Pain Management and the Human Touch

It doesn’t take a Harvard study to confirm what people have known for thousands of years: massage is an effective tool for pain management and relief. If it didn’t work, people would not still be practicing it, generation after generation, down through the ages.

It can help patients who have suffered trauma, like an injury, accident or collision. And it can also help patients suffering from diseases like cancer. Of course it also helps to relieve stress associated with work and too much sitting down on the job (which is very harmful, by the way). It also helps with patients dealing with pain post surgery.

Doctors have found massage to be superior to cold pack treatment of post-traumatic headaches and can reduce the severity of headaches caused by tension.

One theory of why massage therapy works has to do with the restoration of the patient’s communication with, and subsequent awareness of, all areas of the body. Injury and illness tends to focus attention onto one area of the body — the part that hurts! This is unbalanced and in any unbalanced arrangement, problems can grow and be magnified.

By manipulating and massaging each part of the physical body, a more natural and uniform balance of awareness is restored. This often brings relief from pain and discomfort. Massage therapists focus on the entire body system including skin, muscles, connective tissues and bones. There in is the key to massage effectiveness.

In addition to helping alleviate pain through the manipulation of soft tissue and joint pain, the factor of human touch also plays an enormous role. It’s no accident that when something produces a sense of insight, affection, gratitude or sympathy we say that we are “touched.” In a world that has become too impersonal, to touch someone can mean spiritual experience bordering on the profound. Those interested in our humanity and the importance of making a positive impact on the world, urge us to “reach out and touch someone.”

So there is something powerful and marvelous in itself about the human touch. It may not be a cure all, but doesn’t it always make us feel better?

What is the power of massage if not the power of the human touch, and the power of compassion?

Massage has been shown to be effective with cancer and diabetes patients and mastectomy patients dealing with the outcomes of surgery. Massage helps people who are upset about their bodies regain a sense of comfort and familiarity in their own skin. Massage brings consolation after grief, depression or anxiety.

This sense of consolation heightens inner confidence and self esteem, which in turn enables a patient to better tolerate pain. And unlike other forms of healing, you can’t overdose on massage. It’s not addictive, but  once you get into a weekly groove, you may never want to quit.

You just can’t go wrong with massage.