Most people think about massage and think back rubs, neck rubs, and relaxation. But did you know that there are many other conditions that massage therapy can be used for? Clinical massage therapy (site-specific treatment with a goal in mind) can be an effective treatment for many medical conditions. Here is just a small sample:
- IT band syndrome: This is an overuse injury of the soft tissue that runs from the hip to the knee and can cause knee pain/hip pain. This is common in runners and other endurance athletes, but can happen to anyone.
- Plantar fascitis: This painful condition of the feet often responds well to massage therapy and physical therapy. A little stretching and soft-tissue massage goes a long way (especially when you start treatment right away).
- Piriformis syndrome: The piriformis is a muscle in the buttock region and, when tight, causes pain in the buttocks and/or down the leg.
- Shoulder pain: Massage therapy can be helpful to those of you with shoulder pain. Postural problems and daily activities (like sitting at a computer) can strain and irritate these muscles and massage therapy can often help.
- Headaches: Massage therapy can help decrease the frequency and intensity of headaches. Research has shown massage to be effective treating tension AND migraine headaches.
- Fibromyalgia: There are few things that haven been shown effective at managing symptoms of fibromyalgia, and massage therapy is one of them. Massage is the safest treatment available for many chronic pain conditions.
- TMJ dysfunction: For those unfamiliar, TMJ dysfunction is pain and/or clicking and locking of the jaw. An experienced massage therapist can help manage the symptoms and pain of TMJ dysfunction.
There are many others conditions massage therapy can help, including carpal tunnel, arthritis, and bursitis. The take-home message here is that if there is something that has been nagging you, check with a professional massage therapist and see if they can help you. An experienced massage therapist will also tell you when they CANNOT help, and can refer you to another appropriate medical professional (perhaps a physical therapist or physician).
Considering that massage therapy is a safe treatment without side effects for almost everyone, it is a very good place to start.