Category Archives: Chronic Conditions

Tired and Achy All the Time?

Tired and Achy All the Time?

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In recognition of March as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month, we share information on the benefits of massage therapy for this exhausting condition.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a distinct collection of signs and symptoms that affect multiple systems in the body. It varies in severity from mildly limiting to completely debilitating. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officially named this condition in 1988, purposely keeping the name general to include all patients with the wide variety of symptoms that characterize this condition.

The central defining symptom of CFS is extreme fatigue/exhaustion that is not relieved by rest. It may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, slight fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches, excessive pain after mild exertion, short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, and/or depression, in addition to non-restorative sleep.

Other symptoms of CFS are prolific and may include: digestive disturbances, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, morning muscle stiffness, and others. There is much crossover between CFS, fibromyalgia, lupus and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as psychological problems relating to living with chronic pain.

Primary CFS treatment consists of making lifestyle choices that support optimum wellness and immune function: stress management, moderate dietary choices, gentle exercise and adequate sleep. Many CFS patients are hypersensitive to medications, and often find that a lower dosage is adequate.

Massage therapy is  helpful for CFS patients in the following ways:

Pain relief

Improved sleep

Lower anxiety levels

Cleanses blood and tissues

Increases endorphin production (“happy” hormones)

Decreases cortisol production (stress hormones)

Relieves depression

Stimulates circulation when exercise may exacerbate pain.

The caring support of the therapist, combined with skilled touch, has the potential to make CFS less isolating for patients suffering from this debilitating syndrome.

Give us a call to learn more about info and SPECIAL OFFERS THIS MONTH for CFS patients.

Pacific Massage Services: 808.885.4459.

Massage Therapy for Diabetes

Massage Therapy for Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The health benefits of massage are varied, but can it help in the management of diabetes? Find out what’s proven to work best, and what should you know about massage therapy for diabetes.

As more Americans incorporate CAM modalities into their health care, people with diabetes are also looking to complement their lifestyle with integrated medical care. Massage Therapy is a commonly-used modality for patients with diabetes. Learn how it can help you or a loved one with diabetes.

Abstract in Brief

Massage is among the fastest growing CAM therapies used in the United States. Here we present a brief review of the available evidence on potential benefits and adverse effects of massage for people with diabetes: Massage at injection sites may increase insulin absorption; uncontrolled studies suggest that massage may have a positive effect on blood glucose levels and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy; randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm any short- and long-term benefits of massage as a complementary treatment for diabetes and to further define an optimal massage treatment.

This article aims to clarify what is and is not known about the use of Massage Therapy for people with diabetes, with 4 frequently asked questions.

1. Can Massage Improve Insulin Absorption?

Our search found one study on insulin absorption in Type 1 diabetes. No studies were found on insulin absorption in Type 2 diabetes. Dillon observed that eight lean, well-controlled patients with Type 1 diabetes who massaged their insulin injection sites with an electric vibrator for 3 minutes at 15 minutes post-injection, experienced higher insulin levels and lower serum glucose levels by 15 minutes after the start of massage and 29 minutes post-injection, but these changes were not statistically significant. More significantly, serum glucose levels fell 8.3% lower (P < 0.05) 30 minutes after massage and 44 minutes post-injection compared to the control day when participants did not massage their injection sites. At 45 minutes post-massage, the difference in glucose levels was even more striking (76 mg/dl ± 6%) when compared to the control day (89 mg/dl ± 4%).

The same report revealed 2-year follow-up data on these eight patients, as well as on 18 others who had been massaging their injection sites for 3 minutes at each meal in order to achieve a  beneficial postprandial rise in insulin levels. After 3–6 months of massage, the mean HbA1 for the 26 patients fell from 10.56 ±1.73 to 8.55±1.69%. (Normal HbA1 was <8.2% according to the laboratory assay used.) After 12-18 months of injection-site massage, 8 patients had normal HbA1 levels, and the remaining 18 patients had mean HbA1 levels of 8.41 ±1.58%, a significant improvement from baseline (P < 0.001). Dillon proposed that injection-site massage can improve conventional insulin therapy by increasing the bioavailability of insulin in the postprandial state.

2. Can Massage Help Normalize Blood Glucose Levels?

Three published results of two trials and one unpublished preliminary study have examined the effects of massage on normalizing blood glucose.

Fields and colleagues, describing a single-group, pre/post-test design in two publications of the same study population, reported that after 1 month of parents administering nightly full-body massage to their  diabetic children (n = 14), the children’s glucose levels decreased from an average of 158 to 118 mg/dl. The authors also reported that both parents’ and children’s anxiety and depression levels decreased immediately after massage.

Vest trained clinical staff to administer 15-minute sessions of breathing instruction, light touch and acupressure to diabetic patients for 6 consecutive weeks using a one-group, pre/post-test design (n = 12). Patients had a reduction in blood glucose, anxiety, headaches, depression, work stress and anger. Self-reports also indicated the patients were sleeping better and had improved family relations. No P values were cited.

Preliminary data were available from one small trial comparing people with Type 2 diabetes receiving 45-minute full-body massage three times a week for 12 weeks (n = 6) to similar patients on a waiting list for massage (n = 2). Researchers found that of the 6 patients receiving massage, HbA1c decreased in 3 patients from a baseline of 7.9, 8.3, and 9.8% to 7.3, 8.1, and 8.6%, respectively. In the other three patients receiving massage, HbA1c increased from a baseline of 7.4, 8.2, and 8.0% to 7.9, 10.0, and 8.5%, respectively. These patients, whose glycemic control deteriorated while receiving massage, were obese, injecting insulin, or both. None of the group whose glycemic control improved with massage had either of these characteristics. In the waiting list control group, HbA1c level also declined from 7.3 and 8.6% to 6.9 and 8.4%, respectively.

3. Can Massage Provide Relief for Symptoms Associated With Diabetic Neuropathy?

Our search found one trial assessing the effects of massage on the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. This single-group, pre/post-test design assessed 25 patients with symmetrical diabetic neuropathy of the lower extremities and complaints of burning, tingling, pain, itching, restless legs, paresthesia and loss of reflexes. The duration of disease was 6–17 years, and the duration of neuropathic symptoms averaged 14 months. Massage was administered every 2 days, with the total number of treatments ranging from 20 to 30 in those who appeared to benefit. Therapy was discontinued after the tenth treatment for those who experienced no benefit.

Subjective outcomes were defined as no effect, improved or good. At the 1-month follow-up, results showed good response in 14 cases (56%), improvement in 8 cases (32%), and no effect in 3 cases (12%).

Question #4: What Contraindications or Precautions Are Related to Massage for People With Diabetes?

A potential adverse effect of massage for diabetes appears to be the risk of inducing hypoglycemia in insulin-using patients. This risk is extrapolated from massage studies using healthy volunteers. None of the studies of massage and diabetes reports adverse effects.

In the study of massage for diabetic neuropathy, Kurashova specifically cites contraindications and precautions for people with diabetes. In the beginning, it is recommended to use only continuous effleurage. Massage should begin with 5-7 minutes on the back, then proceed to the posterior thigh and calf. 20-30 minutes total on the posterior body; then 10–15 minutes on anterior extremities. For patients with peripheral nerve damage, gentle friction of the lower extremities can be added only after 7–10 treatments of effleurage have been completed.

Because vascular dysfunction may render the tissues fragile, friction should be light to avoid vascular damage or bruising. In swollen areas, friction should be avoided because the direct pressure into the tissues that is characteristic of friction may further close the dysfunctioning vessels. Pressure should be sufficiently light to cause no pain.

SUMMARY

Massage at an insulin injection site can significantly increase serum insulin action, thereby decreasing blood glucose levels in people with Type 1 diabetes. It is unknown whether massage can improve insulin sensitivity and therefore be a useful adjunct to management of Type 2 diabetes.

Uncontrolled studies suggest that massage may help normalize blood glucose and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to further clarify what an optimal massage treatment might be and to elucidate any short- and long-term benefits of massage as a complementary treatment for diabetes.

Kids Can Have Arthritis Too

Kids Can Have Arthritis Too

In recognition of July as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, we share this information about this painful disease that affects children and teens.

Image result for juvenile arthritis monthArthritis isn’t just one disorder. It’s a complicated set of musculoskeletal disorders made up from over 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues. The symptoms cause pain, limit movement, and can halt an otherwise active person’s life.

In the US, almost 300,000 of those affected by arthritis are kids. Juvenile arthritis (JA) is a broad way to describe a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger. The cause is unknown and it can appear in many different ways.

Children Can Be Diagnosed With Arthritis

We usually associate arthritis with middle-aged and elderly adults, not children and teenagers. Stiff joints, pain and swelling for more than 6 weeks are associated with arthritis. Eyes, skin and the gastrointestinal tract can also be affected in children. It is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body is attacking itself instead of a foreign body such as a virus. If your child or teen seems to always have a tummy ache and complains of joint pain it could be a good idea to visit your doctor for a chat.

There is No Known Cause

Parents of children with a JA diagnosis wonder “What caused this?” Unfortunately the answer is usually, “We don’t know for sure.” Researchers are looking at genetic and environmental factors which may contribute to the development of JA, but they have found no specific cause. There isn’t one single blood test to diagnose. Studies are trying to determine if siblings of children with JA will also develop symptoms.

Common Signs of Juvenile Arthritis

Complaints of painful knees, hands, feet, neck, or jaw common symptoms. This pain is common first thing in the morning or upon waking from naps. Arthritis pain tends to appear slowly, not suddenly like an injury.

Stiffness in the joints is another sign of arthritis. Usually the stiffness will be worse in the morning but improve with movement throughout the day. Some children may stop doing certain things. Has your toddler stopped using utensils to eat when he has been wielding a fork for months? See if you can determine if he’s in pain or just exploring with his fingers.

Swelling of a joint or joints is a strong sign a child might need an evaluation. The joint may be hot to the touch, as well. Often a child with JA will develop fevers with fatigue but no other symptoms of illness.

Treatments for Juvenile Arthritis

Even though there is no cure for JA, doctors will have a treatment plan for each patient. Treatments may include medication, physical therapy, nutrition, and eye care. One patient may respond well with medication while others may do better with movement or physical therapy. The whole family will work together in an effort to maintain normalcy for the patient. Adjustments to schedules may happen, but there’s no need to quit living life altogether.

Massage as a Treatment

We all know massage feels great on sore muscles, but can it help with the stiffness of arthritis? Maybe! We know massage can have a positive effect on blood pressure and anxiety. A study at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey looked at people with osteoarthritis of the knee. The people who received a Swedish (or relaxation) massage twice a week for 8 weeks reported improvement in pain levels and function.

Massage for children and teens can be beneficial in many ways. Regular massage helps manage painful symptoms and can help improve self-awareness, self-image, and self-confidence. Parents can even work with a massage therapist to learn soothing techniques to apply at home. Massage for arthritis is usually gentle and soothing with a warm touch, perfect for use by any parent trying to help his or her child.

With this list of signs you may learn how to spot the signs of something more serious than a case of the childhood “I don’t want-tos.” Chronic pain is no fun, but it can be harder to deal with if no one knows it’s happening. Juvenile arthritis is a real issue with real symptoms. If spotted and treated early, it doesn’t have to mean an end to the active life your child deserves.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a massage for your child (or yourself!), please contact us by phone: 808.885.4459 or email: pacmsg@gmail.com

Massage Therapy for Headaches

Massage Therapy for Headaches

Image result for headacheJune is Migraine Awareness Month. Fifty million Americans have chronic headaches – the most common pain problem reported to physicians, ranging in severity from annoying to debilitating. Massage therapy can help significantly with the 3 most common types of chronic headaches.

At Pacific Massage Services we assess whether a patient’s headache might indicate a life-threatening condition, such as tumor, meningitis, aneurysm or head trauma. During intake of a headache patient, we ask the following questions:

• Is this the first headache you’ve ever had?
• Is this the worst headache you’ve had?
• Is this one very different from your usual headaches?
• Do you also have other symptoms, ie fever, body pain, earache, dizziness, confusion, stiff neck?
• Have you had a recent head trauma?

 A “yes” answer to any of these questions results in an immediate referral to the patient’s physician to rule out a serious problem. Massage is contraindicated for a headache due to infection, recent head trauma or central nervous system injury.

Another important question we ask is: Could you be dehydrated? With insufficient water, the salinity, and thus osmotic pressure, of the cerebrospinal fluid in the cranium rises. This painful head pressure can be relieved by drinking an adequate amount of water.

Image result for headacheOnce we have established that the headache does not seem to involve another condition, we determine the type of headache to help us select the most effective treatment. There are three main types of chronic headaches:

1. Tension Headache – Characterized by tension and pain in neck, shoulders, head, face, TMJ; feels like a tight cap squeezing the entire head.

2. Vascular Headache – Deep throbbing pain from excessively dilated blood vessels in the meninges, causing migraine and cluster headaches.

3. Inflammatory – Accompanies sinus infection, URI or UR allergy; constant, deep facial pain, often exacerbated by movement.

A structural imbalance is often the root cause of chronic headaches. While massaging tense muscles can bring temporary relief, correcting a structural imbalance can bring long-term relief from chronic headaches. Two factors influence a successful massage treatment:

1. Release of contracted muscles: Skilled massage therapists release the upper thoracic fascia, the contracted musculature of all cervical and upper thoracic muscles, and all  skeletal attachments. Muscle tension constricts blood flow to these muscles and to the head. This combination of muscle spasm and inadequate blood supply is the primary cause of pain in tension headaches.

2. Structural Alignment: Back, neck and shoulder tension often creates a structural imbalance, as can treatment to these muscles alone. So we balance upper back work by including lower back massage; and posterior work by also releasing anterior and lateral muscular structures, thus allowing any structural or postural misalignment to rebalance. The correction of postural deviation is often all that is needed to prevent future headaches. For vascular headaches, structural realignment has the additional benefit of improving the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and blood to the head, giving long-lasting benefits for the relief of vascular headaches.

In addition to hands-on treatment, at Pacific Massage Services, we also counsel patients on postural causes of headache, such as long hours of driving, or phone or computer work. We make suggestions for improvement, for example: placing the computer monitor at eye level and use of ergonomic seating. As well, we advise patients on lifestyle changes such as sufficient water intake and possible dietary causes. When appropriate, we recommend stretching, exercise, chiropractic care, physical therapy, nutritional counseling or medical attention.

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Image result for arthritisIn recognition of May as Arthritis Awareness Month, we explore how this painful condition can be helped with massage therapy. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe over 100 medical conditions and diseases, known as rheumatic diseases.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, massage can help with arthritis in two ways. First, it reduces muscle pain caused by spasms. Second, it increases production of endorphins which reduces pain.

For greatest benefit, massage therapy is most effective on a regular basis with a therapist trained and experienced in working with arthritis. The optimum treatment schedule is once a week for one month, then 1-2 times per month thereafter.

Two studies involving arthritis of the hands and knees each concluded that massage therapy is beneficial:

  1. A 2006 study at the Touch Research Institute in Miami demonstrates effects of hand massage in arthritis patients. Dr. Field shows by grip strength pre and post treatment that the treatment group had significant improvement in mobility and function compared to the non-massage control group. Also, to increase synovial fluid production in affected joints, treating the surrounding joint tissues and establishing a methodical treatment interval is suggested (Wine, 1995). As a systemic disease, RA can create blockage in lymph nodes proximal to affected joints, contributing to pain. Gentle friction techniques increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and assist in the removal of waste products surrounding the affected joints. Massage is contraindicated during an acute inflammatory stage, but when in remission, massage can effectively manage symptoms, prevent inflammation, and reduce joint damage.

Massage therapy is safe and effective to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) report in the first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of this treatment.

The 16-week study identifying the benefits of massage on osteoarthritis patients with pain, stiffness and limited RoM was published in the December 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine. Osteoarthritis, affecting 21 million Americans, causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the CDC.

The 68 study participants were randomly assigned either to an intervention group that received massage therapy immediately, or to a wait-list control group that received massage after an 8-week delay. Both groups continued previously prescribed medications and treatments.

Participants in the intervention group received a standard 1-hour massage twice a week for 4 weeks, followed by massage once a week for the next 4 weeks at the Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine at Saint Barnabus Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ. After the first 8 weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.

The primary study outcomes were changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain and functional scores, as well as changes in the Visual Analog Scale assessment of pain. Measures of pain, stiffness and functional ability were all significantly improved by the intervention as compared to the control group.

Those who continued with only their usual care without massage showed no changes in symptoms. During weeks 9 through 16, they received the massage intervention and experienced benefits similar to those in the original control group. When reassessed 8 weeks after completion of the massage intervention, the benefits of massage persisted at significant levels, with slight reduction in magnitude.

“Massage is free of any known side effects and according to our results, clearly shows therapeutic promise,” said senior investigator of the study David L. Katz, MD, associate adjunct professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology & Public Health at Yale School of Medicine and director of Yale Prevention Research Center. “Massage is important when conventional treatments are far from ideal. NSAIDs are often not well-tolerated. Cox-II inhibitors like Vioxx were developed as substitutes for traditional anti-inflammatory drugs, but pose toxicity problems.”

Katz conducted the study with Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Health-Related Professions. Perlman said “Our results suggest that massage therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for osteoarthritis,” said Perlman. “Ultimately, massage may be shown to lessen a patient’s reliance on medications and decrease health care costs.”

Perlman and Katz say that further study of the cost-effectiveness and the lasting impact of the intervention is warranted. They have begun collaborating on a follow-up study.”

Our hope is to show that this treatment is not only safe and effective, but cost-effective,” said Perlman. “That could serve to change practice standards so that massage is a more common option for the many patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.”

More info: http://www.arthritis.org

Massage Reduces PTSD Symptoms in Military Personnel

Massage Reduces PTSD Symptoms in Military Personnel

Image result for massage for veterans dayIn honor of Veterans Day, we offer special promotions and fees for active and veteran military personnel suffering with PTSD. According to a recent article in Science Daily, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms can be reduced with professionals use of healing touch and massage therapy.

PTSD symptoms include a variety of stressful emotional responses including re-living the original trauma through flashbacks and nightmares.  Those suffering from PSTD also are prone to insomnia, irritability, and intensified emotional reactions.  Others appear to be emotionally numb; some deal with the disorder by avoiding people or places which may remind them of the original traumatic situation.

Active duty Marines took part in a two-year trial.  Participants had at least one PTSD symptom based on pre-screening.  Over a three-week period the group that had received both the healing touch and guided imagery showed a marked improvement in PTSD symptoms as a result. The control group received the usual treatment for PTSD.  One investigator stated that the results – beyond being significant statistically – showed that those receiving the healing touch therapy actually had their symptoms reduced below that required to be diagnosed with PTSD.

At Pacific Massage Services, we are honored to help veterans and military personnel suffering with PTSD. Please call us to learn more about how massage can help with this life-altering diagnosis! 808.885.4459.

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

In recognition of May as Arthritis Awareness Month, we explore how this painful condition can be helped with massage therapy. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe over 100 medical conditions and diseases, known as rheumatic diseases.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, massage can help with arthritis in two ways. First, it reduces muscle pain caused by spasms. Second, it increases production of endorphins which reduces pain.

For greatest benefit, massage therapy is most effective on a regular basis with a therapist trained and experienced in working with arthritis. The optimum treatment schedule is once a week for one month, then 1-2 times per month thereafter.

Two studies involving arthritis of the hands and knees each concluded that massage therapy is beneficial:

1. A 2006 study at the Touch Research Institute in Miami demonstrates effects of hand massage in arthritis patients. Dr. Field shows by grip strength pre and post treatment that the treatment group had significant improvement in mobility and function compared to the non-massage control group. Also, to increase synovial fluid production in affected joints, treating the surrounding joint tissues and establishing a methodical treatment interval is suggested (Wine, 1995). As a systemic disease, RA can create blockage in lymph nodes proximal to affected joints, contributing to pain. Gentle friction techniques increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and assist in the removal of waste products surrounding the affected joints. Massage is contraindicated during an acute inflammatory stage, but when in remission, massage can effectively manage symptoms, prevent inflammation, and reduce joint damage.

2. Massage therapy is safe and effective to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) report in the first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of this treatment.

The 16-week study identifying the benefits of massage on osteoarthritis patients with pain, stiffness and limited RoM was published in the December 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine. Osteoarthritis, affecting 21 million Americans, causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the CDC.

The 68 study participants were randomly assigned either to an intervention group that received massage therapy immediately, or to a wait-list control group that received massage after an 8-week delay. Both groups continued previously prescribed medications and treatments.

Participants in the intervention group received a standard 1-hour massage twice a week for 4 weeks, followed by massage once a week for the next 4 weeks at the Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine at St. Barnabus Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ. After the first 8 weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.

The primary study outcomes were changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain and functional scores, as well as changes in the Visual Analog Scale assessment of pain. Measures of pain, stiffness and functional ability were all significantly improved by the intervention as compared to the control group.

Those who continued with only their usual care without massage showed no changes in symptoms. During weeks 9 through 16, they received the massage intervention and experienced benefits similar to those in the original control group. When reassessed 8 weeks after completion of the massage intervention, the benefits of massage persisted at significant levels, with slight reduction in magnitude.

“Massage is free of any known side effects and according to our results, clearly shows therapeutic promise,” said senior investigator of the study David L. Katz, MD, associate adjunct professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology & Public Health at Yale School of Medicine and director of Yale Prevention Research Center. “Massage is important when conventional treatments are far from ideal. NSAIDs are often not well-tolerated. Cox-II inhibitors like Vioxx were developed as substitutes for traditional anti-inflammatory drugs, but pose toxicity problems.”

Katz conducted the study with Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Health-Related Professions.. Perlman said “Our results suggest that massage therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for osteoarthritis,” said Perlman. “Ultimately, massage may be shown to lessen a patient’s reliance on medications and decrease health care costs.”

Perlman and Katz say that further study of the cost-effectiveness and the lasting impact of the intervention is warranted. They have begun collaborating on a follow-up study.”

Our hope is to show that this treatment is not only safe and effective, but cost-effective,” said Perlman. “That could serve to change practice standards so that massage is a more common option for the many patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.”

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Massage Therapy for Better Sleep: The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

In recognition of May as National Sleep Awareness Month, we explore the value of massage therapy to help treat and overcome chronic insomnia.

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep…” – William Shakespeare (The Tempest)

Shakespeare was probably not thinking of insomnia when he wrote that line. But to millions of insomniacs, sleep is as illusive as a dream.

There is a sleep crisis in our culture. Sleep does not come easily to alarmingly large numbers of people. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) “Sleep in America” Poll, 74% of adult respondents claim they experience at least one of these four symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week:

– Difficulty falling asleep

– Waking frequently during the night

– Waking and unable to return to sleep

– Waking up tired and unrefreshed

35% of respondents reported at least one of these four symptoms every night during the past year. 37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with their daytime activities and alertness.

Chronic insomnia is poor sleep every night or most nights for more than six months. This endless cycle can cause extreme fatigue, problems with concentration and can adversely affect a person’s mood and well-being. Recurring insomnia should be evaluated by a healthcare professional or a sleep disorder specialist.

There seems to be a significant relationship between the serotonin component of sleep and its relationship to massage therapy. The crucial neurotransmitter serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin resets the part of the brain that directs circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain conducted by the Touch Research Institute at University of Miami School of Medicine demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage relaxes the muscles, improves circulation, soothes the nervous system and increases production of pain-killing endorphins. It can also reduce the tension from daily stresses that lead to a night of tossing and turning, as well as daytime anxiety, drowsiness and poor performance. Therapeutic massage can help with sleep disorders that have a neuromuscular origin such as pain, tension, muscle spasms and Restless Legs Syndrome.

Insomnia is common problem for hospitalized patients. Massage has been useful as an adjunct or alternative option to prescription sleep medications. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas with hospitalized critically ill elderly men concluded that back massage is useful for promoting sleep in this population.

Restless babies and children may also benefit from a massage by sleeping more peacefully. In one study of children and adolescents, those who participated in a 30-minute massage daily for five days slept longer and more soundly.

In addition to helping an infant sleep, the “calming touch” of a parent establishes a valuable opportunity to soothe and nurture the baby. As little as 15 minutes of massage a day significantly affects infant sleep patterns with deeper sleep of longer duration.

Massage therapy is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia.

 

Massage for Cardiovascular Conditions

Massage for Cardiovascular Conditions

To acknowledge February as American Heart Month – created to educate the public about cardiovascular disease – we offer the following information on massage for specific cardiovascular conditions.

According to the Heart Foundation.org about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death among women.

Many people with heart disease can benefit greatly from receiving massage. The main benefit is stress reduction, which in turn can help mitigate complications of heart disease. But there are certain types of massage that can possibly cause serious damage. You need to be sure you’re in a knowledgeable practitioner’s hands to make sure you are safe.

Because there are so many different types of cardiovascular conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your complete health history must be considered before making a decision. If you have a medical condition, you should always talk to your doctor before deciding to embark on a personal massage program.

The following cardiovascular conditions may be helped or prevented with the appropriate massage treatment from a qualified professional:

Blood thinner medications cause the body to be more sensitive and in some cases, even fragile. Deep tissue massage on a patient taking blood thinners can cause inflammation, bruising, and tissue or organ damage, including bruised kidneys. Gentle massage is generally the best choice in this case.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a life-threatening disease that is closely linked to stress, diet and exercise. Massage may be just the thing to help you manage stress and subsequently your high blood pressure. The opposite condition, low blood pressure, is also a concern, and because massage can lower blood pressure, you may feel a bit lightheaded just after receiving a massage, until the blood pressure returns to normal. Sitting up gradually before standing after a massage will help normalize blood pressure.

A blood clot is a mass of coagulated blood entrapped within a blood vessel and impedes the flow of blood to and from the heart and other body areas. Individuals with a history of blood clots should avoid deep massage, which could possibly dislodge a clot and release it into the blood stream. In a worst-case scenario, this can induce a stroke or heart attack.

A pacemaker is a medical device that uses electrical impulses to regulate the heartbeat. If an individual has a pacemaker, stent, or any kind of apparatus implanted into a vein or artery, the therapist must avoid pressing over that area so as not to dislodge or damage the device or surrounding tissues. But the massage can usually be safely done on the rest of the body.

Massage can usually be beneficial for someone who has arrhythmia or a disruption in the heart rate, if that is the only health concern. This is especially true if the arrhythmia is induced by stress.

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow to meet the needs of the body. Patients with this condition should avoid vigorous massage or massages that are longer than 15-20 minutes. This is because massage will shift the flow of blood to the organs, which may create a greater burden for the heart. Start with brief 5-10 minute massage sessions, and gradually lengthen to tolerance.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) or is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtamassage.org).

With a little bit of homework, you can find a therapist who is experienced and knows how to keep you safe. If they ask about your medications and medical history, this is one indication that you are on the right track. Interview them on the phone before making an appointment and check their credentials. You can even ask your doctor to consult with your therapist.

Each therapist has varying levels of training, awareness and experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist’s qualifications, and what they’re going to do during the massage. While you’re receiving massage, continue to ask questions as they come up. If at any time during your treatment, the massage hurts or feels uncomfortable, you should speak up. Everyone has different levels of comfort and tolerance and a good therapist wants your session to be right for you.

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being.

At Pacific Massage Services, our staff therapists are trained and experienced in massage for many different medical conditions. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping your cardiovascular system feel better and function better!

Got Arthritis? Get Massage Therapy!

Got Arthritis? Get Massage Therapy!

We acknowledge October as Joint Health Awareness Month with this article about massage therapy for arthritis. The health benefits of massage are varied, but can it ease the joint pain of arthritis? Find out what’s proven to work best, and what should you know about massage therapy for arthritis.

Like many people with arthritis, Connie DeIanni has days when her pain is hard to manage. One tactic she uses to fight her pain, as well as the stress that comes along with it, is a soothing massage.

“I’ve used massage as a therapy, but more for the sore muscles that are compromised due to flares,” says DeIanni, a Farmington, Utah, bank employee and college student who has rheumatoid arthritis. “There’s a calming effect on the tension and stress of the constant pain that is rewarding.”

Massage, whether conducted in a softly lit day spa or a treatment room at a physical therapy clinic, is something many people use to soothe sore joints and muscles, to ease anxiety or to help them sleep better. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, reports that massage is one of the most popular complementary therapies used by Americans, with close to nine percent of adults using it. Until recently, little was known about why massage seemed to work, but recent research suggests that massage can affect the body’s production of certain hormones linked to blood pressure, anxiety, heart rate and other key vital signs. But is massage safe and effective for people with arthritis?

Massage and Arthritis

Regular massage of muscles and joints, whether by a licensed therapist at a spa or by self-massage at home, can lead to a significant reduction in pain for people with arthritis, according to Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, who’s conducted a number of studies on the benefits of massage, including on people with arthritis. In Field’s research and other recent studies on the effects of massage for arthritis symptoms, regular use of the simple therapy led to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints.

While most research on massage examines its effects on the general population, not specifically people with arthritis, recently more studies are underway to study the effectiveness of massage for people with arthritis. For example, one 2006 study conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey examined 68 adults with knee osteoarthritis receiving two Swedish massages per week for eight weeks, compared to a group who received no massage. The massage group reported significant improvements in knee pain, stiffness, function, range of motion and walking, the researchers found.

Massage also benefits people with painful hand or wrist arthritis, Field concluded in another 2006 study that she conducted with colleagues in Miami. Twenty-two adults, mostly women, diagnosed with hand or wrist arthritis were given four weekly massages from a therapist and taught to massage their sore joints daily at home. Just a 15-minute, moderate pressure massage per day led to reduced pain and anxiety, and increased grip strength for the participants as measured on comparative pre- and post-therapy tests.

Most people who try complementary therapies, including massage, do so to address back and neck pain, according to a 2007 NCCAM report. A number of studies confirm the effectiveness of massage for back and neck pain, including one published in 2011 in the Annals of Internal Medicine that looked at the effectiveness of massage therapy on 401 people with chronic low back pain. The researchers found that massage did reduce their pain, and the benefits lasted at least six months. They also concluded that the type of massage wasn’t that important – different types worked about the same.

Article Credit: Susan Bernstein: arthritistoday.org