My biggest challenge working with many of my chronic pain clients is trying to convince them to believe that they can enjoy a pain free
Myofascial Cervical Stretch
life. Unfortunately, many of them are so resigned to living with the discomfort; they don’t believe it can be removed.
The good news: It is possible to eliminate your chronic pain if you believe it’s possible; you don’t have to live with it any longer.
The sad news: If you have endured chronic pain for a long time and have tried without success to get rid of it, you may unfortunately be so resigned to living with it that you may have lost hope and choose to do nothing.
Clients Living with chronic soft tissue pain and tension from stress for months and sometimes years, identifying so strongly with their painful condition, find it difficult to even acknowledge significant improvement during their rehabilitation process, and after a successful outcome. There seems to be a disconnect in the body-mind connection, making it difficult to accept their pain-free status right away.
In some cases like this, even with notable improvement, where for example, a client who presents with frozen shoulder and is only able to raise their arm to the side 90 degrees (abduction), and after treatment are able to raise it above their head to 180 degrees (full range of motion), still find it difficult, even with my encouragement, to acknowledge the fact that they can now raise their arm all the way above their head. They will finally say something like, “well, it seems to be better”.
After a successful outcome, I instruct my clients in specific home self-care exercises and stretches to lengthen and strengthen the effected muscles , re-establish new healthy muscle memory, and strongly encourage them to do the homework because if they don’t their dysfunctional condition will more than likely return within 48 hours.
Lateral stretch of forehead to relieve headache
fibro (fibrous tissue) my (muscles) algia (pain)
- Chronic pain in muscles and soft tissue and surrounding joints
- Aches in neck, trunk, and hips
- Morning stiffness
- Disrupted non-restful sleep
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Anxiety and depression
- Diarrhea and irritable bowel
- Stomach and digestive problems
- Shortness of breath
It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can be a beneficial part of an integrative treatment plan for those who suffer with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).
“Fibromyalgia syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms that include chronic pain in muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues. It is one of a collection of chronic disorders that often go hand in hand. [sic] FMS is frequently seen with chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, sleep disorders and several other chronic conditions.”1
According to the National Institutes of Health, “Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia affects 5 million Americans 18 or older. Between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. However, men and children also can have the disorder.”2 A survey conducted with those who have FMS indicates that 98% of those surveyed used some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help manage their disorder.3 In that study, the researchers found that 44% of those surveyed chose massage therapy.3 In other evidence, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) states: ” Fibromyalgia is another pain condition frequently seen by health care providers, and one in which there often is no universally effective treatment. Studies have found that up to 91 percent of people with fibromyalgia use some form of CAM, and up to 75 percent use therapeutic massage & bodywork.”12
Although some sample sizes are small, research indicates that in respect to fibromyalgia syndrome, clinical massage can:
- reduce pain4, 5, 7, 8, 10
- improve health status4
- improve quality of life11
- decrease anxiety4, 7, 10
- decrease depression4, 5, 7, 8
- increase sleep hours4
- increase quality of sleep4, 8, 10
- improve quality of sleep over time10
- reduce tender points4
- decrease urinary CRF-LI (a biochemical marker of stress-related symptoms)5
- decrease use of analgesics7
- decrease cortisol levels8, 9
- decrease stiffness8
- decrease fatigue8
- work well in an integrative treatment plan3, 11, 12, 13
References: Available from www.amtamassage.org – AMTA position statements
Absolutely not! When I first started practicing, I’m sure that more than a few of my clients suffered through uncomfortable deep tissue bodywork sessions because I, like so many other new therapists and clients, believed the adage: No Pain, No Gain.
Working too deep too quickly produces pain, sometimes intense, becomes counterproductive causing the muscles to contract and tighten up to protect the adjacent tissue from further damage, sabotages our goal of lengthening and softening the injured tissue, and results in an ineffective painful session for our client.
One of my instructors, James Waslaski, who teaches Orthopedic Massage & Pain Management Seminars worldwide, and is the author of Clinical Massage therapy, A Structural Approach to Pain Management, recognized for his revolutionary technique
Stretching Soft Tissues of Cranial Base
for successfully treating adhesive capsulitis and frozen shoulder, says “pain-free joint capsule work is imperative for success in treating this condition.”