Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Integration: An Intelligent Course of Treatment for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain
The human body is a type of ecosystem that constantly interrelates with biochemical, physical, neurological, psychological, and social functions. Some healthcare physicians wholly recognize this fact by integrating a variety of modalities in their practices. This is what we do at Wagner Chiropractic and the chiropractic–massage therapy integration is one important approach to health and wellness we find that provides life-changing results. It is actually a well established fact that integration of multiple health care modalities is enormously beneficial to patient health.
Massage therapy and chiropractic care practiced in tandem create an excellent environment for relieving pain, restoring mobility, and increasing overall health. Together they extend the health and wellness benefits of each treatment creating amplified benefits for the patient in a variety of ways.
A primary intention of massage therapy is to stimulate the nervous system to help relieve muscle tension, pain, limited mobility, certain myofascial(2) adherences, an agitated nervous system and overall stress. Massage therapists focus on relaxing hypertonic(1) muscles and calming the sympathetic nervous system. The therapist manipulates the soft tissue muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the hard tissues of spine, bones and joints to improve circulation and blood flow and warm, loosen and relax these soft tissues.
By facilitating increased circulation, the blood delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles for healthy muscle function. This promotes healing, reduces pain, and helps prevent future injuries. This process also helps muscles dispose of accumulated lactic acid which frequently causes stiffness and painful muscle spasms. The therapist chooses from a variety of techniques applying light, moderate, or a deep rhythmic hand and arm movement to help alleviate muscle pain and ache and increase flexibility.
Chiropractic focuses on the nervous system and musculoskeletal dysfunction related to hard tissues such as spine, bones and joints. It focuses on detecting and correcting spinal, soft tissue and neural dysfunction. Chiropractic helps prevent many health-compromising conditions, works to restore function and range of motion, and seeks to prevent pain from occurring or escalating.
Before we even think of a massage therapy session, the chiropractor performs an extensive orthopedic, neurological, and physical examination. We may make a medical diagnosis, take X-rays, or order other tests such as an MRI or bloodwork. The results of our complete examination indicate how our doctor will prescribe our massage therapist’s treatments for specific musculoskeletal dysfunctions including chronic pain syndromes, polymyalgias and fibromyalgia.
Receiving chiropractic care either before or after a therapeutic massage increases the effectiveness of both treatments, improving range of motion, promoting faster healing, making the benefits of both treatments more lasting and improving overall function.
Massage is effective with chiropractic when it is applied either before or after chiropractic adjustment:
When massage is applied before chiropractic care it helps to reduce hypertonicity(1) paving the way for easier and more effective spinal and extremity adjustments.
When massage is applied after chiropractic care, chiropractic releases spinal-neural problems which in turn allows the nervous system to send neural messages to the muscles that may prevent the massage from struggling against overly tight muscles. Generally, patients who receive massage after their chiropractic adjustments tend to stabilize better.
The muscles function through coordinated movement and timing orchestrated by messages received from the nervous system originating at the spinal cord. By reducing inflammation and restriction in both muscles (massage) and nervous system (chiropractic), we provide pathways for optimal function and communication throughout the entire body.
It’s easy to see why massage therapy and chiropractic work so well together. Massage therapy is the yin to the chiropractic’s yang. One places focus on the soft tissues (massage) while the other targets the hard tissues (chiropractic). This is why we notice vast improvements when our patients are treated to both massage and chiropractic—because we are taking the whole body into account and not just one aspect of it. By integrating holistic therapies like these two, we’re able to improve the health of our patients not just through the treatments we provide but by moving the body towards health and wellness and away from sickness and disease. Call us today for a complimentary consult with the doctor.
in a state of abnormally high muscle tone
myo– relating to muscle; fascia– a thin sheath of fibrous tissue enclosing
muscle or other organ.
“Integrating Massage, Chiropractic, and Acupuncture in University Clinics: A Guided Student Observation.” International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 June 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390215
Koplen, Michael. The Chiropractic Integrated Massage Practice. N.p., Masters In Massage Institute.