Migraines

 Migraines
Massage for Headaches, Migraine RELIEF in Santa Barbara, Goleta
Massage for headaches and migraines has proven to be an effective measure for reducing both chronic migraines and tension headaches. Massage also eases the muscle tension in the neck, jaw, and shoulders, which can cause headaches in the first place.

Trigger Point and Deep Tissue Massage are the best massage modalities to help these conditions-

Trigger Point

Massage for Tension Headaches, Migraines and even Vertigo, Trigger Point, Santa Barbara, Goleta

Massage for Tension Headaches:

Headaches are one of the conditions that could be suffered by anyone and the cause could be serious or not. However, frequent headache is not only annoying but could be a warning of certain conditions that required further checkup. The treatment of headaches is based on the causes and massage is one of the solutions to treat headaches. Before you find out more about the benefits of massage for tension headaches, finding out more about symptoms, causes, and types of headaches may help you understand more about this condition.

Generally, headaches are just conditioned when people feel uncomfortable throbbing pain in their head or neck area. However, do you really know what the main cause of headaches is? Based on the causes there are two types of headaches:

Massage for Tension Headaches, Migraines and even Vertigo, Santa Barbara, Goleta
Massage for Tension Headaches, Migraines and even Vertigo, Santa Barbara, Goleta
  1. Primary Headache

A primary headache is not dangerous because it occurs not caused by other health or structural problems. Migraine and tension headache are two examples of primary headaches. The causes of primary headaches are such as insomnia, stress, work pressure, dehydration, and other things related to daily problems. Once you could deal with the problem, the pain will be eased up naturally.

  1. Secondary Headache

Unlike a primary headache, a secondary headache may occur caused by underlying diseases. In other words, the headache may be the symptom of certain dangerous health conditions such as head injury, infection, brain bleed, and even tumor.

As mentioned above, tension headache is included in primary headache and one of the ways you could do to deal with this condition is massaging. Most people may depend on the use of pain killer for their tension headaches but if you know the benefits of massage for tension headaches you don’t need pain killer anymore.

Benefits of Massage for Tension Headaches

One of the benefits of full body massage is to release muscle tension and pain commonly applied through fingers and hands, though there are some techniques that are using the elbow, feet, and specific massage device. In the matter of dealing with tension headaches, studies have found out about some amazing benefits of massage to help to relieve the throbbing pain caused by headaches.

  1. Help Maintaining the Level of Relaxation

Massage has been claimed to be an effective solution in maintaining relaxation. Tensed body and muscles may lead to headaches. That’s why taking massage regularly may help to maintain the level of relaxation in your body and as the result, you could prevent tension headaches and migraine attacks. So, instead of taking a pain killer is better to spend some time to have your body massaged. Further studies also stated the possibility of massage in order to reduce the symptoms of depression.

  1. Could Acts as Stress Relief

There are a lot of factors that could cause stress. Workload pressure, personal matters, unsupportive environment are just some examples of conditions that cause stress. However, stress is not only in your head but could be suffered by your body as well. When your body and mind could no longer able to deal with stressful situations, conditions like headaches may occur. Massage will help to release the tension and at the same time healing the headache and relieving the stress.

  1. The solution to Tensed Muscles

Most people may not know that headaches could be caused by tensed muscles or muscle spasms as well. When your muscles are tensed, your body will suffer stressful conditions without you realize it. However, when your body is under pressure, a headache is likely to occur. So, instead of taking a pain killer to treat the headache is highly recommended for you to do massage and release the tension in the muscles. When your muscles are relaxed, the headache will leave you naturally.

  1. Promotes Better Sleep Pattern

Among the causes of insomnia, stress and tensed muscles are the common causes. Insomnia is one of the conditions that could lead to headaches. If that happens will be difficult for you to concentrate and focus in the morning. There are a lot of health benefits of deep sleep but when you lose the chance to have a good night’s sleep, your mood will be in danger and you may lose your appetite. Massage has been well known to be the best solution that promotes a better sleep pattern. So, if you have insomnia problems, it is probably the main reason why you have frequent headaches. Instead of taking a pain killer as a short-term solution, massage is a safer, healthier long-term solution.

  1. Increases Serotonin Level

Some studies have stated that massage could help to stimulate the production of certain hormones and one of them is serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for regulating your mood, appetite, and sleep pattern. When serotonin in your body is at a low level, stress is the first symptom that you will face before uncomfortable throbbing in your head well known as headaches.

  1. Help in Regulating Mood

As mentioned above, one of the natural ways to regulate your mood is by making sure the serotonin level in your body is at a safe level. Massage is one of the solutions to help in maintaining the serotonin level to help to regulate your mood always in check. The use of aromatherapy could optimize the process because one of the health benefits of lavender oil is to improve mood.

  1. Improves Appetite

There are a lot of factors that could cause someone losing appetite. Losing appetite is mostly temporarily but if it is becoming a frequent problem, perhaps you should find the solution right away. When you lose your appetite, your body will lose some essential nutrients for metabolism. Unhealthy metabolism could lead to certain conditions like headache which is the indication when your body is suffering from certain nutrients deficiencies.

  1. Optimizes the Blood Flow

Massage is a technique that has been used to relieve the muscle tension and in the process also helping in optimizing the blood flow. When blood cannot flow normally, headache is the symptom that may occur because the head area is not getting enough oxygen because one of the benefits of oxygen is contributing optimal function of cognitive and brain function. In other words, when blood is flow optimally, condition like headache could be prevented.

  1. Reduces the Medication Usage

The easiest solution to deal with headache is by taking pain killers. However, medication or drug is not without side effect. That’s why finding natural alternative solution is highly recommended. As mentioned above, massage could help preventing headache and also treating headache by dealing with the root of the problem. In other words, there is no point anymore for you to take pain killers to treat headaches if you could do massage.

Massage is one of the alternative solutions to help in dealing with headaches. However, there is one important thing you should note when relying on your headache problem using massage technique if the headache continues, becomes worse or turns into frequent headaches, meeting your doctor is highly recommended because there is always possible that the headache is a symptom of underlying conditions which required immediate treatment.

  • Click on the links below

Upper Back, Shoulder, and ArmTorsoLower TorsoLeg, Ankle & FootHip, Thigh & KneeHead and NeckForearm & Hand Pain

Other symptom checker links:

https://www.myofascialtherapy.org/symptom-checker

trigger point is a small knot in your muscle. These muscle knots can cause pain where it originates or further away, in a spot that seems complete unconnected. Trigger points are responsible for a majority of all pain syndromes, especially that caused by myofascial trigger points.

What causes a trigger point?

  • Trigger Points

Muscle inflammation can be caused by repetitive strain, lack of muscle activity, or a direct muscle injury. When muscles are stressed or injured, they often form tender“trigger points” that feel like dense tight knots in the muscle tissue.

What does a trigger point feel like?

Trigger points feel like little marbles or knots just under your skin. When pressing on trigger points, many people feel no pain or discomfort. Sometimes, trigger points become very sensitive, and some people feel significant pain in areas where they have trigger points.

Will trigger points ever go away?

And untreated trigger points can last forever. No one really knows why a trigger point would ever go away, or why it would stop once its started. Fortunately, they often do go away. … While the injury heals, trigger point pain overstays its welcome.

Does everyone have trigger points?

Trigger points can cause pain directly. Trigger points are a “natural” part of muscle tissue.15 Just as almost everyone gets some pimples, sooner or later almosteveryone gets muscle knots — and you get pain with no other explanation or issue. … Trigger points complicate injuries and other painful problems.

Trigger points are discrete, focal, hyperirritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. They produce pain locally and in a referred pattern and often accompany chronic musculoskeletal disorders. Acute trauma or repetitive microtrauma may lead to the development of stress on muscle fibers and the formation of trigger points. Patients may have regional, persistent pain resulting in a decreased range of motion in the affected muscles. These include muscles used to maintain body posture, such as those in the neck, shoulders, and pelvic girdle. Trigger points may also manifest as a tension headache, tinnitus, temporomandibular joint pain, decreased the range of motion in the legs, and low back pain. Palpation of a hypersensitive bundle or nodule of muscle fiber of harder than normal consistency is the physical finding typically associated with a trigger point. Palpation of the trigger point will elicit pain directly over the affected area and/or cause radiation of pain toward a zone of reference and a local twitch response. Various modalities, such as the Spray and Stretch technique, ultrasonography, manipulative therapy, and injection, are used to inactivate trigger points. Trigger-point injection has been shown to be one of the most effective treatment modalities to inactivate trigger points and provide prompt relief of symptoms.

About 23 million persons, or 10 percent of the U.S. population, have one or more chronic disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Musculoskeletal disorders are the main cause of disability in the working-age population and are among the leading causes of disability in other age groups. Myofascial pain syndrome is a common painful muscle disorder caused by myofascial trigger points.  This must be differentiated from fibromyalgia syndrome, which involves multiple tender spots or tender points.3 These pain syndromes are often concomitant and may interact with one another.

Trigger points are discrete, focal, hyperirritable spots located in a taut band of skeletal muscle. The spots are painful on compression and can produce referred pain, referred tenderness, motor dysfunction, and autonomic phenomena.4

Trigger points are classified as being active or latent, depending on their clinical characteristics. An active trigger point causes pain at rest. It is tender to palpation with a referred pain pattern that is similar to the patient’s pain complaint. This referred pain is felt not at the site of the trigger-point origin, but remote from it. The pain is often described as spreading or radiating. Referred pain is an important characteristic of a trigger point. It differentiates a trigger point from a tender point, which is associated with pain at the site of palpation only.

TABLE 1

Trigger Points vs. Tender Points

TRIGGER POINTS TENDER POINTS
Local tenderness, taut band, local twitch response, jump sign Local tenderness
Singular or multiple Multiple
May occur in any skeletal muscle Occur in specific locations that aresymmetrically located
May cause a specific referred pain pattern

A latent trigger point does not cause spontaneous pain, but may restrict movement or cause muscle weakness. The patient presenting with muscle restrictions or weakness may become aware of pain originating from a latent trigger point only when pressure is applied directly over the point.9

Moreover, when firm pressure is applied over the trigger point in a snapping fashion perpendicular to the muscle, a “local twitch response” is often elicited.

Evaluation

Palpation of a hypersensitive bundle or nodule of muscle fiber of harder than normal consistency is the physical finding most often associated with a trigger point.1 Localization of a trigger point is based on the physician’s sense of feel, assisted by patient expressions of pain and by visual and palpable observations of local twitch response. This palpation will elicit pain over the palpated muscle and/or cause radiation of pain toward the zone of reference in addition to a twitch response. The commonly encountered locations of trigger points and their pain reference zones are consistent.

A local twitch response is defined as a transient visible or palpable contraction or dimpling of the muscle and skin as the tense muscle fibers (taut band) of the trigger point contract when pressure is applied. This response is elicited by a sudden change of pressure on the trigger point by needle penetration into the trigger point or by transverse snapping palpation of the trigger point across the direction of the taut band of muscle fibers. Thus, a classic trigger point is defined as the presence of discrete focal tenderness located in a palpable taut band of skeletal muscle, which produces both referred regional pain (zone of reference) and a local twitch response. Trigger points help define myofascial pain syndromes.

Tender points, by comparison, are associated with pain at the site of palpation only, are not associated with referred pain, and occur in the insertion zone of muscles, not in taut bands in the muscle belly.8 Patients with fibromyalgia have tender points by definition. Concomitantly, patients may also have trigger points with myofascial pain syndrome. Thus, these two pain syndromes may overlap in symptoms and be difficult to differentiate without a thorough examination by a skilled physician.

Myofascial trigger points, also known as trigger points, are described as hyperirritable spots in the skeletal muscle. They are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers.[ They are a topic of ongoing controversy, as there is limited data to inform a scientific understanding of the phenomenon. Accordingly, a formal acceptance of myofascial “knots” as an identifiable source of pain is more common among bodyworkersphysical therapistschiropractors, and osteopathic practitioners. Nonetheless, the concept of trigger points provides a framework which may be used to help address certain musculoskeletal pain.

The trigger point model states that unexplained pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Practitioners claim to have identified reliable referred pain patterns which associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere. There is variation in the methodology for diagnosis of trigger points and a dearth of theory to explain how they arise and why they produce specific patterns of referred pain.[

Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction.

Among physicians, various specialists might use trigger point therapy. These include physiatrists (physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation), family medicine, and orthopedics. Osteopathic as well as chiropractic schools also include trigger points in their training.[ Other health professionals, such as athletic trainersoccupational therapistsphysiotherapistsacupuncturistsmassage therapists and structural integrators are also aware of these ideas and many of them make use of trigger points in their clinical work as well.

Pathophysiolog

Activation of trigger points may be caused by a number of factors, including acute or chronic muscle overload, activation by other trigger points (key/satellite, primary/secondary), disease, psychological distress (via systemic inflammation), homeostatic imbalances, direct trauma to the region, collision trauma (such as a car crash which stresses many muscles and causes instant trigger points) radiculopathy, infections and health issues such as smoking.

Trigger points form only in muscles. They form as a local contraction in a small number of muscle fibers in a larger muscle or muscle bundle. These in turn can pull on tendons and ligaments associated with the muscle and can cause pain deep within a joint where there are no muscles. The integrated hypothesis theory states that trigger points form from excessive release of acetylcholine which produces sustained depolarization of muscle fibers. Indeed, the trigger point has an abnormal biochemical composition with elevated concentrations of acetylcholine, noradrenaline and serotonin and a lower pH. These sustained contractions of muscle sarcomeres compresses local blood supply restricting the energy needs of the local region. This crisis of energy produces sensitizing substances that interact with some nociceptive (pain) nerves traversing in the local region which in turn can produce localized pain within the muscle at the neuromuscular junction (Travell and Simons 1999). When trigger points are present in muscles there is often pain and weakness in the associated structures. These pain patterns in muscles follow specific nerve pathways and have been readily mapped to allow for identification of the causative pain factor. Many trigger points have pain patterns that overlap, and some create reciprocal cyclic relationships that need to be treated extensively to remove them.

Diagnosis

Practitioners do not agree on what constitutes a trigger point, but the assessment typically considers symptoms, pain patterns and manual palpation. Usually there is a taut band in muscles containing trigger points, and a hard nodule can be felt. Often a twitch response can be felt in the muscle by running your finger perpendicular to the muscle’s direction; this twitch response often activates the “all or nothing” response in a muscle that causes it to contract. Pressing on an affected muscle can often refer pain. Clusters of trigger points are not uncommon in some of the larger muscles, such as the gluteus group (gluteus maximusgluteus medius, and gluteus minimus). Often there is a heat differential in the local area of a trigger point.[c

A 2007 review of diagnostic criteria used in studies of trigger points concluded that”there is as yet limited consensus on case definition in respect of MTrP pain syndrome. Further research is needed to test the reliability and validity of diagnostic criteria. Until reliable diagnostic criteria have been established, there is a need for greater transparency in research papers on how a case of MTrP pain syndrome is defined, and claims for effective interventions in treating the condition should be viewed with caution.”[

A 2009 review of nine studies examining the reliability of trigger point diagnosis found that physical examination could not be recommended as reliable for the diagnosis of trigger points.[

Imaging

A 2008 review in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of two recent studies concludes they present findings that can reduce some of the controversy surrounding the cause and identification of myofascial trigger points (MTPs).[ The study by Chen on the use of magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) imaging of the taut band of an MTP in an upper trapezius muscle may present a convincing demonstration of the cause of MTP symptoms. MRE is a modification of existing magnetic resonance imaging equipment to image stress produced by adjacent tissues with different degrees of tension. This report presents an MRE image of the taut band that shows the V-shaped signature of the increased tension compared with surrounding tissues. Results were all consistent with the concept that taut bands are detectable and quantifiable with MRE imaging. The findings in the subjects suggest that the stiffness of the taut bands in patients with myofascial pain may be 50% greater than that of the surrounding muscle tissue. The findings suggest that MRE can quantitate asymmetries in muscle tone that could previously only be identified subjectively by examination.

In the study by Shah and associates, they have shown the feasibility of continuous, in vivo recovery of small molecules from soft tissue without harmful effects. With this technique, they have been able to investigate the biochemistry of muscle in subjects with myofascial trigger points and to contrast this with that of the noninvolved muscle.[

Myofascial pain syndrome

The main innovation of Travell’s work was the introduction of the myofascial pain syndrome concept (myofascial referring to the fascia that surrounds and permeates muscle). This is described as a focal hyperirritability in muscle that can strongly modulate central nervous system functions. Travell and followers distinguish this from fibromyalgia, which is characterized by widespread pain and tenderness and is described as a central augmentation of nociception giving rise to deep tissue tenderness that includes muscles. Studies estimate that in 75–95 percent of cases, myofascial pain is a primary cause of regional pain. Myofascial pain is associated with muscle tenderness that arises from trigger points, focal points of tenderness, a few millimeters in diameter, found at multiple sites in a muscle and the fascia of muscle tissue. Biopsy tests found that trigger points were hyperirritable and electrically active muscle spindles in general muscle tissue.[

Misdiagnosis of pain

The misdiagnosis of pain is the most important issue taken up by Travell and Simons. Referred pain from trigger points mimics the symptoms of a very long list of common maladies, but physicians, in weighing all the possible causes for a given condition, rarely consider a myofascial source. The study of trigger points has not historically been part of medical education. Travell and Simons hold that most of the common everyday pain is caused by myofascial trigger points and that ignorance of that basic concept could inevitably lead to false diagnoses and the ultimate failure to deal effectively with pain.[

Treatment

Physical muscle treatment

Therapists may use myotherapy (deep pressure as in Bonnie Prudden‘s approach, massage or tapotement as in Dr. Griner’s approach), mechanical vibration, pulsed ultrasoundelectrostimulation,[ ischemic compression, trigger-point-injection (see below), dry-needling, “spray-and-stretch” using a cooling spray (vapocoolant), low-level laser therapy and stretching techniques that invoke reciprocal inhibition within the musculoskeletal system. Practitioners may use elbows, feet or various tools to direct pressure directly upon the trigger point, to avoid overuse of their hands.

A successful treatment protocol relies on identifying trigger points, resolving them and, if all trigger points have been deactivated, elongating the structures affected along their natural range of motion and length. In the case of muscles, which is where most treatment occurs, this involves stretching the muscle using combinations of passive, active, active isolated (AIS), muscle energy techniques (MET), and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching to be effective. Fascia surrounding muscles should also be treated to elongate and resolve strain patterns, otherwise muscles will simply be returned to positions where trigger points are likely to re-develop.

The results of manual therapy are related to the skill level of the therapist. If trigger points are pressed too short a time, they may activate or remain active; if pressed too long or hard, they may be irritated or the muscle may be bruised, resulting in pain in the area treated. This bruising may last for a 1–3 days after treatment, and may feel like, but is not similar to, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)[c, the pain felt days after overexerting muscles. Pain is also common after a massage if the practitioner uses pressure on unnoticed latent or active trigger points, or is not skilled in myofascial trigger point therapy.

Researchers of evidence-based medicine concluded as of 2001 that evidence for the usefulness of trigger points in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is thin. More recently, an association has been made between fibromyalgia tender points and active trigger points.[

Trigger-point-injection

Injections without anesthetics, or dry needling, and injections including saline, local anesthetics such as procaine hydrochloride (Novocain) or articaine without vasoconstrictors like epinephrine,[ steroids, and botulinum toxin provide more immediate relief and can be effective when other methods fail. In regards to injections with anesthetics, a low concentration, short acting local anesthetic such as procaine 0.5% without steroids or epinephrine is recommended. High concentrations or long acting local anesthetics as well as epinephrine can cause muscle necrosis, while use of steroids can cause tissue damage.

Despite the concerns about long acting agents,[ a mixture of lidocaine and marcaine is often used. A mixture of 1 part 2% lidocaine with 3 parts 0.5% bupivacaine (trade name:Marcaine) provides 0.5% lidocaine and 0.375% bupivacaine. This has the advantages of immediate anesthesia with lidocaine during injection to minimize injection pain while providing a longer duration of action with a lowered concentration of bupivacaine.

In 1979, a study by Czech physician Karl Lewit reported that dry needling had the same success rate as anesthetic injections for the treatment of trigger points. He dubbed this the ‘needle effect’.[

In the 1950s and 1960s, studies relevant to trigger points were done by J. H. Kellgren at University College Hospital, London, in the 1930s and, independently, by Michael Gutstein in Berlin and Michael Kelly in Australia. [

Health insurance companies in the US such as Blue Cross, Medica, and HealthPartners began covering trigger point injections in 2005.[

Risks

Treatment, whether by self or by a professional, has some inherent dangers. It may lead to damage of soft tissue and other organs. The trigger points in the upper quadratus lumborum, for instance, are very close to the kidneys and poorly administered treatment (particularly injections) may lead to kidney damage. Likewise, treating the masseter muscle may damage the salivary glands superficial to this muscle. Furthermore, some experts believe trigger points may develop as a protective measure against unstable.

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( I donate ) – thanks

Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy – What Is It?

The word myofascial means muscle tissue (myo) and the connective tissue in and around it (fascia). Myofascial pain often results from muscle injury or repetitive strain. When stressed or injured, muscles often form trigger points, like contracted knots, that cause pain and tightness.[mī·ōfa′shē·əl]“pertaining to a muscle and its sheath of connective tissue, or fascia.”     Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

Myofascial trigger points are an extremely common cause of pain. Trigger points are painful when pressed on, cause a shortening of the muscle fibers, and have a special property called referred pain. Referred pain means that a trigger point in one muscle can create pain in another area.

For instance, when the muscle at the top of your shoulder (trapezius) has a trigger point it will refer pain up the side of your neck and head causing a headache. Active myofascial trigger points in the muscles of the shoulder neck and face are a common source of headaches.  In many instances, the headache has the features of so-called tension headache, but there is increasing acceptance that myofascial trigger points may initiate classical migraine headaches or be part of a mixed tension/migraine headache complex.

Muscles make up between 36-42% of body weight, on average. They are a large percentage of our total weight and have a corresponding impact on our health. When all is in working order, muscles allow us to perform normal activities with ease. When our muscles harbor trigger points, we experience pain, stiffness and tension, physical limitation and loss of normal function.

Factors commonly cited as predisposing to trigger point formation include but are not limited to: de-conditioning, poor posture, repetitive mechanical stress, mechanical imbalance (e.g. leg length inequality), joint disorders, non-restorative sleep and vitamin deficiencies.

A diagnosis of Myofascial Pain Syndrome or Chronic Myofascial Pain means that the primary source of your symptoms are from these myofascial trigger points. Often, trigger points are present secondary to other sources of pain, such as arthritis or bulging discs. The trigger points may actually be causing the painful symptoms attributed to with these conditions. As such, they are often called “the great mimickers”.

Diagnoses include:

  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Rotator cuff (shoulder) pain
  • Jaw pain (TMJD)
  • Tennis elbow
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hand and arm pain
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries
  • Pelvic pain
  • Hip pain
  • “Sciatic” pain (buttock and leg pain)
  • Leg and knee pain
  • Plantar fascitis (foot) pain
  • Tendinitis/tendinopathy
  • Burstitis
  • Arthritis
  • Disc pain (bulge/rupture/herniation) and radiculopathy
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • and MUCH more

Muscles have been an under-treated cause of pain. In fact, with a specialized area of medicine for almost every area of the body (heart, eyes, lungs, intestines, kidneys, etc), oddly, there is no muscle specialty in medicine. Myofascial pain from trigger points is often over-looked as a possible source of pain by those seeking relief.

“Muscle is an orphan organ. No medical specialty claims it. As a consequence, no medical specialty is concerned with promoting funded research into the muscular causes of pain, and medical students and physical therapists rarely receive adequate primary training in how to recognize and treat myofascial trigger points.”
— David G.Simons, MD pioneer in myofascial pain and trigger points and aerospace physician

Unfortunately, common though the condition may be, the diagnoses and treatment of Myofascial Pain has yet to be included in most medical training. The majority of patients seeking relief from pain are still treated with the traditional approach of anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, anti depressant medications and/or strengthening programs. These prove ineffective, if not detrimental, as trigger points do not respond to them and may be aggravated by further straining (strengthening exercises). Currently there is no evidence that any form of drug treatment eliminates myofascial trigger points.  NSAIDs and other analgesics usually provide moderate but very temporary symptomatic relief.It is encouraging that myofascial trigger points are becoming more commonly considered when physicians diagnose their patients. Some primary care physicians, regularly administer trigger point injections. Some recognize the presence of trigger points and refer to Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists. Those that do, enjoy an enhanced success rate and grateful patients.

Research on Trigger Points

Patients evaluated in one pain management center were found to have a myofascial component to their pain in 95% of cases (Gerwin RD. A study of 96 subjects examined for both fibromyalgia and myofascial pain. J Musculoskeletal Pain 1995; 3 (suppl. 1):121-5.).  There is increasing awareness that active myofascial trigger points often play a role in the symptoms of patients with tension headaches (Fernandez-de-Las-Penas C, onso-Blanco C, Cuadrado ML, Gerwin RD, Pareja JA. Myofascial trigger points and their relationship to headache clinical parameters in chronic tension-type headache. Headache 2006; 46(8):1264-72.), low back pain, neck pain (Fernandez-de-Las-Penas C, onso-Blanco C, Miangolarra JC. Myofascial trigger points in subjects presenting with mechanical neck pain: A blinded, controlled study. Man Ther 2006; ), temporomandibular pain, forearm and hand pain, postural pain (Treaster D, Marras WS, Burr D, Sheedy JE, Hart D. Myofascial trigger point development from visual and postural stressors during computer work. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2005;), pelvic/urogenital pain syndromes.

How Trigger Points Are Formed

The damage to muscle and connective tissue which results in trigger points can occur several ways. It can happen as the result of:

  • Repetitive overuse injuries (using the same body parts in the same way hundreds of times on a daily basis) from activities such as typing/mousing, handheld electronics, gardening, home improvement projects, work environments, etc.
  • Sustained loading as with heavy lifting, carrying babies, briefcases, boxes, wearing body armor or lifting bedridden patients.
  • Habitually poor posture due to our sedentary lifestyles, de-conditioning and poorly designed furniture
  • Muscle clenching and tensing due to mental/emotional stress.
  • Direct injury such as a blow, strain, break, twist or tear. Think car accidents, sports injuries, falling down stairs and the like.
  • Surprisingly, trigger points can even develop due to inactivity such as prolonged bed rest or sitting.
Many researchers agree that acute trauma or repetitive microtrauma may lead to the development of a trigger point. Lack of exercise, prolonged poor posture, vitamin deficiencies, sleep disturbances joint problems may all predispose to the development of micro-trauma.

Active Trigger Points Cause Pain

After forming, trigger points have two phases, active and latent. The active, painful phase of the trigger point is the one which produces the unrelenting, debilitating pain symptoms and which motivates people to seek relief. The active trigger point hurts when pressed with a finger and causes pain around it and in other areas. It causes the muscle in which it’s located to be weak and due to the taut bands, to have limited flexibility. The active trigger point referral symptom may feel like a dull ache, deep, pressing pain, burning, or a sensation of numbness and fatigue. It can also cause sweating, tearing of eyes, goosebumps and dizziness. The affected dense, shortened muscles, laden with taut bands may even compress and entrap nerves, leading to another secondary set of symptoms. If unaddressed or ineffectively treated, eventually, other muscles around the dysfunctional one may be required to “take up the slack”, becoming stressed and developing secondary trigger points. It is not unusual for chronic pain patients to have multiple, overlapping referred pain patterns, making diagnosis and treatment more complex. It is easy to see why this widespread pain is often mistaken for Fibromyalgia – a related but separate diagnosis.

Latent Trigger Points Matter Too

Trigger points can also lie quietly in muscles, sometimes for years. This type of trigger point is called latent. Latent trigger points are very common. Unless you press on the trigger point and feel the tenderness, you probably don’t know they are there. Most people have at least a few. Latent trigger points may persist for years after apparent recovery from injury. Latent trigger points cause:

  • Restricted movement
  • Distorted muscle movement patterns
  • Stiffness and weakness of the affected muscle

They generally do not cause pain unless compressed. Many things can cause a trigger point to become active. An old injury that periodically re-surfaces (that “trick knee” or low back “going out”) may very likely be due to latent trigger points “waking up” and becoming active when aggravated by muscle overload, a cold draft, fatigue, infection, illness, or stress.

How Many Trigger Points Can I Have?

Since a trigger point is an abnormal biochemical and mechanical area in contracted muscle tissue, the number and exact location on each person can vary.  All muscle tissue is potentially prone to developing trigger points. Sometimes people have one trigger point but more often they have many. Prolonged referral of pain and weakness from a one trigger point to another area of the body will generally cause other trigger points to develop in that area. These, in turn, if left untreated, can activate and also refer pain, creating multiple pain patterns. The more areas that have pain and the longer you have had the pain, the more trigger points you are likely to have. It is rare for someone with pain to only have one or two muscles with trigger points.

Establishing if Trigger Points Are Present

A skilled practitioner who has been trained to recognize the symptoms of myofascial pain and palpate muscles for myofascial trigger points can assess whether myofascial trigger points are present. There are no commonly available lab tests or imaging studies that can confirm the diagnosis at this time. Myofascial trigger points can be seen on special MRI scans and special ultrasound but these are currently only used in research.

“Myofascial pain syndromes are muscle pain syndromes that are classified as musculoskeletal disorders. They have a defined pathophysiology that leads to the development of the characteristic taut or hard band in muscle that is tender and that refers pain to distant sites. MPS can be regional or generalized. If an MPS becomes chronic, it tends to generalize, but it does not become fibromyalgia. It can be classified both as a primary disorder without other medical illness, or as a secondary pain syndrome that occurs as a result of another process. MPS may persist long after the initiating event or condition has passed, but it is nonetheless a muscle disease that can be satisfactorily treated.”R

Treating Myofascial Pain with Trigger Point Therapy

Treating each trigger point is relatively simple. Treating the whole myofascial pain syndrome so that pain fully goes away is a more complicated process.

You cannot strengthen a muscle that has a trigger point, because the muscle is already physiologically contracted. Too many physical therapists see a weakened muscle and immediately attempt to strengthen it without testing for the presence of trigger points. Attempts at strengthening a muscle with trigger points will only cause the trigger points to worsen.

Since a trigger point is the contraction mechanism of the muscle locked into a shortened position, the treatment of the trigger point involves unlocking that contraction mechanism (sarcomere). This can be achieved in several ways. Trigger Point Pressure Release (David Simons, MD and Janet Travell, MD) involves applying pressure with a finger or other instrument to the trigger point and increasing the pressure as the trigger point “releases” and softens. There are a number of variations on this technique and a skilled practitioner will choose which is right for each patient and muscle treated.

Other techniques often used include Spray and Stretchwhich is a technique that uses a vapo-coolant spray (very cold because it evaporates the second it touches your skin) to distract the muscle into allowing a more complete stretch thereby helping to release the trigger point.

Once trigger points are released the muscle needs to be moved throughout its full range. Simple limbering movements done by the patient at home are important in the retraining of the muscle.

What to Expect from Treatment

Many patients experience relief from pain during the first treatment. For others several treatments are needed before their pain starts to diminish. It is common for patients to experience some soreness for one to two days after treatment. This usually resolves after the first few treatments. You may experience fatigue as the chronically held musculature is allowed to relax and return to a normal tone, however some patients experience an increase in energy. As the work-load of the musculature shifts and returns to abnormal balance, pain patterns may change. This is a temporary and normal stage of recovery from chronic pain. It is not uncommon for people to experience relief from symptoms they were not seeking treatment for, such as chronic hand and forearm pain clearing up after being treated for a stiff neck. Returning to normal activities without pain is most often accelerated by adherence to the self-care program given to you by your therapist. Minimizing stress, pacing your activities and avoidance of overexertion (as well as focusing on what you can do instead of your limitations) are of prime importance. Good communication, patience and a positive attitude are essential.

Your rate of improvement depends on many conditions:

  • Type of injury and length of time since it occurred.
  • Overall physical health and level of fitness
  • Perpetuating factors (many can be eliminated, others can not)
  • Underlying skeletal abnormalities
  • Nutrition (vitamin and mineral deficiencies, poor diet etc.)
  • Quality of sleep
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Patient compliance with self-care and eliminating or reducing perpetuating factors.
  • Other medical conditions (i.e. allergies, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, etc.)

Along with hands-on treatment to release myofascial trigger points, your therapist should:

  • Take a full medical and pain history
  • Evaluate your pain map for referred pain patterns
  • Assess the ergonomics of your work station and other regular activities.
  • Assess and make suggestions to improve the quality of your sleep
  • Make nutritional recommendations based on lab results from your physician ordered blood work or refer you to a qualified health care profesional to assist you with this.
  • Make suggestions how to choose an appropriate exercise/movement program and help you to encorporate it into your life.
  • Help you to learn some self-treatment, self management and self care to assist you to treat your condition and your trigger points. The degree that self care will help can depend on many factors including how complex the condition is, if perpetuating factors can be eliminated, your dedication to the self care/making changes and many others.

Trigger Point Images

Deep Tissue

Deep tissue massage between migraine attacks seemed to have the most favorable outcomes. (Deep tissue work during a migraine may exacerbate the pain.) ​ Massage relieves muscle tension and spasms in the shoulders, neck, and head.
PRO Therapeutic Massage Therapy, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Professional Customized Healing Therapeutic Advanced Deep Tissue Massage

Therapeutic massage is a general term that describes any type of massage modality that helps relieve pain, reduce stress, and work on a specific problem—such as a frozen shoulder. People tend to assume therapeutic massage means deep tissue massage, and that they will get a very strong massage.

What is therapeutic massage used for?

Therapeutic massage incorporates a variety of advanced modalities that enhance the body’s natural restorative functioning. Light to firm touch is used to release tension, relax muscles, increase blood and lymph circulation, and impart a sense of calm.

Therapeutic Massage does not need to cause intolerable or excruciating pain to get results. Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. The pressure will generally be more intense than a relaxation massage.
This form of therapy involves hands-on techniques to increase circulation, relieve tension, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and promote relaxation throughout the entire body, as well as many other benefits. The body’s soft tissue areas include the muscles, tendons, connective tissue, etc.

What is Therapeutic Massage Therapy?

Therapeutic Massage Therapy is defined as the mobilization of soft tissue (such as muscle, fascia and body fluids) to restore normal systemic and bio-mechanical/functional use. It can be used to assist in the treatment of most musculo-skeletal and associated problems, and regular Therapeutic Massage Therapy results in improved circulatory, lymphatic and neurological functioning.

Therapeutic Massage Therapy is a great way to improve your quality of life. It relieves stress, can be both stimulating or soothing, and helps to create inner balance and harmony.

Therapeutic Massage can be stimulating or soothing depending on the technique, depth and speed. Carried out by a Registered Therapist, Therapeutic Massage Therapy is both safe and effective and helps to create balance and harmony from within.

Today, given the high levels of stress under which many people live, Therapeutic Massage Therapy is not only a highly beneficial therapy, but also one of the healthiest options to improving one’s quality of life.

Swedish Massage Therapy - PRO Therapeutic Massage in Santa Barbara, Goleta

Benefits of Therapeutic Massage Therapy

The benefits of Therapeutic Massage Therapy are profound and are becoming even more attractive as the world around us becomes more stressed, aggressive and anxiety ridden. Many companies in South Africa are beginning to adopt Therapeutic Massage Therapy in their own organizations and are actively encouraging their employees to have ongoing treatments.

Through the manipulations of the body’s soft tissue and muscles, therapeutic massage relieves muscle aches and pains. This practice is often used in sports conditioning, but it can also be beneficial in a variety of other ways. Therapeutic massage can help with the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relaxation
  • Sleep problems
  • Stress reduction
  • Immune system function

Also, therapeutic Massage Therapy could be a relevant choice of health care in the following areas:

– Health maintenance and/or health promotion: Promotes general tissue health and encourages lifestyle and general health awareness

– Stress management: Helps relieve associated muscular tension and encourages general relaxation

– Post-operative care:  Helps reduce recovery period and speeds up elimination of anesthetic, as well as reducing pain and stiffness associated with bed-rest

– Emotional and/or psychological disorders: Releases endorphins that help to uplift and reduce depression

– Terminal illness: Helps reduce pain and discomfort associated with long term bed-rest as well as providing support and reducing the effects of emotional stress for the patient as well as the family

– Chronic pain: Helps break the “pain spasm” cycle whilst reducing associated muscle tightness

– Care of the disabled: Provides emotional support as well as assisting in the maintenance of general tissue health

– Pre and/or post-event sports’ participation: Improves performance and recovery and reduces the likelihood of serious injury

Massage therapy is a treatment approach which is growing in demand and popularity. It was once considered an alternative or fringe approach, but it is now becoming much more mainstream. More importantly, now that massage therapy is considered a mainstream treatment option, many insurance companies provide coverage for treatment sessions. This form of therapy involves hands-on techniques to increase circulation, relieve tension, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and promote relaxation throughout the entire body, as well as many other benefits. The body’s soft tissue areas include the muscles, tendons, connective tissue, etc. If someone is tense and in need of a release, or they have been injured and have extensive muscle and/or nerve tissue damage that plagues their body, massage therapy might be worth exploring. Here are some benefits of massage therapy.

It Is Relaxing – When the body is tense and under stress, it produces unhealthy levels of the well-known stress hormone, cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain, sleeplessness, digestive problems, and headaches. Massage therapy has been shown to decrease cortisol levels in the body. This enables the body to enter a recovery mode. Moreover, this form of therapy also triggers lasting feelings of relaxation, improved mood, and reduced stress levels.

It Reduces Stress – Not only can massage therapy help with stress relief, but regular massage sessions over a prolonged period of time can boost energy levels, reduce pain, and stimulate individuals on physical as well as emotional levels.

It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure – Regular massage therapy sessions have been found to reduce blood pressure levels. In fact, some long-term studies have shown that a consistent massage program can reduce both systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) blood pressure. Moreover, it can also reduce cortisol levels within the body. Furthermore, consistent massage sessions can also reduce trigger sources for anxiety, hostility, tension, and depression. In turn, lower blood pressure levels can also reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and/or kidney failure, as well as many other health issues.

It Promotes Muscle Relaxation
 – The purpose of massage therapy is to target the source of the body’s pain via eliminating tense muscles, increasing flexibility, and providing relaxation to the affected muscles as well as the body as a whole. Massage also promotes circulation to the affected or injured muscles, which increases nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues. In turn, this increased activity to the affected sites reduces stiffness and edema (swelling) in the muscles and joints, as well as increases flexibility to help reduce pain. Moreover, this form of therapy also releases endorphins (pain-killing hormones), which boost the dopamine and serotonin levels in the body. These hormones assist the body in many ways–physically as well as emotionally. Case in point, they promote healing, pain management, and feelings of euphoria, as well as help to calm the nerves.

It Can Help Improve Circulation – The long-term benefits of massage therapy are not to be underestimated. Improved circulation is part of a snowball effect that occurs in the body as a result of receiving regular massage therapy on a consistent basis. This is because proper circulation brings damaged, stiff, and tense muscles the rich blood supply they need to promote healing.

Moreover, massage also promotes improved circulation via the use of hands-on pressure, which moves the blood through the damaged and congested areas of the body. In turn, the release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow into tissues. Furthermore, the squeezing, twisting, and pulling action of the massage technique also removes lactic acid from the muscle tissues. As a result, this action improves the lymph fluid circulation, which carries metabolic waste products away from internal organs and muscles. In turn, this results in lower blood pressure levels and improved overall body function.

It Can Help Improve Posture – Many Americans experience back, neck, and muscle pain from a variety of sources. However, the primary cause of this pain results from poor posture. In fact, chronic back pain, which is the number one reason for missed work days and second most common cause of disability, is often the result of incorrect or poor posture while standing and/or sitting. Moreover, being overweight, poor posture, and repetitive or overuse movements can also contribute to the strain on the back and other potential problem areas. As a result, the added strain often causes spasms, pain, and tense muscles in the hips, glutes, back, neck, and legs.

Massage therapy can help get the body back into proper alignment. In fact, improving one’s posture can be one of the most beneficial and relaxing aspects of massage therapy. Massage allows the body to relax and loosen the muscles made tense and sore via bad posture. In turn, this allows the body to position itself in its organic and pain-free posture. As part of a consistent massage therapy program, the body’s muscles are loosened and relaxed. Moreover, the joints have greater freedom, flexibility, range of motion, and pressure points are relieved. As a result, the body is able to position itself in an organic and healthy posture. In short, massage therapy helps to correct the positions and movements developed over time as a reaction to pain.

It Can Help Strengthen the Body’s Immune System – Regular massage sessions provide many benefits to the human body. It is a well-known fact that individuals who experience high levels of stress are more vulnerable to illness and injury. When stress is combined with sleep disturbances and poor nutrition, the impact is directed at the body’s immune system. Its ability to naturally protect itself against infections, pathogens, and bacteria is greatly reduced. Some might wonder how massage therapy benefits the immune system. Studies have indicated that regular massage sessions not only help reduce stress, but can also boost the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and enhances the body’s ability to deliver nourishment. Moreover, massage therapy can be a great addition to any exercise program. Much like regular exercise can keep the body fine-tuned, regular massage therapy can help keep the immune system strong and resilient.

Once considered an alternative or fringe approach, massage therapy is now much more mainstream and growing in popularity. More importantly, now that massage therapy is considered a mainstream treatment option, many insurance companies provide coverage for treatment sessions. This form of therapy involves hands-on techniques to increase circulation, relieve tension, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and promote relaxation throughout the entire body, as well as many other benefits.

Therapeutic Massage Therapy encompasses the philosophy that the body knows how to heal itself and touch is the messenger that sends the signal to the body to do what its own wisdom tells it. If it is practiced in a professional environment and applied correctly, it is one of the most powerful methods of treating and preventing pain as well as helping one to achieve a total state of well-being in a non-invasive, safe and healing way.

Types of Massage Therapeutic Massage

PRO Therapeutic Massage Therapy, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Professional Customized Healing Therapeutic Advanced Deep Tissue Massage
PRO Therapeutic Massage Therapy, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Professional Customized Healing Therapeutic Advanced Deep Tissue Massage

Massage has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, if you need or want a massage, you can choose from about 80 massage therapy styles with a wide variety of pressures, movements, and techniques. These all involve pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles and other soft tissues with hands and fingers. Sometimes, even forearms, elbows, or feet are used.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, up to 25 percent of American adults had a massage at least once during 2016-2017. And, they have a wide range of reasons for doing so. More and more people — especially baby boomers — recognize the health benefits of massage. They choose from among many massage styles to get relief from symptoms or to heal injuries, to help with certain health conditions, and to promote overall wellness.

 

You may have noticed that different massage styles are popular at different times. And you may have wondered whether each was just part of a passing fad or the latest, greatest massage technique? Even more important is how can you tell whether the latest style will actually help you?

Styles used in massage therapy range from long, smooth strokes to short, percussive strokes. Some massage therapists use oils and lotions; others do not. Most massage therapists have clients unclothe for a massage, but some do not. A massage can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours.

Before you can decide which massage style is best for you, you need to ask yourself a question. Do you simply want a massage for relaxation and stress control? Or do you need symptom relief or help with a certain health condition? Before booking a massage, let the therapist know what you’re looking for and ask which style the therapist uses. Many use more than one style. Or the therapist may customize your massage, depending on your age, condition, or any special needs or goals you have.

Swedish Massage

The most common type of massage is Swedish massage therapy. It involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on topmost layers of muscles. This is also combined with movement of the joints. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be both relaxing and energizing. And it may even help after an injury.

Four common strokes of Swedish massage are:

  • Effleurage: a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue
  • Petrissage: the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage
  • Friction: deep, circular movements that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other, helping to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
  • Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is best for giving attention to certain painful, stiff “trouble spots” in your body. The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on layers of muscles, tendons, or other tissues deep under your skin. Though less rhythmic than other types of massage, deep tissue massage may be therapeutic — relieving chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as back sprain.

Sports Massage

Developed to help with muscle systems used for a particular sport, sports massage uses a variety of approaches to help athletes in training — before, during, or after sports events. You might use it to promote flexibility and help prevent injuries. Or, it may help muscle strains, aiding healing after a sports injury.

Chair Massage

Ever gone to a county fair, music festival, or conference and envied other people getting chair massages? Passed by the chair massage section in an airport? Or, maybe you’re lucky enough to work at a company that offers 15- to 20-minute massages as a regular benefit. Onsite, chair massages are done while you’re seated fully clothed in a portable, specially designed chair. They usually involve a massage of your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands.

Shiatsu Massage

In Japanese, shiatsu means “finger pressure.” For shiatsu massage, the therapist uses varied, rhythmic pressure on certain precise points of the body. These points are called acupressure points, and they are believed to be important for the flow of the body’s vital energy, called chi. Proponents say shiatsu massage can help relieve blockages at these acupressure points.

Thai Massage

During a Thai massage, the therapist uses his or her body to move the client into a variety of positions. This type of massage includes compression of muscles, mobilization of joints, and acupressure.

Hot Stone Massage

For this kind of massage, the therapist places warmed stones on certain areas of the body, such as acupressure points. The stones may be used as massage tools or be temporarily left in place. Used along with other massage techniques, hot stones can be quite soothing and relaxing as they transmit heat deep into the body.

Reflexology

Reflexology uses hand, thumb, and finger techniques to stimulate certain areas of the feet. These areas are believed to correspond to different parts of the body. The massage, then, is expected to promote health and well-being.

Pregnancy Massage

During pregnancy, your body goes through major changes. Pregnancy massage can help with these changes by reducing stress, decreasing arm and leg swelling, and relieving muscle and joint pain. Massage may be particularly helpful during a time when medication and other medical options may be more limited. Using specially designed massage pillows, the massage therapist will help get you into a comfortable position for this type of massage.

What Are the Health Benefits of Massage?

Many types of massage offer benefits beyond simple relaxation. Here are just a few of the health problems that may benefit from massage. Ask your doctor before using massage for any health condition, though.

  • Back pain . More than one study has shown the effectiveness of massage therapy for back pain.
  • Headache . Another type of pain — headache — also responds to massage therapy. Some studies suggest that massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also improve sleep.
  • Osteoarthritis . In the first clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of Swedish massage for knee osteoarthritis, participants who received a one-hour massage either one or two times a week had improvements in pain, stiffness, and function. The control group had no such change.
  • Cancer. Used as a complement to traditional, Western medicine, massage can promote relaxation and reduce cancer symptoms or side effects of treatment. It may help reduce pain, swelling, fatigue, nausea, or depression, for example, or improve the function of your immune system. However, there are specific areas that a massage therapist should avoid in a cancer patient, as well as times when massage should be avoided altogether. Talk to your doctor before getting massage therapy if you have cancer.
  • Depression. A review of 17 clinical trials found that massage therapy may help reduce depression. But for generalized anxiety disorder, it was no more effective than providing a calming environment and deep breathing exercises.
Another method is:

Acupressure for Pain and Headaches

There’s not too much science that supports the use of reflexology to treat headaches, and the studies we have are small and need to be expanded. However, there are a few studies that have looked into how massage therapy on the head and shoulders can relieve headaches. This sometimes involves stimulating pressure points on the head.

In one small study from 2002Trusted Source, scientists investigated how massage might help four adults that were experiencing chronic tension headaches, two to three times per week for six months.

In the study, the massages reduced the number of headaches in each subject within the first week of treatment. By the end of the treatment period, the average number of headaches each subject received fell from almost seven headaches per week to just two per week. The average length of a subject’s headache also decreased by half during the treatment period from an average of eight hours to an average of four.

In a much older but slightly larger study, scientists looked at how 10 intense one-hour massage treatments spread over two weeks might affect 21 women experiencing chronic headaches. As in the smaller study, subjects in this study received massages from certified massage practitioners. The effects of the massages were then studied on a more long-term time frame.

Researchers in this study found that those 10 intense massage sessions led to a reduced occurrence, duration, and intensity of headaches.

Do you have migraines, too? There have also been studies on stimulating pressure points for migraine relief, as well

Acupressure is an ancient healing art that’s based on the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture. With acupressure, the pressure is applied to specific places on your body. These places are called acupoints. Pressing these points can help release muscle tension and promote blood circulation. It can also relieve many common side effects of chemotherapy.
You can do acupressure at home by using your fingers to apply pressure to different acupoints. Watch the video or follow the steps below to learn how to perform acupressure to reduce pain and headaches.

Pressure Point LI-4 (Hegu)

Figure 1. Finding the space between your left thumb and index finger. Massage for headaches and migraines
Figure 1. Finding the space between your
left thumb and index finger.
Pressure point LI-4, also called Hegu, is located between the base of your thumb and index finger. Doing acupressure on this point to relieve pain and headaches.
  1. Using your right thumb and index finger, find the space on your left hand between the base of your left thumb and index finger (see Figure 1).
  2. Press down on this point for 5 minutes. Use a circular motion. Be firm, but don’t press so hard that it hurts.
  3. Repeat the process on your right hand.
You can perform acupressure several times a day, or as often as needed for your symptoms to go away.

What is a Migraine?

‘Migraine’ comes from the ancient Greek word “hemicrania” which means “half-head”. Approximately 50 million people in the U.S. suffer. Cause of migraines is not known, why some people get them/some do not. People over 45 who develop migraine headaches with an aura have a six-fold increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack. A migraine stroke occurs when the spasm of the artery feeding the visual fields on one side of the brain is very intense. Women are most affected (3:1 vs.men) most commonly with premenstrual cycle. Approximately 70% of all women who get migraines can predict the onset of a headache around their cycle. Hormonal fluctuations (estrogen) With menopause, fluctuations stop causing a 65-70% less frequency of headaches 30-45-year-olds to have more migraines than any other age groups. 70-80% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines, why is not known. 17% of children are affected by severe and recurrent headaches in the U.S. Migraine medication is not recommended until more data shows that drugs can help. Avoid the triggers.
Research on massage therapy for migraine
There is limited research on massage and migraine. However, a few small studies provide promising information.
One small 2006 study of 47 migraine sufferers randomly assigned participants to receive massage therapy or to a control group. All trial participants completed daily assessments of their sleep activity and migraine attacks. Those who had massages had fewer migraines and slept better during the weeks they had massages and in the three weeks following massages. On average, the massage group had a 34% reduction in migraines during the weeks they received massage therapy and a 30% reduction in the follow-up period, compared to reductions of 7% and 2% in the control group.1
In a study that retrospectively looked at the triggers and relieving factors among people with migraine versus people with tension headaches, massage was used by significantly more people with migraine as a technique to relieve symptoms.3
Another small randomized study evaluated 26 people with migraine. Half of the participants received massage therapy, focusing on the neck. Those who received massage therapy had significantly less migraine pain compared to the control group. From the first massage to the last, the massage group reported a 71% reduction in pain intensity.
When a migraine hits, all you want to do is to get rid of it—ASAP. The painful throbbing on one or both sides of the head, sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting are enough to make you want to curl up into a ball and wish the tension would just go away.
Sara Crystal, MD, a neurologist, headache specialist, and medical advisor says, the most common migraine triggers are stress, changes in a sleep cycle, hormonal imbalances, and caffeine overuse. Eating chocolate, aged cheese, and foods with MSG, nitrates, and additives could also cause a migraine. But people develop migraines for a variety of reasons.

“The causes of migraines are largely genetic. Each person has a personal trigger. That is why there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for migraines,” she says.

While there isn’t a silver bullet, doctors recommend over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, or natural remedies for migraine treatment. And one of those natural remedies involves doing a migraine massage with peppermint essential oil. Dr. Crystal says menthol, which is the active ingredient in peppermint essential oil, has been proven to help relieve headaches. In fact, a 2015 study from Frontiers in Neurology suggests that topically applying a menthol-based gel, such as those with peppermint essential oil, could significantly reduce headache intensity. Here’s how to give yourself a migraine massage:

  1. Dilute a few drops of the peppermint essential oil into another oil carrier, like coconut oil.
  2. Massage the oil into the temples and forehead, working in circular motions with the index and middle fingers.
  3. Continue for a minute.
If the massage is too painful, Dr. Crystal recommends adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil on a tissue and breathing deeply into it, or dabbing some of the oil onto a cold compress and applying it to your forehead. Dr. Crystal also likes using a roll-on stick, like Migrastil Migraine Stick or Health From The Sun’s MigraSoothe Roll-On, for easy application.
Did you know that an estimated 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches? Chronic headaches are one of the most common complaints made to healthcare practitioners every year. These headache sufferers are looking for some answers and treatment. Headaches are most often treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications. These treatments are highly effective but can be a temporary solution for a chronic problem. Massage therapy has shown to be effective in treating migraine and tension headaches.

Tension Headaches: These types of headaches can be caused by muscle spasms, trigger points, TMJ dysfunction, neck alignment, stress, hormonal/chemical changes, dehydration, and stress/anxiety. Tension headaches can show up as tightness or constricting feeling in the head, as pain in the head or referred pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms, as muscle spasms/pain, as pain in the jaw, or as pain around the temple and behind the eyes. Tension headaches usually do not come with other sensitivities, such as sensitivity to light and sound or nausea.

Migraines:These types of headaches are still somewhat mysterious. They are believed to be caused by neck alignment, chemical/hormonal changes, neurological problems, vascular problems, environmental irritants, food sensitivities, and/or blood sugar regulation. Migraines can be very severe and can last up to several days. These headaches do usually come with some sensitivities, such as sensitivity to light, sound, and nausea/vomiting.

Both tension headaches and migraines have been effectively treated by massage therapy. Not only can massage help relieve headache pain, but it can also help to prevent headaches from occurring. Massage is helpful for many reasons:
  • Massage promotes circulation: Massage can increase blood flow in areas that might be ischemic (lacking blood flow) and therefore help relieve pain.
  • Massage decreases pain from Trigger Points: Trigger Points are areas of hyper-irritable tissue that are very tender and also can refer pain to other areas of the body. Trigger Point Therapy or Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) can help decrease the pain and referrals into the neck and head.
  • Massage relieves muscle spasms/tension: Massage can help loosen chronically tight muscles and taught bands of tissue. This helps with muscle balance and neck alignment. Also, loosening the muscles that attach to the base of the skull (sub-occipitals) can relieve the tension headaches that travel up the back of the head and into the eye and the ‘vice-like’ constricting headaches so many people suffer from.
  • Massage helps regulate certain hormones: Massage therapy has shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. Massage therapy also increases endorphins and stimulates the Para-Sympathetic Nervous system, therefore promoting relaxation. Because of this hormone effect, massage therapy can improve the quality of your sleep. It is a happy little cycle: decrease stress = better sleep = fewer headaches = decrease stress =……and so on and so forth.
  • Migraines: The research is unclear exactly why massage therapy helps those who suffer migraine headaches. However, in multiple studies, massage therapy was shown to decrease the frequency and the duration of migraines.
One of the most exciting things about this research is that there is finally a non-pharmacological treatment for headaches. Massage therapy can be a treatment that is safe and effective–not just a cover-up. However, I must say that there are MANY potential causes of headaches, and some are a lot more serious than others. If you do suffer from chronic headaches, you want to check with your doctor first to make sure you do not need additional treatment. Once you get the okay from your doctor, provide as much information about your headaches as you can to your massage therapist, and he or she can help develop a protocol that is right for you.

What is Deep Tissue Massage and what to expect?

Deep tissue massage is a massage that is designed to get into the connective tissue of the body, rather than just the surface muscles. As a massage therapist when I perform deep tissue I use a variety of techniques to deeply penetrate the muscles and fascia, loosening them and releasing tension. Most clients have a more intense experience with a deep tissue massage, but also feel that it is more beneficial because it addresses deep-seated muscle pains. Deep tissue is beneficial when undertaken on a regular basis so that I can work together with the client to correct long term problems, relax the body, and prevent injury.

To get a truly good deep tissue massage you need to find someone who specializes in deep tissue, like Nicola.  Most spas have several massage therapists who can offer a basic deep tissue massage integrating a number of techniques and styles customized for your body for maximum impact. Experiment by trying several deep tissue massage therapists to find the one that is the right fit for you and your body.

One of the defining differences between deep tissue and regular massage is the use of tools. A standard massage usually only involves the hands and lower arms of the therapist. During a deep tissue, however,  I use elbows and fingers for deep, penetrating work in the muscle. A deep tissue massage also tends to be very slow, and I will use long, flowing strokes to ease in and out of the muscle. Going in too quickly can cause the muscle to tense up, which is not the desired reaction. I also maintain firm pressure at trouble spots for several minutes to achieve muscle release before moving on to the next area of the body.

Deep tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity, such as athletes, and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is also not uncommon for receivers of Deep Tissue Massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly. What one calls deep tissue another will call light. When receiving deep tissue work it is important to communicate what you are feeling.

When you go to get a deep tissue massage, you should talk with the therapist about any issues you might have and like to see addressed during your massage. I am happy to concentrate on a single body part for an entire massage to achieve lasting results and in fact, half of my clients want just that! It is also important to communicate with me about pain; The massage may be intense, but if a client starts to feel pain, he or she should communicate that immediately. I work on a scale of 1 – 10, where 7 is on your comfortability edge for that day and 10 is very uncomfortable pain. A lot of my clients take the deep tissue pain or even like the pain in order to get the quickest results for their body type.  At the end of the session, lots of water should be consumed to help the body express the toxins released during the massage. You will probably be sore for a few days after the intense deep tissue treatment but that’s normal. Remember that ice is your friend.

 

Pro Massage by Nicola, LMT Specializing in Sports Injuries, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca.
Pro Massage by Nicola, LMT Specializing in Sports Injuries, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca.

 

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.

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