Massage for muscle pain or Skelaxin?

>> Sunday, February 28, 2010

We have to start with a slight problem of definition. The practice of massage varies significantly between different cultures. In some countries, it is not considered a part of medicine but serves a more social purpose, designed to improve mood and help people relax. In other countries, massage is fully integrated into the healthcare service as one of the many possible processes of physical therapy. In the US, massage would be considered a complementary or alternative medical treatment, i.e. it serves as a back-up to conventional medicine. Thus, when combined with other treatments, massage therapy helps to improve the mobility of joints, reduce swelling, ease muscle spasms and reduce pain. In accepting massage, the US medical profession is recognizing patients can get the best of both worlds: the healing powers of Western science and the more spiritual and relaxing powers of Eastern wellness. Massage is therefore increasingly made available to treat both physical conditions causing neck and back pain, nerve pain, etc., and also mental disorders such as anxiety, stress-related insomnia, etc.

In accepting massage in its hospitals, the US healthcare service is opening itself to the increasing body of scientific evidence showing massage as an effective treatment. Until a few years ago, the medical profession resisted holding clinical trials to test "alternative" remedies. Such studies as existed in other countries were treated with some contempt. Massage was nothing more that an indulgence in high-priced spas. Now the manipulation of the soft tissues by a skilled therapist is acknowledged to reduce physical pain, relieve stress and bring down blood pressure. The methods differ depending on the purpose of the treatment. In general, the therapist will press, manipulate and rub the relevant parts of the body. Most techniques rely on the use of the hands and fingers, but others use the forearm, elbow and, in a few cases, the feet. The pressure may be light and involve gentle stroking. Or it can involve the use of significant pressure to knead and reach down to deep layers of muscle.

If you are experiencing muscle spasms, i.e. an involuntary contraction like cramp that persists, the combination of massage therapy and the use of a muscle relaxant like skelaxin has been found particularly effective. This most commonly occurs in the back, buttocks and legs. It may be from a physical cause such as a herniated disk or sciatica with pain radiating from the nerve. The manipulation of the disk can rapidly reduce pain and improve mobility. As the more acute symptoms are relieved, the drug will ease the problems in the muscles and reduce the risk of further spasms. In the case of sciatica, more aggressive treatment may be required in the use of steroids or, if the pain does not subside, surgery. But, in all this, the therapist will be able to guide you through the process of relieving the acute symptoms and planning a rehabilitation regime to reduce the risk of the problems recurring. At this time, it is most useful if your doctor and the therapist work as a team. That gives you the best advice on the use of prescription painkillers and drugs like skelaxin, while receiving comprehensive physical therapy. It delays treatment and can lead to misunderstandings if you constantly have to move between different hospital or clinic departments.


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