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Massage benefits > Massage and Pain Control > Massage and Circulation > Aromatherapy > Reflexology > Massage techniques >  
Massage and Pain Control

Generally, massage is recognized as effective in reducing or managing pain.Massage can address the source of the pain and stop the painful nerve firing.Tissue ischemia, or reduced local circulation, results from sustained muscle contraction (spasm) and fascial restriction.This reduces the blood flow and oxygen to the tissues in the constricted area, resulting in pain.Massage can break the pain cycle and eliminate the original source of the pain by increasing blood flow to the ischemic tissue (Kisner, Colby, 1996; Juhan, 1987).This increase in circulation to the affected tissue is created by the mechanical pressure of massage techniques on the veins and lymphatics.Stimulation from the pressure may also cause reflex vasodilatation of the blood vessels, further improving circulation.Pain from muscle spasm can also be reduced through techniques, such as movement of limbs, stretching and direct compression of the tissue (Yates, 1990). Improving range of motion of affected joints and treating trigger points further break the pain cycle.

A feeling of well being, which usually accompanies massage, reduces pain perception even more.

Massage can alter the processing of pain stimuli in the central nervous system, as it helps the brain release neurochemicals (opiate like neurochemicals, such as endorphins) that are produced in response to pain in order to control it.

In summary, massage may reduce and manage pain that arises from a variety of sources, such as trauma, post-surgery, headache, fibromyalgia, arthritis and terminal illness.