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Chronic Vs. Acute Pain - And How Massage Helps

Pain is typically the key prompt that leads most people toward receiving treatments like massage therapy and others, and one of the key roles of any great massage therapist is pain assessment. When assessing the kind of pain a given patient is dealing with, one of the first things a therapist will be looking at is whether the pain is chronic or acute in nature.

At Body Balance Massage and Float, we're here to provide caring massage therapy services for Lehi and Orem clients dealing with either of these forms of pain, with techniques ranging from deep tissue massage to sports massage, Swedish massage and many others. Let's go over the differences between chronic and acute pain, some of the ways a massage therapist will go about determining which is the primary cause of your pain, and the kinds of techniques often used for each of these types.

chronic acute pain massage

Defining Chronic and Acute Pain

For those who are not familiar with the terminology, chronic pain is any discomfort that lasts for more than six months. It can be caused by a wide range of things like muscle spasms, arthritis, fibromyalgia and others.

Acute pain, on the other hand, occurs suddenly and is typically either from an injury or illness. It may come and go, but is usually short-term. Now, some people experience similar forms of acute pain on a regular basis - does this count as chronic pain? The answer is generally no, as long as the intervals between these bouts of acute pain are greater than six months.

Why Defining the Pain Matters

Some may also be wondering why it matters to distinguish between chronic and acute pain. After all, the end goal is always going to be providing relief from whatever kind of discomfort the patient is dealing with.

The answer is that some massage therapy techniques may only be used for certain types of pain, or may provide more effective results against one type than another. In addition, certain massage techniques may be contraindicated (i.e. not recommended) depending on the cause of the pain, so it’s important to determine which type is present before beginning treatment.

How A Massage Therapist Will Diagnose Pain

When you come in for a massage session at Body Balance Massage and Float, one of the first things our massage therapists will do is to ask you questions about your pain. This can include asking when it started, how long it has been present, what makes the discomfort worse or better and so on.

Once we have a good idea of the cause and duration of your pain, this can help us decide whether we’re dealing with chronic or acute pain, and which massage therapy techniques are best suited to the situation.

Massage Therapy Techniques Often Used for Acute Pain

There are a few techniques and approaches that typically work well for acute pain, including:

  • Swedish massage: This is the most common massage therapy technique, and it involves gliding, kneading and tapping motions to help relax tense muscles. It may also include the use of essential oils to help reduce inflammation.
  • Deep tissue massage: For those looking to relieve discomfort from an injury, deep tissue massage can be very effective. The therapist will use slow, firm strokes to get deeper into the muscle tissue and help with both pain relief and increased mobility.

In most cases, massage duration for acute pain will be on the shorter end of things. This is because the goal is to provide relief as quickly as possible, rather than working on long-term pain management.

Massage Therapy Techniques Often Used for Chronic Pain

When it comes to chronic pain, some of the techniques used may be a little different than those used for acute pain. Some examples include:

  • Trigger point therapy: This involves targeting specific areas of the body where there is tension and tightness, then applying pressure or vibration to release the discomfort.
  • Myofascial release: This technique can help relieve pain and stiffness in chronically tense tissues by increasing circulation and releasing adhesions between muscle fibers.
  • Sports massage: As you might expect from its name, this type of massage is designed to help athletes and active individuals manage their chronic pain. It involves deep strokes and stretching, as well as targeted work on specific muscle groups.

When it comes to dealing with chronic pain, the duration of massage sessions may be a bit longer than for acute pain. This allows the therapist to provide more in-depth treatment and really dig into long-term issues.

Within the realm of chronic pain, it's important to know that massage therapy might not be the only approach recommended by your therapist. Other areas like lifestyle, diet, and exercise might need to be addressed in order to provide a more holistic approach to pain management.

By assessing the nature of your pain, massage therapists like those at Body Balance Massage and Float can help you choose the best techniques for providing relief. Whether it is acute or chronic, our team is here to help diagnose and treat your discomfort. Contact us today to learn more about our services for clients around Lehi, Orem and other parts of Utah.

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