Massage? Does it help?

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I suffer osteoarthritis and have been trying to lose weight and exercise for several years. Whenever I do the tiniest exercise I suffer so much injury time and again I even consider calling an ambulance! While watching Strictly Dancing on TV I gently stood for a few minutes and gently moved my feet and hips. It was no longer than 5 minutes a few times. On Sunday I tried to get out of bed and straighten my body but was stuck in bending position. The pain was so bad I cried. I took paracetamol and alternated resting and trying to straighten but it lasted the whole 24 hours. Today I have increased the paracetamol and am a little stiff but able to do normal things with care. Even exercising in hydrotherapy pool warmest water brings on muscle spasms . I have repeatedly discussed this problem with my GP and have also received physiotherapy but am just failing at each attempt. My natural instinct when I awoke with back pain was I needed a massage but I have been discouraged from that as medics say it will add to my pain. Throughout the deterioration of my health I have often felt I needed massage. When I was married my then husband used to massage painful muscles for me and pain would go away. Does anyone have experience of pain relief massage?

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  • Posted

    Has the physiotherapist done more for you than provide exercises? Mine discovered how tight the muscles in my back were - something I was unaware of. She did something called dry needling, which "resets" the electrical system in the muscles. This can also be done with a certain kind of massage. I found other aches and pains I'd had, referred pain from my spine to other parts of the body, like hips, have definitely cleared up. I went to see the physiotherapist for an unrelated problem (polymyalgia rheumatica) but this additional technique was very helpful for other pains I'd attributed to osteoarthritis.

    Physio exercises usually start out by being so easy you think they can't be doing any good, but your strength can build up very quickly if you do them as prescribed.

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  • Posted

    Yes, yes, yes!!!

    All of the pain that I had was, by some way or other, caused by sore, tight soft tissue. The tissue was sore and tight because my brain was firing up the wrong muscles; this can happen through lack of exercise over your lifetime (some muscles weaken and get lazy faster than others) or it can happen from doing a sport or even a job where some muscles are worked more than others. For years (decades) it'll go unnoticed, but the imbalance eventually hits critical mass and that's where the pain (and the OA diagnosis) starts.

    The soreness caused by tight soft tissue, strain on ligaments and even pressure on nerves - can be treated very effectively with massage. HOWEVER, it is only symptomatic relief - the tightness and soreness will keep coming back until you've addressed the underlying imbalance.

    There are two mechanisms by which you can improve your pain levels and increase fitness/physical ability:

    1. Improve your general strength and fitness - so no fixing of the underlying imbalance, but just being fitter and stronger will make you more able to cope. You will be able to do more with less pain.

    2. Fix the imbalance.

    The former is easier than the latter. Even if you do want to address the root cause, first place to start is with 1.

    So, yes - massage can help to reduce pain and get you more mobile. That in turn will let you do more which will make you fitter and stronger and less prone to the overuse injury that causes your pain.

    When things are as bad as you describe it can be difficult, however, a DIY approach is always going to be better than paying an expert. Initially the expert might get better results, but you need do this very frequently and it's just not practical to have someone do it for you. Also, in time you really learn about your body and what works. You'll learn to pin point the exact tight spot that's causing your current pain.

    Have you heard of Myofascial Release? That's what you're looking for info on. Plenty of free info online.

    The best book I've come across is called "The Trigger Point Workbook" by Claire Davies. £15 or so on Amazon or you'll pick it up second hand for £5. I highly recommend this book as it's also very educational - easy reading though.

    Good luck! Physios and doctors aren't really trained in these self help methods so don't be put off by others. Try it and see for yourself if the results are worth the effort!

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  • Posted

    Have you been tested for Rheumatoid arthritis? Have you had an MRI on your spine? I went for a massage once and ended up with a herniated disc. I don't let anyone touch me.

    I feel like you need to see someone other then your Primary Doctor. Maybe an experienced pain Doctor and/or a Arthritis doctor for sure. I have been to both. I saw pain doctor and she sent me to the surgeon. I need fusion. Surgery is tomorrow.

    Good luck to you.

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