Orthopedic Massage Therapy: Solving Issues You Didn't Know Massage Could Solve

In my practice, I have had the privilege of helping a lot of people with their pain. However, I still encounter people who are enthusiastic about massage therapy that do not know it can truly help them. And that's understandable. We're creatures of association and the immediate associations with massage, for many people are not that of solving a particular problem, but of a luxurious spa experience. 

I'm here to dispel the myth that massage is only superficially beneficial and also deliver some good news. Orthopedic massage therapy, when delivered by a warm and caring therapist both solves problems and is deeply relaxing. It is what I consider a win-win.

I know that there are people walking around in pain. I recently worked on someone who said their shoulder woke them up at night most nights. I've recently worked on individuals with Frozen Shoulder, Tennis Elbow, Sacroiliac Dysfunction, Shin Splints etc. Knowing that there are people walking around in pain every day is what makes me want to put on my massage superhero cape and come to the rescue. Sometimes I also want to shake people and say "I can help you! Just let me show you!". But I am opting for a gentle reminder instead. 

Orthopedic massage therapist are not doctors, nor would we presume to be one or ever risk your health and wellbeing by jumping to medical conclusions. Orthopedic massage therapy works in conjunction with your other health providers including your PCP, physical therapist, and chiropractor when applicable.

We are, however, certified to treat these conditions and more as listed on the Treatments Tab of the site. 

Massage may not be the first thing you think of when you have numbness down your arm. And you should immediately rule out nerve root damage or other causes with your PCP. But often, this is caused by the pec minor and/or scalenes muscles tightening over the brachial plexus, causing numbness down the arm. Massage may not be the first thing you think of when you have plantar fascitis, but indeed plantar fascitis is caused by very constricted fascia in the foot.

Sometimes these tissues are so constricted, they need softening and manual manipulation to restore the proper balance in the tissue. Knowing this empowers you not only to know when to see an OMT, but how to tackle it on your own from home--for example using trigger point balls and rollers. 

The problem with only relying on physical therapy or your PCP in your healing process is that it is only looks at one angle of the problem. Cortisone shots have temporary effects. Physical therapy is great when you have a surgery or tear something, especially a ligament, to re-stabilize the area. Sometimes though, more exercise and muscle contraction is not what the body needs. And the only person whose well enough equipped and has the palpation skills to feel what's really happening is a certified orthopedic massage therapist or a massage therapist who has deeper specialization. 

"Can you really feel it, though?" people ask me. How do you know? There was a time when I wouldn't have. But when you spend a great portion of your life feeling muscle tissue, similar to how a person who goes blind eventually learns to navigate the world, you start to feel all the subtle details and intricacies of it. And this isn't an inaccessible concept. You can all test at home on yourself or on someone you love how things really feel when you're paying attention. Compare a left shoulder to a right. Muscle tissue feels hard, resistant, and stuck when it is. A knot feels like a lump. 

When I first place my hands on you, it is evident within seconds where the majority of tension might be. For smaller muscles, it takes me longer to evaluate as I follow their specific pathways, listening for what's going on. This is the most crucial quality in a good massage therapist-- the ability to be curious and receptive.

I met some really lovely people recently who shared their pain with me and I hope this will be helpful in learning a little bit about the options that are available to you. Massage therapy may be a solution. And sometimes it isn't and can't be the solution, but a crucial complement which addresses compensation patterns and minimizes further damage.

Don't hesitate to reach out with questions-- I'm available to help out any time, even if it's just with self care at home: razelle@satyaorthopedic.com

Wishing you a good week!

Razelle McCarrick @ Satya