How Massage Can Help With Postoperative Pain

A survey performed in 2009 showed that 48 million inpatient surgeries were performed that year. Everything from eye surgery to musculoskeletal surgeries were included. And this survey doesn’t even include the millions of outpatient surgeries that were performed. The numbers are staggering. What is even more staggering is that 80 percent of the people undergoing surgery reported that they had some form of postoperative pain. But the scariest statistic of all is that 10 to 50 percent of these patients then develop chronic pain from the surgery itself. That’s a whole lot of people who didn’t get relief from their pain, even after a surgery was performed that may have been deemed as a correction for the initial pain.

Despite the availability of pain relieving medications and injections that are frequently provided after a surgical procedure, many people still don’t get relief. There are many reasons for this. There may be limitations to how much and how frequently a person can take pain medications or even how often the doctor is allowed to prescribe it. And since pain is subjective to the person experiencing it, it can be very difficult for the doctor to determine what is or is not working for the patient. 

Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga, infrared light therapy, essential oils and massage therapy are great choices for postoperative pain. Massage therapy is one of the more frequently suggested alternative therapies doctors recommend. For good reason too. Numerous studies show how beneficial regular massage can be for people with pain.

Massage is the application of pressure to various parts of the body using the hands, elbows or fingers. When done correctly, by a licensed massage therapist, massage can be a wonderful complementary therapy to painkillers. Massage therapy removes toxins by flushing them out of the cells and improving the oxygen-rich blood that nourishes the cells. This helps decrease inflammation that is common after a surgical procedure.

Regular massage also increases the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin. When we feel better mentally, we also feel better physically.

Another way massage helps with postoperative pain is by improving sleep. When cortisol levels are too high in the body due to stress, many people have difficulty sleeping. With insomnia comes less healing of the physical body. This is not a good combination to have right after having surgery, when your body needs even more rest than usual. Getting a massage is very relaxing for most people, which helps to lower the cortisol levels in the body, allowing people to sleep more and improve their postoperative pain and healing times.

As mentioned in the beginning, a lot of people are going under the knife for a lot of reasons. And since conventional painkillers may not be effective and can also lead to addiction over time, it’s a great idea to consider adding in massage as soon as possible after a surgical procedure, especially if there is persistent pain. Our bodies can heal if they are given the right tools. And massage is one of the best tools available.

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