Physical therapists can help reduce and manage pain, including low back pain, which affects up to 80 percent of Americans during their lifetime. In fact, physical therapy mobilizes the spine along with specific exercises that can help alleviate the pain and can have long-lasting effects.
If you are at risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association encourages seeing a physical therapist for the initial treatment of pain resulting from tendonitis/bursitis, degenerative joint problems (osteoarthritis), and inflammatory joint problems (rheumatoid arthritis), rather than prescription pain medication.
Physical therapy is a great alternative to medication and surgery for musculoskeletal pain. Research shows individuals who receive active physical therapy experience greater improvement in function and decreased pain intensity.
No matter what part of your body hurts, a physical therapist can help you alleviate or manage pain without costly medication or other invasive methods, in many cases. As stated before, physical therapy can be helpful in the management of Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). For example, a physical therapist may recommend:
- Isometric (“pushing”) exercises to help build muscle strength without subjecting inflamed joints to excessive wear
- Isotonic (“pulling”) exercises to further increase muscle strength and help preserve function
- Daily walking, using a cane or other assistive device as needed
Massage is one of the oldest healing modalities, dating back some 3,000 years to ancient China. Archaeological evidence of massage has also been discovered from ancient India, Japan, Egypt, Rome, and Greece. And Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, authored papers recommending the use of friction and rubbing for joint and circulatory problems.
Today, the benefits of massage therapy are significant and varied. Already a significant part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has proven beneficial for many conditions including low back pain, arthritis, generalized fatigue, depression, and more. And, as millions who have experienced this modality will attest, massage helps to relieve the tension and stress of everyday living that can often contribute to illness.
Massage Therapy Definition
Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deep layers of muscle and connective tissue of the body using various techniques to aid in the healing process, improve function, decrease muscle reflex activity (spasm), improve circulation, and promote relaxation and well-being. There is a wide variety of techniques, such as:
Benefits of Medical Massage
Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure and heart rate. Pain relief from musculoskeletal injuries is a major benefit of massage. When combined with patient education and exercises, massage can be helpful for sub-acute and chronic low back pain.
After multiple treatments, massage has also been shown to reduce sub-clinical depression as well as trait anxiety, both of which are very common in patients who suffer from chronic pain conditions. Other benefits of massage include improved circulation, increased flexibility, and improved posture. In fact, massages can even promote better sleep, improve concentration, and promote an overall sense of well-being.
Theories behind the physiologic mechanisms of massage include blocking nociception (“gate control theory” of pain), activating the parasympathetic nervous system with subsequent release of endorphins and serotonin, and preventing fibrosis or scar tissue formation.
Physical Therapy/ Massage Session FAQs
Where Will My Massage Session Take Place?
Your massage session will take place in a warm, comfortable, quiet room in our office space. Soft therapeutic music is often played to help you further relax. For the session, you will lie on a massage table designed especially for your comfort.
Who Will Perform the Massage?
Your session will be performed by our experienced massage therapist who is properly trained and certified.
What Should I Wear to my Physical Therapy Session?
It is entirely up to you what you want to wear, but loose-fitting, comfortable clothing is best. Most massage sessions are performed with the patient at least partially unclothed; you will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable.
What Body Parts Will Be Addressed in Physical Therapy?
You and the therapist will discuss the desired goals of your session; this, along with your doctor’s recommendations, will determine which parts of your body require massage. A typical comprehensive massage will include work on your back, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, and feet.
What Will the Actual Massage Feel Like?
It depends on the techniques used. Various techniques utilize different strokes, rocking movements, postural movements, and varied applications of pressure to specific areas. Ask the practitioner about the methods he or she uses. Traditionally many sessions may start with broader, gentler strokes that will help calm the nervous system and ease muscle tension, then progress to gradually increased and focused pressure to certain regions. A light lotion or oil is often used to allow your muscles to be massaged without causing excessive and painful friction to the skin. You should communicate immediately if you feel any discomfort whatsoever so that another approach may be taken. Massage is most therapeutic when your body is compliant and non-resistant.
How Long Will the Session Last?
The average massage session lasts approximately one hour. Some people prefer a 60 to 90-minute session for optimal therapeutic effect. It is just as important to allow relaxation time prior to and after the session as it is to relax during the session itself. Appropriate use of hot tubs, saunas, and steam baths may assist in the relaxation process before and after your session.
What Should I Do During Physical Therapy Session?
In the room before your session, feel free to discuss any questions or concerns with the therapist. During the massage itself, make yourself as comfortable as possible on the massage table. The practitioner will assist you with this, either gently moving you at times or guiding you as to what to do throughout the session (for example, raising your arm or turning over). Most people just close their eyes, breathe and completely relax, communicating with the therapist if they need more or less pressure, or anything else relevant to the session.
How Will I Feel After My Session?
Most people feel profoundly relaxed after a massage. Some experience immediate alleviation of their long-term aches and pains as well as increased flexibility and movement. After an initial period of feeling mildly slower, patients will often experience increased energy and heightened awareness.
How Do I Make an Appointment?
Please call us at (888) 409-8006, for more information. Or you can schedule an appointment online. If you think massage therapy might be right for you, ask your physician. Our physical therapists are ready at any of our offices in Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Coral Springs, Plantation and Fort Lauderdale.