How Does Massage Interrupt the Pain Cycle?

Massage can be defined as a systematic and scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of obtaining or maintaining health.  The history of massage and healing touch is long and complex.  Massage is an elective procedure and has many benefits, including pain relief.

Some of the benefits of massage are:

  • Reduction in anxiety
  • Relief of muscle tension
  • Increases range of motion
  • Improves motor skills
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improves connective tissue healing
  • Increased mental alertness
  • Decreases pain
  • Reduction of stress

The pain cycle is initiated when painful stimuli result in reflex muscle contraction and localized muscle splitting or guarding.  The localized muscle guarding restricts movement and decreases local circulation, which restricts the amount of oxygen available to the tissues and the removal of metabolic wastes.  The subsequent swelling creates more pain.  From this point, muscle splitting is intensified and the cycle repeats itself.  A more generalized secondary pain results that outlasts or exceeds the original discomfort.  Massage interrupts the pain cycle on all levels by reducing muscle tension, increasing circulation, reducing inflammation and increasing movement.

pain cycle diagram

The Pain Cycle

Talk to your doctor of chiropractic to see how massage / manual therapy can enhance your chiropractic treatment plan.



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