By Suzanne Peranteau, CMT Dipl ABT(NCCAOM)
Ask a Massage Therapist
Q: What is massage therapy?
A: Massage is used for simple relaxation at spas nationwide, and gift certificates for massage therapies are a popular choice for birthdays and holidays. Massage also has therapeutic benefits for certain patients who suffer with pain and associated anxiety. It has been used for centuries in Europe and Asia for specific ailments including muscular pain, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems and sports injuries. Massage has many benefits for people with chronic pain issues. Studies show that massage is effective in helping to relieve post-surgical pain, cancer pain, fibromyalgia, and pain from repetitive stress injuries. Research studies have been conducted with pre-term infants, people with sleep disorders, and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder with good results.
Although complications are very rare, there are contraindications, so massage is not advised for everyone. Always check with your doctor before starting a new treatment.
Q: What do you do?
A: Im a Maryland state Certified Massage Therapist (C.M.T) and a Diplomate in Asian Bodywork Therapy (A.B.T) through the National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Ive been practicing full-time for about six years, and have studied massage and bodywork in Baltimore, London, and http://www.drugs.com/health-guide/ankylosing-spondylitis.html China. I continue to study every year with excellent teachers, I consider myself very fortunate to work with them.
My own clinical experience includes people suffering with migraines, premenstrual syndrome pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic range of motion difficulty, and pain resulting from sports injuries and car accidents. Therapy sessions are typically one hour, and include post-massage recommendations, such as warm baths/showers, gentle stretching, and extra fluid intake to dilute the metabolic wastes that are released during a massage therapy treatment. I use a variety of techniques, most of them taken from Eastern therapeutic bodywork such as shiatsu and tuina, which include an assessment process similar to acupuncture, where the radial pulse is taken and color, shape and coating of the tongue are examined. A series of treatments can last from a couple of weeks to six months depending on the condition. Chronic pain generally takes much longer to resolve than acute pain, and people who begin massage therapy in an advanced stage of disease are more likely to come for symptom relief rather than the elimination of pain.
Q: Have you noticed a difference in patients with chronic pain?
Yes, and I enjoy being able to help people heal themselves through massage. Ill give you two examples.
Joe has been coming into my office for about three years for massage therapy. He is 55 years old and has ankylosing spondylitis, a severe form of arthritis. His symptoms include pain and stiffness upon waking and throughout the day, as well as fatigue. Joe has been prescribed strong opiate pain killers and prefers not to use them as he feels they affect his mental clarity. Joe gets one hour of massage for his neck and back pain every other week. I use circulatory massage techniques to restore normal blood flow to his muscles, which are strained from being in one position all the time. I use acupressure on points known to relieve pain and inflammation in the back and neck. Gentle stretching exercises help improve Joe's flexibility. He is doing well, and has found good success with bodywork, regular exercise, and adhering to a starch-free diet which Joe finds helpful to reduce inflammation.
Another patient, Eric, who is now 33 years old, has been working in his father's construction company since he was 15. He has had several car, skateboard, and bicycling accidents. Eric has chronic migraines, which disrupt his sleep. Eric comes into my office for one hour once a week. I use a technique specifically for headaches, a variety of manipulations designed to release the thinner tight muscles in the head and face. I use acupressure and deep tissue techniques for his shoulders, arms, and back, which are chronically stressed from prior damage and work strain. After four weeks of massage, Eric is headache free and he finds his work and home life are much easier and treatment for Ankylosing Spondylosis more enjoyable without constant pain.
Suzanne Peranteau owns Meridian Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, which has a therapy office in Cockeysville, Maryland. She can be contacted for questions via email:firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 410-628-2068.
Suzanne Peranteau, CMT is the owner of Meridian Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork in Cockeysville, Maryland. She has contributed to articles for the Baltimore Sun and the American Pain Foundation. She practices shiatsu and massage and specializes in holistic therapy for pain and anxiety. She enjoys reading, travel, kayaking and hiking with her sons.