‘THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE- THE ART OF MANUAL MEDICINE’

 

After thirteen years of opening my office daily I still-at times, find the need to prove the value of massage as a healing art to those that question it so ardently. In a month’s time we greet an average of 150-160 clients a month that return again and again for massage, so why should I care? With those kinds of statistics I certainly don’t have anything to prove to anyone.  Our clients see the value and come for relaxation, stress reduction, relief from migraine headache, low back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia like symptoms, sports and other kinds of injuries, and a variety of other maladies that plague the average individual from time to time. 

 

My need, I think stems from my science based analytical mind, my background in traditional medicine as a nurse and a naturally curious nature. I keep asking myself, how is it that one simple therapy could have such positive effects on so many different kinds of ailments? The answers are at least in part are far removed from the hard core analytical science based ones that will satisfy. Therefore, when I come across the kind of study recently published in the peer reviewed journal “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine” it’s worth sharing.

 

A study performed on a total of 113 hospitalized patients at The University Hospital, Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver gave these findings. Patient perceptions of their responses to massage as well as the healthcare provider’s perceptions of patient responses to massage were as follows: 71-98%responded positively to these categories, ability to move around, increased energy levels, relaxation, sense of well being, faster rate of recovery and positive mood change. The health care professionals responded positively 57-86% in their evaluation of the patient’s mobility, energy levels, relaxation, sense of well being, positive change in mood and decreased levels of discomfort. The study ended with a dissected discussion of the benefits of massage used as an in house treatment intervention reducing the need for external treatments- (i.e. manual medicine lessening the need for other medicines) such as medications for pain, sleep and anxiety, and therefore proved to be a cost effective tool in health care
 management.

 

Massage is one of the oldest known forms of treatment. Hippocrates described massage as ‘valuable for treating a variety of ills, from sprains to constipation.” Once performed by nurses, massage was a traditional therapeutic practice for the care of the hospitalized patient, it has since been discarded in today’s high tech world of medicine.

Dolores Krieger, nurse Ph.D. and founder of The American Holistic Nurses Association states “the therapeutic use of the hands is an act that we have all but forgotten in this scientific age in our adulation of things mechanical, synthetic, and frequently, anti human.”

 

This same study goes on to point out that the patient entering the hospital environment is a stranger in a foreign culture and massage would be a way to create an atmosphere of caring, compassion and nurturing, and invites greater participation in the healing process. Still some argue the value of massage therapy because of its transitory nature. Is anything that permanent, doesn’t the pain pill or the anti-inflammatory drug not have to be repeated?

 

Just as the hospital seems foreign to a patient, so does our high tech world of stress we live in each day. The human hand that conveys warmth, comfort and reassurance works wonders to relieve everyday stress, anxiety and helps promote a sense of well being and a good night’s sleep. At last massage therapy whether hospital based or private practice offers promise in reclaiming touch and massage as an essential element of health and healing. Till next time, Rebecca