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Can Massage Therapy Help Nerve Damage?

Massage therapy essentially consists of various combinations of movements, pressures, and vibrations applied to the soft tissues of the body. This practice has been around for centuries across all cultures of the world and has been used to treat a multitude of conditions, both mental and physical.

Some common techniques involved in massage therapy are stroking, kneading, stretching, and even using vibrative motions, all in different styles and degrees of pressure. This makes massage therapy a broad form of treatment that includes specific types of massages, i.e., deep tissue, Swedish, trigger point, etc.

Today, massage therapy is recognized worldwide as a valuable part of providing relief from pain and stress-related ailments. In the United States, it is considered and practiced as part of complementary and alternative medicine or CAM.

As part of this alternative medicine system, massage therapy helps in pain management, strengthening muscles against injuries, and even improving circulation within the body. Someone who takes massage therapy will likely experience feeling more relaxed and in an improved mental state, as current research also underscores the mental health benefits that this practice brings.

One particular injury that can also be treated in part with massage therapy is nerve damage, otherwise also known as neuropathy massage therapy. To understand how massage therapy can help with nerve damage or injuries, let us first understand what nerves are and how they operate.

What Do Nerves Do? The Basics Of Nerve Damage

There are countless nerves within a human body, and their primary role is to carry information from the brain to the muscles with regards to movement. Without nerves, it would be impossible to move your limbs or have your brain understand if you are experiencing pain somewhere in your body.

A good way of thinking about nerves is to use the example of a tree. Its branches can be understood as nerves, whereas the trunk can represent the brain and spinal cord. Nerve endings connect to other nerve cells in the body for the transmission of commands and sensations, making the human body one of the most complex living creatures in the world.

Nerve damage may occur when they are compressed, which happens when the surrounding tissues (bone, muscles, tendons) become inflamed or stiff. It may also occur in the case of a physical injury but often occurs when the connective tissues around the nerves are stressed owing to repetitive motion.

One example of a nerve injury includes carpal tunnel syndrome, in which the wrist joint is affected, and the resulting pain radiates towards the hand or the arm. People who regularly engage in some form of manual labor are most susceptible to experiencing nerve damage, such as athletes and carpenters, for example.

Types Of Nerve Injuries

It is important to note at this stage that not all kinds of nerve injuries can be treated using massage therapy, so we advise that you visit a doctor first. Should they recommend you go for massage therapy, only then is it something, you may pursue.

Generally speaking, there are three categories of nerve injuries, ranging from mild to severe.

  • Neuropraxia: In this condition, nerve transmissions become blocked. This can happen due to various reasons, such as stress or a physical injury that might fracture or dislocate a bone in the body, for example. In Neuropraxia, the nerve fibers remain intact, so depending on the severity of the damage, recovery can last anywhere between a few hours to a few months. This kind of nerve damage is considered the least severe.
  • Axonotmesis: This is on the more intense end of the spectrum of nerve damage. In this condition, nerve axons sustain damage and can become divided, which can result in loss of sensation and even motor functions. For this kind of damage, the recovery period can last up to a few years.
  • Neurotmesis: This is the most severe kind of nerve damage, and unfortunately, complete recovery may not be possible in most cases. Here, the nerve and its sheath (layer of connective tissue found in peripheral nerves) are completely severed due to injury. Some doctors suggest that if the nerve is cut instead of torn, there is hope for recovery.

Of all the conditions described above, massage therapy can perhaps only be advised in the case of Neuropraxia provided that the injury is not too severe, i.e., a broken bone. For treatment, you should consult a doctor before opting for massage therapy.

The Role Of Massage Therapy In Treating Nerve Damage

In cases of nerve damage, massage therapy can be useful to relieve symptoms and improve the overall health of a patient. If you are experiencing a tingling sensation, numbness, or pain in some areas of your body, massage therapy may be able to alleviate these symptoms.

How massage therapy works is by encouraging the production of “feel-good” hormones in your body. While getting a massage, your heartbeat will slow down, causing your mind and body to relax. As a result, you will also experience a decrease in blood pressure, stress levels, and muscle tightness.

Additionally, massage therapy will also regulate and improve circulation within your body, leaving you feeling both physically and mentally relaxed. With regular massage therapy, you may even rid yourself of muscle soreness, numbness, and any tingling sensation over time.

People who have opted for massage therapy to treat nerve damage have reported feeling better after their sessions as their symptoms reduced. Lighter and softer strokes, often used in Swedish massages, are typical what works in such cases.

When seeking massage therapy to help alleviate symptoms of nerve damage, you should ideally opt for clinically trained therapists to administer the massage as opposed to a caregiver whenever possible. This is because it takes a specialist’s training to apply the right kind of techniques and pressure to avoid making the symptoms worse.

A Word Of Caution

While there are certainly benefits to massage therapy for helping treat nerve damage, there are certain risks involved as well that you should be aware of. If you have been diagnosed with nerve damage, you should not opt for massages that typically use more pressure, i.e., deep-tissue or sports massage, for example.

Additionally, you will always fare better with a licensed professional as opposed to someone who does not have the proper certification to be administering the therapy. So be sure to do your research and consult doctors and physicians for recommendations of reliable massage therapists.

Finally, you should also be communicative with your therapist about any discomfort you may experience while receiving the massage. If you feel pain, let them know, and they will adjust the pressure they are applying to your body. This is quite important to remember and practice, for not saying anything may aggravate your ailment.

With that said, we wish to conclude on a hopeful note. According to research conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association, 87% of those interviewed suggested that they believe massage therapy has helped their health and wellbeing overall.

So, if you are looking to try out massage therapy and do not have any preexisting conditions that could be made worse, get in touch with us via our website here: Alternatively, you can also call in at 310-652-2099 to book an appointment.

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