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Why we emphasize Massage Therapy and “Hands on Care”

I am writing to explain this question, not to toot our own horn, but to offer the differences that we offer and why we want you to expect outstanding results and response to our care.

“Massage therapy manipulates the soft tissues of the body to normalize the tissue. The massage therapist uses a systematic application of pressure and movement on the soft tissues of the body. Massage therapy is used: to reduce stress pain, to aid recovery from medical or surgical procedures , to provide relaxation, to soothe tired and sore muscles, to increase circulation of blood and flow of lymph in the body.” This is a nice summary quote from Massage Today, a popular massage publication.

As many of you have experienced with our care at Comprehensive Pain Clinic of Portland, we take great pride in offering the most effective techniques and applications.
We emphasize abdominal massage. I have found that over the years of different types of pain conditions that many pain issues which have no origin of trauma or explanation often are explained by an issue within the abdomen that is referring pain to the respective region of pain. My simplest example is the person who awakes in the morning with an intensely sore neck. It is normally accepted that “I slept wrong” and just accept the circumstance. These conditions are very intense and acutely painful.

Through the use of infrared imaging, it is found that the majority of these cases have a common origin, and it is the diaphragm or upper abdomen. This is explained very simply neurologically as the phrenic nerve that feeds the diaphragm is linked to the neck at the spinal levels C3-5. Since the diaphragm is in spasm it feeds the nerve implulse into the neck and the nerves that leave the neck transmit that abnormal nerve function into the upper back and posterior neck muscles.

How many of you have really, “slept wrong” The real issue is how many of you have gone to sleep with stress from a number of causes and woke the next morning with a stiff neck, which is really from the diaphragm. This whole concept is nothing more than a form of organ referred pain. This is a common problem, and most of us have experienced the stiff neck syndrome. What we don’t always acknowledge, is where this problem has emanated.

Most people know that when a person complains of chest pain and left arm pain that indicates a problem with the heart. This is a form of organ referred pain. Each of us has organs that will refer pain when they are in distress. Another common phenomenon when there is distress in the stomach and our mid-back will ache. We think it is a mere back ache, but the real issue is the stomach “referring” pain to the mid-back because they share the same nerve supply.

Holistic approach: What we do is to look at all aspects of the health condition and determine the organ, joint, ligament or tendon that is troubled and correct the origin of the pain and not merely the pain symptom. We can never really separate mind and body and spirit. This is truly what creates much of our discomfort and explains many sources of pain.

What makes our results so effective and beyond the normal treatment?

Our massage therapists have all had advanced training that offer the most effective approach to all qualities of pain and problems. What your condition demands is what we provide to offer the best effective results. Deep tissue massage may be applied to one area while abdominal and Swedish massage are applied to another area.

Massage is often recommended as part of a treatment plan for sports injuries, repetitive stress, chronic pain and anxiety. There are many different specialized massage techniques commonly used. These include:  Swedish massage, Rolfing,  deep tissue massage, sports massage, shiatsu and combinations of these techniques are also used.

Massage therapists move the skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and the membrane, called fascia, that surrounds the muscles. This is done to promote the flow of blood and lymph. It also serves to relieve tension, stimulate nerves, and keep the muscles elastic and easy to move.

What is Active Release Techniques (ART)?

ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.

How do overuse conditions occur?

Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:

  • acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc)
  • accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
  • not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia)

Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

What is an ART treatment like?

Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.

Moving lymph fluid is important because lymph carries waste from the tissues. The lymph does not circulate. Instead it relies in part on muscle contraction to keep it moving. That is why massaging the muscles aids the flow of lymph through the body. Massage also moves the blood and increases its oxygen capacity.

Massage can both soothe and stimulate the nervous system. Different techniques are chosen to achieve different effects. Massage can also speed recovery from the fatigue that often follows exercise. This is why many athletes use massage as part of their training plan.

Massage can be combined with aromatherapy by using scented oils. Oils are commonly used to make the therapists hands move more easily across the skin. The scents from the oils are believed by some to have their own therapeutic effects.

Massage may also be combined with meditation or other relaxation therapy. Massage therapists play relaxing music. The massage therapist will work with the person to provide the type of experience that will be the most beneficial. Individuals can discuss their preferences regarding music, types of oils and combination therapies with the massage therapist.

The massage is usually done on a padded massage table. The person's body is covered with a sheet or a blanket. Only the part that is actively being worked on is exposed at any given time. The person needs to take off only those clothes he or she feels comfortable removing. A massage will generally last for one hour.

There are also many other types of bodywork that include massage as part of the discipline. Deep tissue massage uses slow strokes and deep pressure on painful parts of the body. Sports massage is used to assist training, prevent injury, and to treat sprains, strains and sore tendons. Manual lymph drainage stimulates the lymph system. This can relieve some of the swelling that follows some surgical or radiation treatments. A healthcare provider can determine if massage therapy might be helpful after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Massage therapy may have to be avoided if a person: is pregnant, has swelling in one area of the body, has eaten in the previous two hours, particularly for abdominal massage, has just completed chemotherapy or radiation treatment, has an infectious skin disease or unhealed wound. This might include a broken bone, a bad sprain, or body bruises, has phlebitis or varicose veins,  has a previous history of physical abuse or sexual abuse or finds hands-on therapies uncomfortable

Although some massage strokes may be somewhat uncomfortable, a person having a massage should generally feel good. If pain or discomfort persists, the massage can be stopped.

About half of the states in the U.S. require that massage therapists have a license to practice. The American Massage Therapy Association also certifies massage therapists. Therapists can be a members of this organization if they have proof of graduation from an approved training program, hold a state license, have passed a membership examination or passed the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.