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Massage Therapy for Pain Management

July 25, 2013 10:59 AM with Charlotte Walker

Pain can affect every aspect of your life, including your home, work and social lives. Finding a way to manage and control pain is paramount to keeping those relationships positive ones. Massage therapy can counteract many of the emotional and physical symptoms of pain for those suffering from a variety of injuries and illnesses. Charlotte Walker, Massage Therapist in NorthShore's Department of Integrative Medicine, will answer questions on the benefits of massage therapy in the management of pain, from general pain management to massage therapy as pain management during pregnancy and cancer treatment. Submit questions early.

Brenna (Moderator) - 10:42 AM:
Our online chat--Massage Therapy for Pain Management--will begin at 11 AM. You can submit questions now or anytime during the chat.

  Pat (Des Plaines, Il) - 11:00 AM:
Can massage therapy work for lumbar stenosis pain?
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
Yes, it can help alleviate some of the muscle and tendon discomfort and stiffness associated with stenosis. It is often used in conjunction with a more comprehensive treatment plan which can include physical therapy and stretches. Of course, always check with your physician before beginning any course of treatment.

  Caryn (60089) - 11:04 AM:
How do you get insurance to cover this and what are the best type of facilities to get this done at?
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
It depends on your insurance company. It is always best to call and ask your representative if massage therapy is covered. Sometimes if your primary care physician recommends it, it may be reimbursed to you in part or wholly. Some patients use their flexible health spending accounts for treatments. Always go to a licenced massage therapist (LMT) Hospitals and medical facilities tend to require the hightest level of training for their massage therapists and they require them to be licensed. You can look up a license with first and last name of provider on the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations website.

  pat gardner (roundlakepark ill) - 11:10 AM:
I have cronic back an neck injuries. I cant find a massage therapist where I live. can I just go get a normal massage
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
That may be best answered by your physician. Since I don't know the extent of your injuries, I can't make that determination. A licensed massage therapist should be able to work with you and your physician to come up with a plan of care.

  Nikki (Chicgo) - 11:16 AM:
What can massage therapy do for a cancer patient? What are the benefits?
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
Some benefits for patients with cancer can include decreased stress, anxiety, depression pain and fatigue. There are some small studies that show an increase in T cell activity following a massage. My patients have reported a feeling of well-being and a sense of control by doing something positive for themselves during treatment. Often, patients with cancer are getting poked and prodded and are not receiving positive touch. It can be very powerful to do relaxation breathing and get gentle, caring touch during such a stressful time.

Brenna (Moderator) - 11:20 AM:
This is a very popular chat. We apologize if we are unable to make it to all our questions today but we will attempt to answer as many as possible during this hour.

  Andrea (Chicago, IL) - 11:23 AM:
I'm pregnant and experiencing severe sciatica. I received a pregnancy massage but it didn't help much. Are there specific areas to target to help with this condition?
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
Yes, there are specific areas to target with patients with sciatica. Without a proper workup, it is hard to say why the massage didn't help very much. Much of the time, it takes more than one session to see lasting results. A trained therapist will often work on the piriformis muscle to see if it is impingeing on the nerve or has active trigger points, often the gluteus muscles and hamstrings can be tight and the lumbar area can be worked on. Proper gentle stretching may also help. These are only a few of several areas that may need attention. It is best to go to a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage and talk with your primay care physician if the problem persists or gets worse.

  Ted (Evnaston) - 11:38 AM:
I'm undergoing chemo now for pancreatic cancer. What kind of relief have you encountered in your patients? How often do you recommend they come for maximum benefit?
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
My patients have reported feeling less anxiety, better sleep, less depression, a feeling that they are doing something positive for themselves , less numbness and tingling in hands and feet and less achiness and tension all over. Once a week during treatment is optimal , but I have some clients who are weaker or have hardship for other reasons, and I recommend once every 2 weeks.

  Anonymous - 11:44 AM:
does theraputic massage help low back pain due to a disc issue?
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
It can. It depends on the severity of the disc issue. Make sure you are under the care of a physician or chiropractor who can assess the seriousness of the disc issue. IF you get the ok, go to a licensed massage therapist who has experience with disc problems. There are many clients with disc problems who find great relief from proper massage techniques as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

  Rafaella (Evanston, IL) - 11:49 AM:
Massage for fibromyalgia? I am worried about it causing more pain.
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
I have many patients with fibromyalgia. Every patient is different and we work together to find a technique that is helpful for them. Some respond well to trigger point therapy which can be somewhat intense, while others prefer a much lighter touch and relaxation massage all over. Look for a licensed massage therapist who has had experience with fibromyalgia. Many of my patients have reported a big difference in their quality of life without so much chronic pain.

Brenna (Moderator) - 11:53 AM:
There is less than 10 minutes left in this chat. We apologize that we won't be able to get to all our questions today.

  Karen Brannon (Wilmette, il) - 11:56 AM:
Charlotte, I work at NS, every day I come home with neck pain due to stress, stethoscope, having to wear badge, Vocera, stress, dragging jetsons... Is there any way your services can be available to employees?? Thanks!!
Charlotte Walker (NorthShore)
Hi, yes, we do offer 15% discounts to employees. We have 3 massage therapists (as well as 4 acupuncturists and Chinese medical practioners) on staff at Integrative Medicine and we see clients at the Park Center in Glenview (2400 Chestnut) The phone is 847-657-3540 for appointments.

Brenna (Moderator) - 12:02 PM:
Thank you all for your participation today. Again, this was a very popular chat, so we apologize if we were unable to get to your question today. Find out more about massage therapy on our Integrative Medicine page.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.