Pain Relief Through Massage Therapy

In listening to this broadcast this past Wednesday, although I found much of it riveting, I was particularly struck by this section of the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Meier, talk about the role of pain—yes, in sickness, but also in wellness and in how people can cope—and how it’s treated by the medical profession today.

DR. DIANE MEIER: Well, we now know that pain is extremely debilitating and is a major risk factor and predictor for depression, for other illnesses, for social isolation, and actually for increased risk of death. So this notion that somehow pain is purifying or that it’s noble to suffer with the pain or that it has a certain moral positive valance to grit your teeth and suffer through it is actually completely false. And we now know that untreated pain is really bad for your health, aside from the fact that it causes a great deal of suffering.

Unfortunately, most physicians and nurses receive little or no training on the identification and appropriate treatment and safe treatment of pain. And as is true in many professions, when there’s an area that you don’t know much about and you’re not very comfortable with, most people tend to assume it couldn’t be that important, because if it was really important, then they would have been taught how to deal with it and how to take care of patients with it. So we do see a lot of the health professions turning away from patients who are in pain or minimizing the importance of treating that pain, mostly because those health professionals actually don’t know how to address it. And one of the things that the palliative care field is heavily focused on doing is improving the training of the next generation of doctors and nurses and other health professionals, so that people in pain will have the expertise—have access to the expertise they need, because there are a number of ways to safely and effectively treat pain. It’s just that our healthcare providers need to know how to do it.

Democracy Now show host Amy Goodman’s March 24th interview with Dr. Diane Meier, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York

What I was struck most by is Dr. Meier’s assertion that many health professionals, particularly those not trained in knowing how to address pain, are turning away from patients who are in pain or are minimizing the importance of treating the pain. One great advantage of seeing a massage therapist is that a properly credentialed and trained massage therapist will know how to listen to the pain suffering client and can often bring palliative measures specifically designed to relieve pain into the treatment session. There is a strong focus, particularly in Neuromuscular Therapy and CranioSacral work, in Not minimizing the importance of treating pain, and of, instead, working diligently to root out the cause of the pain and facilitate the elimination of the conditions causing it.

Consider several of these well documented research studies that connect the use of massage therapy with the relief of pain:

Kempson, D, Conley, V, Family Caregiver Provided Massage for Rural-Dwelling Chronically Ill Persons, Home Health Care Management & Practice Online, November, 2008

Piotrowski, M., Paterson, C., Mitchinson, A., Kim, H. M., Kirsh, M., Hinshaw, D. B. (2003). Massage as Adjuvant Therapy in the Management of Acute Postoperative Pain: A Preliminary Study in Men. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 197(6), 1037-1046

Beider, Shay (2005). An Ethical Argument for Integrated Palliative Care. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Nabb MT, Kimber L, Haines A, McCourt C. Does regular massage from late pregnancy to birth decrease maternal pain perception during labour and birth?–A feasibility study to investigate a programme of massage, controlled breathing and visualization, from 36 weeks of pregnancy until birth.Psychological/Emotional. Complement Their Clin Pract. 2006 Aug;12(3):222-31. Epub 2006 Jun 5

(Above research studies are listed at:

American Massage Therapy Association lists this statistic among those on its 2009 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet:
“While the use of massage is growing, the reasons people are turning to massage therapy are also expanding. More and more people recognize it as an important element in their overall health and wellness.”

* Almost one-fourth of adult Americans say they’ve used massage therapy at least one time for pain relief.”


~ by charl7 on March 28, 2010.

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