Here's something I often tell newly licensed massage therapists- be humble and learn to respect the power of pain.
What do I mean by this?
Pain is one of the most powerful influences in this world. Whether physical or emotional, we go to great lengths to avoid it. Why do pharmaceutical companies rake in so much money? Because we will go bankrupt to eliminate pain.
I tell new licensees to respect pain because if they get over-confident and tell their patients that they can get rid of pain- they'll learn VERY quickly that they do not have that power.
Pain is sneaky, pain is deceptive. It hides for long periods of time and then comes back with a vengeance. It will respond to a treatment one time and then never react to it ever again. It will ebb and flow, sometimes with no distinct trigger. But- a good massage therapist learns to understand your specific pain. They determine what is causing it, where it's "roots" lie. They develop a relationship with it. Only then, can it be properly treated.
Often the root of the pain is not in the place where you feel the pain. Sciatica is a good example of this. Sciatic pain can travel all the way down the leg even into the foot, but with the root being in the low back or the glutes (or both!). Similarly, there are conditions that mimic carpal tunnel syndrome, where pain is felt in the wrist and hand, yet the true cause is in the shoulder, or even the neck. Trigger Points (aka "knots") can refer pain to strange regions that seem to have no connection to each other. In all of these cases, you can treat the spot where pain is felt for months and never get relief- because the wrong spot is being focused on.
This is why massage therapy can be so effective as a chronic pain treatment. By using a holistic approach, meaning you treat the body as a whole, massage can uncover the spots where pain is created and where it hides. Then, by treating the pain at it's source- freeing up restrictions, reducing inflammation, relaxing tense muscle tissue- long term healing can take place.
The process takes patience, it takes humility, and it takes a massage therapist who truly listens to you and your experiences. (Never settle for anything less from any of your healthcare practitioners!)
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