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Many people suffer from myofascial pain (a fancy word for pain originating in muscles or other soft tissues). They have visited doctor after doctor finally to be told "We can't find anything wrong with you." The solution is often medication, which works until the medication wears off. Sometimes operations are performed when the problem can be addressed, and possibly eliminated, by massage.

I started this blog to educate people about what massage can and cannot do. Here you'll find articles about conditions that can be improved or addressed with massage. You'll find information about different types of massage, their benefits and limitations. I'll address how you can use massage on your own to improve your performance in exercise or sports (or in other repetitive motion activities such as playing the guitar or working at a computer).

Use the search bar below to search for specific problems. If you don't find what you're looking for, please email and ask me. You can find my email address below on the right, under "about me". Click on "View my complete profile".


DISCLAIMER: I am a massage therapist, NOT a doctor. This blog is NOT intended as medical advice. No information herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a licensed physician. The opinions expressed here are my own. The author will assume no liability for use of the information contained herein.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Muscles and Pain

"Voluntary (skeletal) muscle is the largest single organ of the human body and accounts for nearly 50% of body weight." --Travel and Simons "Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual"

If you have a skin problem you go to a dermatologist. For a heart problem you'd want to visit a cardiologist. Even feet have their own doctor, the podiatrist. What doctor would you see for muscle problems? There is no type of specialty in the medical field.

Problems with muscles can cause widespread pain. One simple way of addressing this pain is with medication. However, medication often only masks pain which returns when the medication wears off. Another solution is surgery which sometimes only produces short term relief. More conservative methods of treatment, such as muscle manipulations (massage), can often manage pain effectively and in many cases eliminate the pain completely.

We often neglect muscles as our cause of pain or discomfort. It seems almost counter intuitive that muscles can cause such widespread pain. In one study of 96 patients seeking pain relief from a neurologist, 93% of the patients had some part of their pain caused by muscle dysfunction. In a full 74% of those patients muscle dysfunction was the primary cause of pain.

If you're seeking massage for pain, not all types of massage are equal. In my experience, a massage therapist with training in neuromuscular therapy (NMT) and a sound knowledge of anatomy is the best option for tackling pain. In addition to finding a therapist, a person must be willing to learn to work on their own problems by addressing neuromuscular trigger points (in fact, you can get a great deal of benefit without a therapist if you learn to treat your problems yourself). There are two tools I recommend for anyone seeking relief from muscle pain. The first is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies and the second is the body back buddy or the theracane (I prefer the trigger point pro by theracane but it is no longer made). Tennis balls are another good thing to have (I'll go into why in a later post). I don't get any money from these recommendations (though I wish I did, because I recommend them all the time). Good luck!

To be clear, some of the claims made by trigger point research and by trigger point therapists should be taken with a grain of salt. People selling a therapy are often over zealous in their promotion of that therapy and I have so say many claims made regarding myofascial trigger points are shaky at best. However, I do find that addressing points of pain with mental focus and relaxation, seems to offer therapeutic results in many clients.


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