A lot of people who don't have persistent pain don’t realise how much chronic pain sucks. Ongoing pain isn’t just about physical discomfort – it also affects your mental wellbeing, your social life and your long-term health. This is why I have such a strong focus on chronic pain management as a myotherapist.
But what can myotherapy do to help with chronic pain? I’m glad you asked! One of the things I love about myo is that it has so many tools, so there is always one that can suit your needs and tolerance. Here are the main ways I use myotherapy techniques to help you manage chronic pain.
It helps to manage acute flare-ups
When you have chronic pain, it’s common to have a flare-up of symptoms and/or pain levels. Sometimes it can be your nervous system increasing your sensitivity, and sometimes it’s a physical factor such as tight muscles that cause issues.
Either way, different techniques such as taping, massage and mobilisation can relieve the flare.
It can down-regulate the pain response
One of the main problems with chronic pain is that the body becomes more sensitive to pain messages sent by the nervous system. Sometimes the number of connections along nerves can be altered. Other times, there is a greater release of neurotransmitters, which makes the body super-sensitive to sensation.
I cover this a bit more in my pain matrix article, but non-painful sensations can block the danger messages. This means that pressure from a gentle massage or myofascial release stretching can help to reduce pain.
It can look at the root causes behind chronic pain
There are so many factors that can lead to chronic pain, and even more that can aggravate it. But as a myotherapist that focuses on chronic pain, it’s my job to be an investigator into your pain. Your treatment plan might include exercises and stretches that aim to correct any underlying causes of pain.
We’ll also have regular discussions about the lifestyle factors that might be contributing, and ways to modify them. And if I think one of your triggers is out of my zone, I’ll refer you to a trusted practitioner who also works with chronic pain.
It can reduce stress hormones
Want to hear something cool? The relaxation after a myotherapy session isn’t all in your head. Research has found that massage can reduce cortisol, your main stress hormone, by 31%.
As a bonus, it can also boost your levels of feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. If that isn’t a good reason for regular myotherapy sessions, I don’t know what is!
It can release trigger points
Ever had a little knot feeling on a muscle, that when pressed, feels so sore but so good? That’s a trigger point. These taut bands are like a micro-spasm of a muscle (not a full muscle spasm like if your leg cramps in the night!) Trigger points can contribute to chronic pain, and they can certainly exacerbate it. Because trigger points tend to have referral patterns, they can also make you feel pain outside of the area that the actual trigger point is found.
As part of your myotherapy treatment, I can release any problematic trigger points around the area of pain. For example, if you have chronic headaches, I might look at the trigger points around your head, jaw and shoulders.
Tape can be used to stabilise joints if needed
If your chronic pain comes with any joint instability, taping is a great tool for managing it after you leave the session. By using either rigid or kinesiotape, depending on the issue, we can stabilise the problem joint or joints. That way, your painful area is supported and you’re less likely to make movements that aggravate the pain. The tape can also be used to help continuously guide and remind your joints of a better position to rest in which helps to take strain off certain areas.
Looking to manage your own chronic pain? Your no-pain, all-gain myotherapist is here to help. Head here to book your appointment today
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully. She has a special interest in chronic pain conditions, like fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, and more.