Gone are the days when “getting a massage” meant spending hours at a luxurious spa, wrapped in a white towel, slathered in exotic oils and sipping herbal tea with soft, tinkling music in your ear.
Nowadays, more people are hiring massage therapists not as an occasional extravagance, but as part of their health regimen. A 2011 consumer survey by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) shows that 86 percent of people see massage as beneficial to their overall health and wellness, and 90 percent think of it as an effective way to reduce pain. Among those surveyed, 31 percent used massage for pain relief in 2011, compared to 25 in 2010. The 2011 figure is more than triple the number of respondents who said they used acupuncture to quell pain.
For such a popular practice as massage, surprisingly few studies have been done on its effectiveness—but consumers and practitioners aren’t waiting for the research to catch up: According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), more than 42 percent of hospitals offer “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) services, which can include herbal medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, diet and acupuncture. Massage therapy was in the top two services provided, both inpatient and outpatient.
Tanya Edwards, M.D., director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, isn’t surprised. “Massage can be overwhelmingly relaxing,” she says, adding that massage therapy is her center’s third most-requested service after acupuncture and holistic psychology. “It impacts mood and pain very quickly. People are looking for gentler ways to treat certain disorders—ways that help them decrease the drugs they take.”
Massage therapy does affect patients biologically, contributing to their sense of well-being after a session. A 2009 study published in Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine found that just one Swedish massage session modestly decreased the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in participants’ blood and saliva, as well as their levels of arginine vasopressin, a hormone that can boost cortisol levels. Their lymphocytes, white blood cells connected to the immune system, increased. At West End Chiropractic and Wellness our Massage Therapists provide many different massage styles to meet your specific needs.
Patients use massage for treating a variety of conditions. Among them are:
Chronic lower back pain: A July study found that participants who had received massage were still experiencing less pain than those who had received other care, and were better able to perform daily activities 10 weeks after their massage.
Pain and mood in cancer patients: The pain and distress experienced by cancer patients can be positively affected with massage therapy, according to a 2008 study conducted at 15 hospices across the U.S. Patients experienced immediate relief.
Psychological and physical distress in children: Massage therapy has been shown to reduce pain and anxiety in children with cancer and blood diseases.
“Depression, anxiety and chronic pain are three of the top conditions treated by our primary care physicians,” Edwards says, “so our massage therapists treating people with these problems are very busy.” Cleveland Clinic therapists also treat patients with arthritis, migraine headaches, and some gastrointestinal disorders with massage therapy. Healthcare workers elsewhere have reported benefits in lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation and improving sleep.
Edwards offers one cautionary note: “Patients with fibromyalgia need to be very careful when they get a massage,” she says. “Deep-tissue work can be extremely painful. Fibromyalgia patients need a much gentler touch.”
CONNECT THE DOTS
Massage can benefit patients in so many ways, whether its getting rid of neck pain, back pain or helping with fibromyalgia, our massage therapists at West End Chiropractic can help you. To learn more about the overall health benefits of massage therapy from a skilled professional at West End Chiropractic and Wellness in St. Louis Park, Minnesota contact us. Our office is located on the edge of St.Louis Park and Minneapolis, Mn off Hwy 100 and Hwy 394. Visit us at www.westendchiromn.com or call us at (952) 500-8477.