Patients with spinal cord injuries face daily challenges, including pain, limited mobility, and stress. You probably feel as though you've sacrificed a lot, and doctors are recommending one thing after another to help with the healing process. If one of those recommendations includes massage therapy, this is one treatment you'll definitely want to indulge in. Here are five benefits you're likely to see.
Improved Function and Tone
One common trait of spinal cord injuries is the loss of muscle tone, function, and control, with an increase in spasticity.
Spasticity is what happens when your body is unable to control muscle movements. As a result, you may experience involuntary muscle contractions, muscle spasms and hyperactive reflexes, and tightening up of the muscles.
Regular massage therapy can help reduce the effects of spasticity, improving the overall function and tone of the muscles in the back and other parts of the body.
Better Range of Motion
Range of motion problems in those with spinal cord injuries can be caused by decreased blood flow, swelling, and a severed spinal cord. Pain that accompanies the injury can also inhibit the patient's ability to move freely.
In order to increase blood flow and potentially decrease swelling, massage therapy is administered to both large and small muscle groups, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and joints, thereby improving range of motion dramatically. Massage therapy can also reduce the likelihood of muscle degeneration.
Improved range of motion is especially beneficial as it gives you more control when walking or moving about in a wheelchair.
Spinal cord injuries can be painful as they heal. But even once healing has reached its peak, many patients suffer with the pain that comes from a sedentary lifestyle and decreased mobility. Lack of exercise and regular movement from pain or paralysis can cause muscles to knot up, which only exacerbates the situation, keeping the patient in a loop of pain that can seem endless.
Multiple studies have been done to show that massage therapy can be beneficial for those patients who experience pain, not just from spinal cord injuries, but also cancer and surgery. However, massaging the knots that have formed in the muscles can greatly help with pain reduction in patients with spinal injuries.
Most people are aware of how damaging poor circulation can be. You already know how it feels when your feet or legs fall asleep after a short time of sitting. Imagine how it can feel after weeks, months, or even years of being wheelchair bound.
Bad circulation can decrease range of motion, contribute to pain, and reduce your body's natural ability to heal. But it can also lead to the formation of blood clots—the most dangerous threat of all.
Massage therapy not only improves your circulation at the contact points, it can affect whole body circulation, and not just while you're being massaged. The benefits last long after your session is over.
Improved Emotional Health
It wasn't that long ago that physical and mental health were seen as two distinct entities with little to no overlap. But most professionals now know that the two are inexorably linked together. This is particularly true for those who suffer with physical ailments and injuries and may have lost hope for recovery, as depression and anxiety can lower the immune system and potentially lessen a patient's chance for recovery.
One particular study showed the effects that massage therapy can have on spinal cord injuries. Twenty participants underwent two therapy sessions per week for five weeks. At the end of the study, those participants scored lower on anxiety and depression, and they also increased their overall strength and range of motion. Additionally, the control group underwent exercise only, and while they did show improvement, it was not as significant as those who received massage therapy.
For more information about the benefits of massage therapy, contact businesses like Burgman Chiropractic Clinic PC.Share