Health 5Massage therapy refers to a number of massage techniques meant to improve function(s) within the body. According to Amy’s Skin Care (click here), massage was once seen by many people as a way to unwind in upscale luxury spas and health clubs, but today it is offered in a number of healthcare settings and even by some business. It also has a number of benefits that go far beyond just a means to relax, as well, although it is certainly still used for that purpose. Here are just a few of massage therapy’s many benefits.

Back Pain Relief

Several studies have shown that massage therapy is effective in treating back pain. According to one 2003 study, massage therapy proved to be more effective than both acupuncture and spinal manipulation in treating chronic lower back pain, even reducing the need for painkillers by 36 percent.

Headache Relief

Massage therapy has also proven to be effective in treating headaches, and it could even provide some measure of relief to those who suffer from migraines. Migraines are notoriously difficult to treat through traditional medicine, yet several studies have shown that regular massage therapy sessions can reduce the number of migraine headaches patients experience.

Osteoarthritis

Swedish massage – a form of gentle massage that utilizes long strokes and circular kneading movements – is often used to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that osteoarthritis sufferers who receive a one-hour Swedish massage one to two times a week have improvements in pain and flexibility.

Palliative Cancer Therapy

According to Amy’s Skin Care (www.amyshouston.com), massage is often used as a palliative therapy for those undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Many traditional cancer treatments have side effects that can be as painful and debilitating as the cancer it is intended to treat. Swelling, joint pain, nausea and depression are just a few of the things that cancer patients experience during their treatment, and they can all be relieved, to some extent, through massage. Keep in mind that massage is still a palliative therapy in this case; it is not intended to be a replacement of chemotherapy or other cancer treatments. It is only intended to relieve the symptoms of cancer and the often-harsh side effects of treatment.

Anxiety

As we said before, massage is still used as a way to help people relax, which makes massage therapy an ideal drug-free treatment for those suffering from anxiety. Massage therapy sessions have been known to relieve cortisol by as much as 50 percent. Cortisol is sometimes called “the stress hormone,” and elevated levels are associated with anxiety and stressful situations.

Depression

In addition to alleviating anxiety, massage therapy is often used as a drug-free treatment for depression. Massage increases levels of neurotransmitters in the body, which in turn has been known to help stabilize a person’s mood and relieve at least some of the symptoms of depression.

As with all medical treatments, massage therapy is not for everybody. Massage therapy is generally not appropriate for those with bleeding disorders, deep-vein thrombosis, burns, healing wounds, fractures or severe osteoporosis. In extremely rare cases, massage has been known to cause internal bleeding or nerve damage, and some people may be allergic to the oils and lotions that may be used. Ask your doctor if massage therapy is right for you.