Quieting Chronic Pain
Massage can ease fibromyalgia and arthritis pain and promote a
better mental outlook
LIKE A BLARING TELEVISION you can't
shut off, chronic pain can drown out your enjoyment of daily
"Some days it feels like someone is inside my head screaming,
'Pain!'" says Katherine Johnson of Broomfield, Colo., who was
diagnosed with fibromyalgia 12 years ago.
People with chronic pain often turn to complementary medicine to
help improve their quality of life. "Most people go to massage
therapists to reduce pain," says Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of
the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of
Medicine in Miami, Fla.
"there's a release of serotonin, which is the body's natural
production of antipain chemicals," Dr. Field says. "There's a
decrease in substance P, which causes pain."
One aggravating factor in pain syndromes can be a lack of deep,
restorative sleep. "Massage is very effective at increasing deep
sleep," Dr. Field says. "With more deep sleep, you have less
substance P emitted, so you have less pain."
Mind and Body Benefits
arthritis are two pain syndromes that can be positively
impacted by massage therapy. In a study of massage therapy for knee
osteoarthritis, a group receiving massage therapy showed
significant improvement in pain, stiffness and physical function.
They increased their range of motion and reduced the time it took
them to walk 50 feet.
In another study, conducted by the Touch Research Institute and
sponsored by Massage Envy, people with arthritis in their wrist and
hand reported less pain and greater grip strength after massage
therapy. They also had lower anxiety and depressed mood scores.
For people with chronic pain, massage therapy can improve
quality of life by impacting mood as well as pain. "When you live
with chronic pain, you have a toolbox of strategies you turn to for
relief," Johnson says. "A pain management doctor actually wrote me
a prescription for massage. I've found that massage can relax both
your mind and your body."
-By Teresa Caldwell Board