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Massage| Pain| Complications

Posted Jun 11 2010 9:28pm

Who does not enjoy a relaxing massage? Massage is used in many cultures across the world in many types of painful and non-painful body conditions associated muscle tightness. It has been used in individuals with neck and low back pain, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) considers massage therapy to be a manipulative and body-based method of complementary and alternative medicine.

Massage provides relief of muscle tension through tissue mobilization that stimulates nerves and through increasing blood flow. Generally, massage is considered safe but must be applied by trained and certified practitioners.

There are many types of massage and it can be applied superficially or deep. Superficial massage consists of gentle stroking, or light circular movements. Neuromuscular massage is used for reaching deeper tissues and is not benign. Deep tissue massages can result in the individual experiencing more pain after the therapy. Exciting deep neuromuscular tissues with manual stimulation is not sufficient to depolarize the nerve and may result in more muscular tension and hence more pain. There may also be more tissue tightness due to muscle spasms induced by the massage itself especially in patients with preexistent muscle pain and tightness. The optimal way to stimulate deep neuromuscular tissues resulting in deep tissue relaxation is to apply electrical excitation at neuromuscular junctions by individuals well-trained in the eToims technique.

The complications of manual massage include increased pain and spasm, dizziness and lightheaded and fainting from stimulating the carotid sinus. Massage has also been reported as a cause of rhabdomyolysis-induced acute renal failure. It has also been reported to cause inflammatory myositis and prolonged myopathy (Tanriover MD. Guven GS. Topeli A: An unusual complication: prolonged myopathy due to an alternative medical therapy with heat and massage. Southern Medical Journal. 102(9):966-8, 2009).

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