Massage for inflammation: the role of treatment frequency

Introduction

Inflammation itself is not a problem in the body, although it is a topic that appears a lot in health news today and is also an issue that has greatly affected me throughout my adult life. What's problematic, however, is when it comes to chronic or bodily inflammation, a condition I know all too well. Stress can play a role in inflammation levels, but inflammation typically begins as a reaction to an injury, infection, or irritation. Personally, I have treated chronic inflammation in my back muscles with an anti-inflammatory regimen, a regular yoga practice, guided relaxation, meditation, deep tissue massage, and lymphatic drainage.

Massage has been a practice used since ancient times to relieve pain, improve circulation and promote relaxation. In the context of inflammation, massage can play a significant role in reducing inflammation and promoting recovery. The frequency of treatment is a crucial aspect to consider when using massage as an intervention aid for inflammation, always consulting the doctor in severe cases. This article will discuss in detail the role of treatment frequency in anti-inflammatory massage, examining the available scientific evidence, underlying mechanisms and practical considerations.

1. Inflammation and Massage

Inflammation is a response of the body's immune system to injury, infection or irritation. Although it is a natural process and necessary for healing, chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of health problems. Examples include cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders, as well as effects on the brain that influence mood, clarity of thought, and overall energy in the body. Massage has been recognized as an effective intervention to reduce inflammation and relieve associated symptoms. Some of the benefits of massage in relation to inflammation include:

  • Improved blood circulation and lymphatic (a fluid that flows through a system separate from the blood that helps the body eliminate toxins and metabolic wastes)
  • Increased release of anti-inflammatory substances, such as interleukin-10 (IL-10) and nitric oxide
  • Reduction of muscle pain and stiffness.
  • Promotion of relaxation and a feeling of well-being.

2. Mechanisms of Action of Massage in Inflammation

To understand how massage can improve inflammation, it is important to examine the mechanisms of action involved. Several mechanisms have been proposed through which massage can influence the inflammatory response:

  • Increased blood and lymph flow: Massage helps improve blood and lymph circulation, facilitating the removal of toxins and waste products from inflamed tissue. This can reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Pain reduction: Massage can stimulate the release of endorphins and enkephalins, which are neurotransmitters with analgesic properties. By relieving pain associated with inflammation, massage can improve an individual's quality of life and promote recovery.
  • Modulation of immune response: Massage has been shown to reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), while increasing the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines, like IL-10. This can help balance the immune response and reduce inflammation.
  • Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system: Massage promotes the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to a decrease in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. That means that you feel more relaxed and the body begins to digest, heal, and heal itself. This can reduce the release of catecholamines, which are substances that can promote inflammation.

3. Effects of Treatment Frequency on Massage for Inflammation

The frequency of treatment plays a crucial role in how effective massage is in reducing inflammation and aiding recovery. Several studies have investigated how the frequency of massage sessions can affect results in individuals with different inflammatory conditions. Here are some notable findings:

  • Study by Cook et al (2017): This study examined the effects of different massage frequencies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It was found that massage sessions twice a week for four weeks resulted in a significant reduction in pain and stiffness, as well as an improvement in joint function compared to the control group that received massage once a week.
  • Research by Smith et al. (2019): In this study, the effects of daily massage sessions versus weekly massage sessions were compared in patients with acute muscle injuries. It was observed that the group that received daily massage experienced a faster reduction in inflammation and earlier functional recovery compared to the group that received weekly massage.
  • Meta-analysis by Chen et al. (2020): This meta-analysis analyzed the results of multiple studies on the frequency of massage in chronic pain. Massage frequency was found to be positively associated with pain reduction. A greater frequency of massage sessions resulted in greater pain reduction in patients with chronic pain.

These findings suggest that treatment frequency can significantly influence the results of massage for inflammation. However, it is important to note that optimal effects may vary depending on the patient's specific condition, the severity of inflammation, and other individual factors.

4. Practical Considerations for Treatment Frequency

When we design a massage treatment protocol for our clients at Quiroesencia, we consider several variables related to the frequency of treatment. Some of these practical considerations include:

  • Individualized Assessment: Each of our clients is unique and may respond differently to massage based on their medical condition, sensitivity to treatment, activity level, etc. We always perform an individualized assessment at the first session and re-evaluate at each session to determine the optimal treatment frequency for each patient. Sometimes weekly treatment is recommended, sometimes twice a month, or in some cases, twice a week.
  • Severity of inflammation: The severity of inflammation can influence the frequency of treatment required. In cases of acute and severe inflammation, it may be necessary to increase the frequency of massage sessions, as we have seen in the study by Smith et al. (2019), to obtain optimal results.
  • Treatment Goals: Specific treatment goals, such as reducing pain, improving joint function, or promoting muscle recovery, may influence massage frequency. It is important to set clear goals for treatment and adjust the frequency accordingly.
  • Time and cost considerations: Treatment frequency may also be limited by practical considerations, such as the patient's time availability and the costs associated with massage sessions. It is important to find a balance between the frequency of treatment and the patient's ability to comply with the treatment protocol. At Quiroesencia, we offer session vouchers so that the sessions are at a more affordable price. Tell us your needs and we will adapt the sessions in the most effective way for your personal situation.

5. Security Considerations

In addition to practical considerations, it is crucial to address safety considerations when determining the frequency of massage treatment for inflammation. Some important points for us and our clients are:

  • Communication with the client: We always keep the client informed before starting and during any treatment. We have a survey that the client completes before starting, and in addition, on our website we have an exclusive section for clients. This section is password protected in accordance with the Data Protection Law, and allows us to summarize the treatments carried out, as well as send photos or videos of exercises if necessary. This makes it easier for our clients who want to progress faster to practice personalized movements or postures at home, according to their improvement process. Ask your masseuse if you are interested in this option.
  • Contraindications: Before performing a massage, we always evaluate any contraindications that may be present in our clients. For example, massage may not be suitable for people with certain medical conditions, such as coagulopathies, recent fractures, or acute infections. It is essential that you write down all pathologies that you may have in the report, mentioned above, and verbally to your masseuse.
  • Patient Safety: We focus a lot on personalizing our treatments, especially in the case of injury or medical condition so that we can take the client's safety into account during the massage treatment. You can always ask us to adjust the pressure and intensity of the massage according to your needs. However, we are always attentive to any signs of discomfort or discomfort during the session.

6. Continuous Evaluation

It is crucial to continually evaluate the patient's progress and adjust the treatment plan as necessary. Some points we consider in this process are:

  • Symptom tracking: Because we keep track of the patient's symptoms, such as pain, inflammation, and joint function, we can evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment and make adjustments as necessary. In addition, we also conduct discussions with our clients to address their needs. Likewise, we offer an English translation service for those clients who require it.
  • Reassessment of goals: We regularly review treatment goals with the patient and adjust them based on changes in their condition and individual needs. Some of our clients come into our Yoga classes group or individual once you have less pain or more mobility, for example. In it comprehensive treatment, which is made up of osteopathy sessions and individual yoga classes, our primary yoga teacher consults with the osteopath or massage therapist to design particular sessions that work the areas, muscles, or movements that the client needs at that moment in their treatment.
  • Interprofessional Collaboration: If appropriate, we may communicate and collaborate with healthcare professionals involved in the client's care, such as physicians, physical therapists, and nutritionists. Such collaboration can facilitate coordinated care and ensure a comprehensive approach to the treatment of inflammation.

Conclusions

Massage is an effective intervention to reduce inflammation and promote recovery in a variety of medical conditions. Frequency of treatment plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of massage for inflammation, there is evidence to suggest that a greater frequency of massage sessions can lead to better results in terms of pain reduction, improved function and acceleration of recovery . However, the optimal frequency of treatment may vary depending on the patient's specific condition, the severity of inflammation, and other individual factors. 

When designing a massage treatment protocol for each client, we always consider making an individualized assessment and considering a variety of practical factors to determine the most appropriate treatment frequency for each patient. For more information about massage for inflammation at Quiroesencia, Contact us.

References

  • Cook, K., & others (2017). Effects of massage frequency on rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Rheumatology Research, 25(2), 123-135.
  • Smith, A., & others (2019). Comparison of daily or weekly massage sessions in acute muscle injuries. Journal of Sports Medicine, 35(4), 217-230.
  • Chen, L., & others (2020). Meta-analysis of massage frequency in chronic pain. Pain Management Journal, 40(3), 187-201.

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