If you had an injury, developed arthritis, or surgery in the low back, hip, or knee area you most likely have had pain in one of the other areas. And the pain can be so intense it is hard to believe it isn’t the source. Then it becomes challenging and frustrating to figure out what to do to feel better. In this blog I will outline how I analyze this situation as a massage therapist and offer relief.
I view the body as a whole and what I mean by that is I see there are different systems working separately and together. For example our nervous system allows us to control our motor skills. We can think about standing up out of a chair and our nerves send the signal to the muscles that need to move. Both the nerves and the muscles have separate and distinctive jobs but they need to work together. There are so many systems at work since our bodies are amazingly complex and this complexity explains why there are so many therapists and doctors who specialize in different systems. Each specialized practitioner has their own set of tests and evaluation to find different and valuable information. An orthopedic doctor might order an MRI to look for fractures or arthritis, a physical therapist might look at range of motion and strength(or lack of strength). In this example, Dr. Lund D.C., discusses his evaluation of alignment of the bones in the leg:
All of this information, from multiple specialists, is useful and many times necessary since the pain you are feeling the most intensely could be a compensation from another issue.
When I have a client come in with pain in the low back/hip/knee area, my main focus in massage is to address circulation in the fascia and muscle tissues. I break-up and soften scar tissue and relax knotted up areas of fascia and muscles. While I work on this I look at patterns of tension, offering clues of muscle overuse and underuse. I also look for tense muscles or fascia near a joint and look for clues of how the body is compensating and possibly affecting posture and movement. Many times just increasing circulation in the tissue calms the nervous system offering some relief, even if it is temporary.
Can massage fix the pain? In rare cases it is just a matter of increasing circulation and then massage is all that is needed. Most of the time massage is a very helpful supportive therapy along with physical therapy or other treatments. I strongly believe in working together with and being supportive of other modality specialties since our body works the best when we treat it as a whole.