massage-msMany of you may aware that massage has been shown to work with some people and for some pain syndromes. The biggest drawback is that therapeutic massage may not be covered or fully covered by insurance. For the best effect on pain, massage needs to be done on a regular and frequent basis; this can be difficult when someone has to pay out of pocket. When massage is used to help manage pain it has an additional benefit of stress reduction and sleep improvement which are common companions.

The benefit of stress reduction for people with pain (and their spouse or caregiver as well) is often welcomed. Massage can be effective in reducing stress even if performed occasionally (once a month or every other month, for example) which may be a better fit for your pocketbook. Insurance that only pay for some amounts (like $400 a year) may pay for stress relief when doctor prescribed.

Where do you find a qualified massage therapist?

It is helpful if you can get a referral to a therapist from your healthcare provider, however you may find that you will need to perform an internet search to find one.  There are private practitioners, group practices, and more and more beauty salons/spas have a massage therapist available. You will want to know that the therapist is licensed, reputable, and the cost fits your budget. If there is massage therapy school in your area, sometimes you can get a massage for free or sharply discounted from students in training or instructors.

There are several different types of massage such as Swedish, hot stones, therapeutic touch with massage, deep tissue, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, etc. or a combination of techniques. At your first appointment, you should talk with your therapist in order to share what you want out of the massage as well as what techniques may be recommended to meet those needs.

What should I expect from massage therapy?

Yes, you will be asked to disrobe even though some of us tend to be overmodest and want to keep everything on. You really will get the best results when you take it all off (keeping on your undies is optional).  Your therapist will respect your modesty, allow you to undress in private and cover with a sheet before they re-enter the room. They should keep you covered except for the area being worked on.  Be sure as well to let them know beforehand if you have any allergies (such as certain fragrances) as aromatherapy and scented, oils are commonly used. The key I have found to getting as much out of my massage focus on what the therapist is doing and feel the experience (try not let your mind drift to unpleasant thoughts or your “to do” list).

Fighting the Stigma

One thing that really bugs me that I have experienced over the years, are the nasty remarks some people feel obliged to share when they learn you are going for or just returning from a massage.  Don’t be surprised if you get a snarky “it must be nice”, “lucky you” or something similar. I have had it happen often enough I find it annoying.  People would never consider remarking the same way on a hair appointment, manicure, or even a physical therapy appointment.  I don’t know if it is a perceived class issue or what exactly.  I have come to explain it is part of my pain program and/or suggest they give it a try as a stress reliever. The cost can certainly be less than hair appointment and in my opinion, it is a worthwhile investment.

As people with pain and their loved ones know stress is always a part of life and often a heavy burden to carry. So, do yourself a huge favor and give massage a try—at least once—to lighten that load. You won’t be sorry.  Let me know about your experience, too.

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