Category Archives: Chronic Pain

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.

Tired and Achy 24/7?

Tired and Achy 24/7?

Image result for chronic fatigue syndrome awareness month

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 strongly indicated as 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.

October is Massage Therapy Month!

October is Massage Therapy Month!

Image result for massage therapy monthMassage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching.

As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, headaches, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

INJURY. Were you injured at home, at work or in your car? Whether your pain is from a recent injury or you’ve had that nagging ache for a while, massage therapy can give you relief and comfort!

HEADACHES. Do you miss out on work and play because of frequent or severe headaches? Our targeted approach treats migraine and tension headaches with great results!

INSOMNIA. Does insomnia keep you from feeling and functioning your best? Regular massage can put an end to those sleepless nights so you are more energetic and more effective!

SURGERY. If you have soreness, stiffness or poor scar healing after surgery, our post-op massage series can accelerate healing, relieve pain and minimize scarring!

STRESS. Anxiety, depression or stress got you down? Massage therapy is proven to balance endorphin and cortisol production to boost your mood and brighten your outlook on life!

JOINT PAIN. Do have pain in your muscles or joints? Our special techniques can alleviate pain from fatigue, repetitive use, over-exertion, arthritis and more!

CHRONIC CONDITION. Does a chronic fatigue condition such as fibromyalgia limit your activities and reduce your fullest enjoyment of life? We can help with soothing, energizing massage and adjunct services.

PREGNANCY. The childbearing year is filled with joy, anticipation, aches and pains! Relieve the discomforts of pregnancy while lying face our special down on our special pregnancy massage table!

Massage is beneficial for many discomforts from a variety of conditions. CALL US TODAY to learn whether massage therapy is right for you! For the entire month of October, we offer SPECIAL PRICING for our Fall program – Tune-In and Tune-Up with Massage! 808.885.4459.

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

Always Achy and Exhausted?

Always Achy and Exhausted?

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 severe 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.

In addition to the classic signs and symptoms listed above, 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 strongly indicated as 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.

Relief is in sight! Give us a call to learn more about how Massage Therapy can help relieve the uncomfortable and painful symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Pacific Massage Services: 808.885.4459.

October is Massage Therapy Month!

October is Massage Therapy Month!

Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching.

Image result for MASSAGE

As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, headaches, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

INJURY. Were you injured at home, at work or in your car? Whether your pain is from a recent injury or you’ve had that nagging ache for a while, massage therapy can give you relief and comfort!

HEADACHES. Do you miss out on work and play because of frequent or severe headaches? Our targeted approach treats migraine and tension headaches with great results!

INSOMNIA. Does insomnia keep you from feeling and functioning your best? Regular massage can put an end to those sleepless nights so you are more energetic and more effective!

SURGERY. If you have soreness, stiffness or poor scar healing after surgery, our post-op massage series can accelerate healing, relieve pain and minimize scarring!

STRESS. Anxiety, depression or stress got you down? Massage therapy is proven to balance endorphin and cortisol production to boost your mood and brighten your outlook on life!

JOINT PAIN. Do have pain in your muscles or joints? Our special techniques can alleviate pain from fatigue, repetitive use, over-exertion, arthritis and more!

CHRONIC CONDITION. Does a chronic fatigue condition such as fibromyalgia limit your activities and reduce your fullest enjoyment of life? We can help with soothing, energizing massage and adjunct services.

PREGNANCY. The childbearing year is filled with joy, anticipation, aches and pains! Relieve the discomforts of pregnancy while lying face our special down on our special pregnancy massage table!

Massage is beneficial for many discomforts from a variety of conditions. CALL US TODAY to learn whether massage therapy is right for you! For the entire month of October, we offer SPECIAL PRICING for our Fall program – Tune-Up and Tune-In with Massage! 808.443.1289.

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.

 

Exhausted and Achy All the Time?

Exhausted and Achy All the Time?

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a recently recognized 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 severe 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, depression and insomnia, in addition to non-restorative sleep.

Estimates suggest that CFS probably affects about 800,000 Americans. Statistics on CFS incidence are difficult to gather for 4 primary reasons: 1) It is under-reported, as many sufferers do not seek treatment; 2) It mimics other disorders which may occur simultaneously, making a definitive diagnosis challenging; 3) CFS is often misdiagnosed, especially by physicians who do not recognize it as a legitimate diagnosis; and 4) Disparity exists in patient demographics from different geographic areas within the U.S. Women aged 25-50 comprise the largest group of CFS patients.

While most cases appear to be non-contagious, incidents of entire communities showing CFS symptoms may indicate exceptions to this assumption. Rather than focus on any one causative factor, researchers have concluded that CFS usually results from a combination of triggers that can vary from one patient to another. A dysfunctional connection between the central nervous system and the endocrine system seems to be at the center of most CFS cases, with CFS patients typically having low cortisol levels, indicating adrenal exhaustion.

In addition to the classic signs and symptoms listed above, other symptoms are prolific and may include: digestive disturbances, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, morning muscle stiffness, and others. There is much crossover between CFS, fibromyalgia 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. Medical intervention is sometimes helpful, but it is challenging to find the right combination of drugs, as symptoms vary patient to patient and are changeable in individual patients. Many CFS patients are hypersensitive to medications, and often find that ¼ normal dosage is adequate. For many patients, an effective combination is low-dose tricyclic anti-depressants and immune-suppressants, especially glucocortocoids used to treat inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

Massage therapy is strongly indicated as helpful for CFS patients. Massage stimulates parasympathetic response; cleanses blood and tissues; increases endorphin and decreases cortisol production; relieves depression and stimulates circulation when exercise may exacerbate pain. Studies show that CFS patients report lower levels of anxiety and better quality of sleep after receiving massage. Therapists and CFS patients report pain relief, muscle relaxation, and improved sleep. The emotional support of the therapist, combined with skilled touch, has the potential to make CFS less isolating for patients suffering from this debilitating syndrome.

Want more info on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/index.html