photo of facial massage, integrative massage, therapeutic massage, neuromuscular massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, chronic pain

Multiple massage modalities during one session can be very effective to treat chronic pain issues.

Photo, Flickr 

I probably have every massage tool known to mankind at home. I think a good massage is a one of the best physical and mental stress and strain relievers, so I treat myself every few months.

The price is worth the return, times ten.

If I can’t get a massage however, this Homedics chair, a gift from husband and my daughter one Mother’s Day, is the next best thing to hands-on massage. The rollers are strong but not painful, and for the price, I like the flexibility of the easy to use options.

Many people treat their chronic pain due to injury or illness with one kind of massage therapy. Yet, integrative or medical massage may offer a more effective approach.

Medical practitioners often prescribe one type of massage therapy for patient’s with ongoing physical or emotional pain due to injury, trauma or illness. Yet the most effective massage treatment for chronic pain may be a multi-disciplinary or integrative approach, as well massage sessions that engage the patient in the healing process.

Integrative Massage Therapy

Integrative massage offers a more holistic approach to massage therapy, applying a technique according to the kind that will work on various issues in the body (and mind).

During the first session therapists generally gather detailed information about their client’s medical history and past treatments. This lets them tailor the therapy to their patient’s specific physical and emotional needs. They avoid a “one size fits all” massage approach and instead use multiple modalities, borrowing from a wide variety of cultures and practices.

Integrative massage therapists don’t try to diagnose medical conditions, nor do they rely on a client’s current diagnoses to steer the course of treatment. Instead they listen to their client’s symptoms and apply the technique(s) they feel will most effectively address the issues. The therapist serves as a kind of healing “detective,” so to speak, working to pin point the physical and potentially emotional causes behind the patient’s chronic pain.

Integrative Massage Therapy Treats A Number of Chronic Health Conditions

The cause of chronic unexplained pain is complex, yet depending on the condition, integrative massage therapy can effectively treat or alleviate symptoms in a variety of conditions such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel or tendonitis. *(I like Biofreeze for muscle pain. It gives cold therapy when you can’t bother with an ice pack.
  • Poor posture issues
  • Unexplained chronic pain in soft tissue/musculoskeletal system
  • Accident or sports injuries
  • Cancer patient pain management

Integrative Massage Therapy Empowers the Patient

Integrative massage can be very empowering to the patient and a good integrative massage therapist will explain to her patient that she is merely a facilitator to the client’s own ability to heal. Some therapists use positive words and affirmations during sessions to help “re-program” their client’s response to pain and treatment.

In addition, integrative massage therapists often teach their patients an at-home therapy plan that may include cardiovascular and targeted strengthening and stretch exercises, as well as pain and stress management tips. This approach can be quite encouraging for chronic pain sufferers who may been told for years their pain is “all in their head,” were regularly misdiagnosed or have been at the mercy of the traditional medical establishment with no relief.

Integrative Massage Therapies For Chronic Pain

Integrative massage therapists combine any of a number of techniques to relieve chronic pain depending on the patient’s symptoms and the therapist’s certification in a particular massage modality. Some of the common massage modalities used in the treatment of chronic pain include:

  • Neuromuscular therapy
  • CranioSacral therapy
  • Myofascial release
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Orthopedic massage
  • Massage for cancer patients

Integrative Massage Therapy vs. Medical Massage

The term “medical or therapeutic massage” is sometimes used interchangeably with the term integrative massage. Integrative simply implies using a multi-disciplinary massage approach to treat medical conditions. James Waslaskin in his 2004 online article on Massage Today entitled, “Defining Medical Message,” explains that “Medical massage is performed with the intent of improving conditions or pathologies that have been diagnosed by a physician; a wide variety of modalities or procedures are utilized to focus the treatment based on the diagnosed condition.”

Match The Chronic Pain Condition With the Right Kind Of Massage

Any hands on massage work that manipulates soft tissue structures of the body in order to prevent and alleviate pain, discomfort, muscle spasm, stress and promotes health and wellness is beneficial.

If a patient is suffering with from chronic pain the may not want to limit their massage treatments to those that strictly feel good but may not have much healing or long term curative effect. Instead they should find an experienced integrative massage therapist who has the skills to assess which treatments are the most effective for their particular medical conditions.

Additional Reading: 

Vitamin D Deficiency, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety & Depression, Possible Links

Fibromyalgia Pain: Magnesium and Malic Acid Combined More Effective

Vitamin D Deficiency and Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Linked

Copyright Laura Owens. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Site last updated April 29, 2019 @ 2:44 pm; This content last updated August 22, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

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