Category Archives: Headaches

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 for Mental Wellness

Massage for Mental Wellness

January is Mental Wellness Month. Did you know that massage therapy can have a significant impact on your mental health? We all worry about things in our life from time to time. But if constant worry becomes a chronic condition that interferes with your health, happiness and life, it’s time to do something about it. Help is on the way – with massage therapy!

Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 10 million Americans suffer from GAD. Symptoms range from mild worry about everyday concerns to crippling panic about imagined catastrophic events. Other symptoms of anxiety may include: shortness of breath, insomnia, chronic fatigue, muscular tension, irritability and inability to cope. GAD can lead to physical illness, as stress and insomnia lower immune resistance, making one susceptible to illness.

SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many people during the colder, darker winter months. The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.” Massage affects brain chemistry in such a way that depression symptoms diminish and are replaced with improved mood and a feeling of well-being.

Depression. Another psychological condition that can negatively impact physical health, depression may exhibit these symptoms: headaches; insomnia; muscle tension focused in one region, such as the jaw or neck; lymphatic congestion due to lack of activity; digestive problems; tender points; hyperventilation; and cold, clammy skin, particularly on the extremities.

How can massage help with anxiety and depression? There is significant evidence that massage therapy is effective in the management of GAD and depression. Massage is one of the best antidotes for stress, because it:

– Stimulates the production of endorphins (“feel good” hormones), while simultaneously reducing cortisol levels (stress hormone).

– Calms the nervous system, induces relaxation and promotes a feeling of well-being.

– Relieves pain

– Increases awareness of muscle tension.

– Regulates the breath and heartbeat to the rate that occurs in sleep.

– Induces mental alertness and improves concentration.

– Promotes restful sleep.

While massage therapy may not be a cure for anxiety and depression, it can offer relief from symptoms, and can be a crucial component in an effective treatment that integrates medication, bodywork, counseling, exercise and nutrition.

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.