors that become perpetuating include insomnia, poor sleep, lack of exercise or movement, fatigue, and psychological stress and depression.

According to Rolfing and Feldenkrais practitioner Robert Schleip, “our body’s richest sensory organ is not the nose, ears, eyes, or mouth – but rather the myofascial system”.  With the largest amount of sensory information coming in to the central nervous system through the myofascial tissues, massage therapists have a great opportunity to decrease the barrage of nervous system input from pain receptors.

By addressing different areas of the body, soft-tissue therapists can change the entire sensorimotor experience for the individual.  Massage therapy is an intervention that reduces the noxious input from the myofascial tissues.  By decreasing this input and reducing the sensitivity of the neural pain receptors, massage therapy is able to break the perpetual cycle of pain.   

Chronic pain may also involve trigger points.  These are areas of tissue with ischemia and lactic acid build up.  Trigger points can create local nerve fiber impairment or aggravation, leading to increased pain.  Many times, soft-tissue pain is not produced by a local tissue, but is referred from some other location.  Therapists recognize the characteristics of referred pain sensation and adapt their therapy accordingly.

Massage is beneficial in improving sleep, reducing anxiety and stress levels.  For many, finding relief through skillful soft-tissue therapy can be a life-changing experience.  Call the office and book your massage today!  802-655-0354

Chiropractic Economics, The Soft-tissue Solution, Whitney Lowe, September 21, 2011, p. 76

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