It isn’t easy to live with persistent back or neck pain. According to statistics, spinal pain still accounts for a high percentage of missed days of work. Moreover, chronic stiffness, soreness, and tenderness in the back and neck can severely diminish a person’s quality of life. It comes as no surprise that many people seek therapies such as massage to manage their comfort levels. Because massage is such an accessible therapeutic treatment, it is beneficial to question whether or not this modality is appropriate for addressing spinal issues.
What Massage has to Offer
Scientific research has discovered that massage offers several benefits. Some of them have particular relevance for individuals living with chronic pain. These include:
- Reduced muscle tension. Much of the pain that affects the back occurs in the muscles. Massage can be an excellent remedy for muscle soreness and tightness that results from a hard day at the gym or a long afternoon of yard work. However, it is important to pay close attention to the onset of pain. If the pain is acute and sudden, massage may help somewhat but, ultimately, a thorough examination is necessary to rule out a disc or vertebral injury.
- Improved blood flow. For muscles to heal more rapidly, a healthy supply of blood and nutrients is needed. Massage moves blood into an area of injury to promote this. Studies show that circulation improves with massage regardless of the level of physical activity that is the norm.
- Endorphin release. One of the physiological effects of massage is that the brain releases an increased number of endorphins. These chemicals are involved in mood regulation, and they also have a pain-reducing effect.
Is Massage the Answer?
Massage offers significant benefits for painful muscles; there is no denying that. However, for any person who has suffered a back injury or is experiencing chronic back or neck pain that lasts more than a few weeks, massage alone is not likely to provide lasting comfort. To treat back pain successfully, it is necessary to identify the cause. Care for a herniated disc, vertebral fracture, or spinal tumor differs quite a lot from methods of treatment for muscle pain.
Often, chronic back pain can be relieved without surgery. If surgery is necessary to address a structural problem, you are in good hands at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of chronic back pain, call 212-606-1004.