The first step is to define what is chronic pain. Chronic pain is something you have had for a long time. Some people may define that for years, a year, or even just 6 months. For many of my clients it is not usually a constant chronic pain. It can come in waves. Bothering a client for a week or a month then going away. Yet if the same pain comes back then it is considered chronic and the same issue/ injury.
In my own experience I have had some low back for years now. Often I would forget that the same issue would come back since it was only once a year. However after last November when I had Can of worms, I found a picture from the year before where I had Kinesio tape on my back. I then remembered that i had to take some time off my bike from it. This year was the worse I have ever had and I was able to get a diagnosis of a herniated disk. I have a feeling it has been herniated before. This knowledge will help me better take care of my back so this pain flair up won’t happen again. Things like being careful bending my back in flexion. Getting a better position in my bike.
In my experience both with myself and with clients is that chronic conditions usually require a mix of different modalities. For me and my clients a part of that is myofascial release. That is why they search me out. I believe we unconsciously know what we need if we only follow our intuition. This healing cocktail could also include chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, dry needling, different massage modality, energy work, or emotional work like talking to a therapist.
Just like it can be hard to find the perfect modality mix to help it can also be hard to figure out what caused the initial injury. Sometimes clients come to me after a new injury triggers and old one. I had a hammock injury 3 or 4 years back where my tailbone broke my fall onto the cement. However I also had 15 years doing pedicures and that is a very bad position for your back. I would remember how stiff I would get when I got up at the end.
So how can massage help chronic conditions? Like I just said that I have only found myofascial release to help me with my pain. That is because my pain is caused by fascia restrictions. If your pain is caused by muscular tension the traditional massage may be what helps you. When I got diagnosed with the herniated disk it was implied they didn’t think massage or myofascial release would help. Then just a week later I was stuck on the floor with back spasms. The body is all connected. Just because my injury is in my disk doesn’t mean the muscles and the fascia aren’t affected.
If you have not found relief in your chronic pain. I encourage you to keep trying different things until you find that perfect cocktail. That includes trying different massage modalities until you find one that works for you. Also have patience. If your sessions even get you some pain relief for a few days know that it is working and keep getting sessions. Time does not heal… it numbs, creates commentary patterns, and comes back in a vengeance.