Entries in massage therapy (1)


Old, New, And Alternative Treatments For Pain Management

Massage Therapy, Michael Oh, FlickrIce, Ice Baby! 

Lying in a hospital bed, with close to twenty pounds on ice packed around my shattered leg, I wondered when humans first thought about using cold for pain therapy.

It has to have been used for thousands of years, in areas where it could be collected. At least the nurses covering me in ice didn't have to travel to a nearby glacier, chip away their supply, and haul it back to the sixth floor of Harborview Medical Center. 

Reducing swelling, pain and inflammation resulting from injury using cold therapy is a balancing act. Many people cannot tolerate ice on or near an injury for more than ten minutes at a time, while others can fall asleep and need to be monitored to avoid frostbite. It is up to the individual to determine how long they can deal with the cold and try to work within a range of ten to thirty minutes per session. Avoid heat on injuries for the first twenty-four hours or as recommended by your physician. While it may feel nice at first, heat can create more problems down the road.

Alternating Hot And Cold

Using a cold pack first then a hot pack later ( +24 hours post-injury or at doctor's advice) can often help relieve muscle and joint pain for me in about half an hour. A quick note about heat pads - microwave and electric heating pads are great if used according to instructions. Seriously, read the instructions. Severe burns and a worsening of your condition can quickly follow improper use of heat. If you do not have someone monitoring you while using heat, use timers capable of waking you up, should you fall asleep. You can get a serious burn while asleep that won't wake you up until too late, if at all. 

My wife fell asleep using an ultrasound device and suffered a serious burn to her shoulder that took weeks to heal, so be careful with other common machines used for pain control.

Seek medical attention if any unusual symptoms develop after a cold and heat session. Be sure to let doctors know exactly what you had been doing and for how long. Inform them of any and all medications, too. Don't forget about any herbal supplements or remedies in the disclosure as some have the ability to block or alter drugs and their effects.

Fish Oil

I had been taking a high quality fish oil capsule two or three times a day for about a year before I crashed my bike, and continue to take it daily.  The main reason was for heart health and inflammation reduction. One of the unintended benefits seems to be rapid healing and fading of the scars at the repair sites. 

The scars from the August 2010 surgeries are much less noticeable than my August 1979 football knee repairs. A woman who had a recent double knee replacement I would see at physical therapy asked me if I put some kind of anti-scar cream or something on my leg because she was noticing my scars fading much faster than hers. We had surgery about the same times and are roughly the same age.

While I will not name a brand of fish oil, I would recommend that any brand you try be of a high quality fish stock, like salmon or other omega-3 rich source fish, and a brand that is purified to remove unwanted elements. I works well for me, but my wife can't take any of the fish oil products without getting heartburn or the "fish burps".

Massage And Magnets

Healing massage can work wonders to get your blood and your joints moving again.

In my family, we have also used a couple of non-powered massage roller devices that have some fairly powerful magnets in them. I can't say that the magnets actually do anything, but the massaging action they give feels pretty terrific.

It is not unusual for the spouse receiving the roller massage to start snoring a few minutes into the session, so something relaxing is happening there.

The types of injuries I sustained were severe enough that blood clot formation was likely without blood thinner medication, so I could not use various massage devices until cleared to do so and neither should you, to help avoid possible complications. Check with your health care provider before using any device, powered or not, before using it anywhere near a seriously injured site.

Read Up On It But Don't Believe Everything You Read!

Check out your friends and relatives to see what they have tried out for pain relief then check that information against WebMD and other sites put up by the Mayo Clinic and the like.

Before subjecting yourself to additional risk of injury from an unproven therapy, Check It Out!  Got it?

Thanks again for checking us out!


Shoreline, WA