Your Guide To Doctors, Health Information, and Better Health!
Your Health Magazine Logo
The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Christina Miller, LMT, CMT
Stress, Pain, and the Massage Effect
Alexandria Massage Therapy

Stress, Pain, and the Massage Effect

Can massage therapy reduce pain? To talk about this, it is important to understand pain.

How pain feels is a combination of what is causing the pain and how the receiver perceives that pain. How we each perceive pain is different due to our individual hormone levels, the effect our past experience with pain, and our current psychological state.

Cortisol is a life sustaining adrenal hormone, which, when called upon by stress, shuts down unnecessary functions like reproduction and the immune system. Stress has become a chronic issue. What that means for us is that it is easy to experience cortisol shutting down your “unnecessary” systems on a long-term basis.

To understand the long-term effect of cortisol, imagine going weeks or months without testosterone to boost your workout, being unable to properly process sodium in order to void it from the body, and being unable to absorb calcium so that bones and muscles can't grow. Calcium, in fact, when in deficit, increases occurrences of muscle cramps.

Fibromyalgia patients deal with chronic pain, joint rigidity, intense fatigue, anxiety, and depression. Multiple studies show that massage is effective for reducing anxiety, depression, pain, and difficulty sleeping. The studies also reported a reduction in analgesic use while receiving regular massage.

Isn't being in pain rather stressful too? Constant pain heightens our stress levels. A higher stress level is associated with higher pain. The relationship of pain and stress is, itself, a downward spiral. On the other hand, relaxing brings those cortisol levels back down.

To illustrate the effects of massage, 605 veterans undergoing major surgery were studied. The group who received massage experienced short-term decreases, and a faster rate of decrease in pain intensity and unpleasantness. They did not heal more quickly, but they felt better sooner.

Massage probably isn't going to “fix” your pain, or prevent it from returning, but there are definitely benefits whether you have chronic pain, acute pain due to surgery or injury, or general muscle tension.

Keep in mind, there are times when getting a massage isn't in your best interest. Damage to the skin, inflammation, and certain health conditions will be cause for concern. When in doubt, ask your doctor.

All in all, you can bet that if your stress is painful or if your pain is stressing you out, relief can be found under the caring touch of two well-trained hands.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130