Who hasn’t longed for a soothing massage after a particularly grueling workout? Even more importantly, who hasn’t needed a therapeutic massage when living with chronic pain and having experienced its positive benefits?
A recent article in Time / Healthland reports on a study of the positive impacts of massage. And in addition to the known benefits of relaxation and stress reduction, the article states:
Massage basically has the same pain-relieving effect as drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve)…
Mainstream medicine has often dismissed massage as a bona fide therapy, but “these findings will have an impact on traditional medicine…”
Another article references the use of massage for those suffering chronic back pain (which, according to Healthland, 8 out of 10 Americans will experience at some point in their lifetimes). Citing results published last summer, based on a study of some 400 subjects:
Even though it’s common knowledge that an old-fashioned muscle-kneading is a great way to relax and reduce pain, the new findings give that notion some clinical teeth.
Is Massage Therapy Covered by Insurance?
While generalized massage is recognized to reduce stress and encourage relaxation, those of us who have suffered injuries and chronic conditions may be aware that localized massage can alleviate our pain. We’re also aware that health insurance doesn’t necessarily cover it.
Whether or not massage therapy is covered by insurance depends entirely upon the plan, if it’s associated with physical therapy or other “prescribed” services, and of course, you are still subject to co-pays (which can be costly), deductibles, and other limitations.
Some plans cover some of it; others do not. Check out your health care options if you’re insured, by looking carefully at your plan provisions. You’ll have some idea if you Google using “Is massage therapy covered by… ” and then include the name of your insurance plan.
What I found, as an example, for one of the largest health care providers?
Massage therapy is qualified when authorized by a physician confirming that massage therapy is prescribed as treatment of a specific medical condition. The physician should also include the frequency and duration…
That’s reassuring, isn’t it?
And what happens when your allotted visits run out, but the condition is chronic? What happens if your physicians change and there’s disagreement as to whether or not massage therapy is a “valid” route rather than medication, or invasive procedures? What happens if you don’t have coverage at all?
Where does that leave the chronic sufferer – cognizant that there is something simple, non-pharmacological, and non-invasive that can improve quality of life?
Frankly – it leaves the sufferer out in the cold, unless they can afford to pay for it on their own. (Been there, done that, not cheap!) Personally, I consider this one more way in which our insurance providers are short-sighted, to say the least.
He (or She) Who Helps Himself?
What if you know that deep tissue massage eases your pain but you can’t afford massage therapy? What if you know that Swedish massage techniques for your lower back are effective in helping you feel better? Might a friend or loved one learn a few basics?
And no, I don’t think we can pick up these skills as simply as that; I understand that massage therapists are professionally trained. Then again, one needs only peruse Youtube to view a variety of techniques in practice.
Frankly, I’m going to check with my doctor, then spend some time reading and viewing video clips. I plan on asking a friend to do so with me. I’m tired of heating pads and popping over-the-counter pills on the days that chronic pain gets me down.
Who doesn’t appreciate the benefits of touch viewed in a more connective context?
There’s nothing like a few endorphins engaging our attention, and elevating our sense of well-being. Perhaps if we’re truly fortunate we can encourage a significant other to take the mission of massage in a slightly different direction – integrating a therapeutic sensual massage into romantic relationship routines.
Wouldn’t this give new meaning to the significance of prelude to a kiss, especially heading into Valentine season?
What is a sensual massage, also known as an erotic massage?
If you have to pose the question, you don’t know what you’re missing – and AskMen has something to say on the subject.
How to Give a Sensual Massage
What’s involved in an erotic massage?
- You’ll need massage oil or lotion, and a towel to spread on the bed (don’t ruin the sheets!)
- Ask if she has any injuries or tender spots from chronic pain (per the discussion above)
- Begin with gentle touch (your goal is to relax and arouse your loved one, not injure!)
- Take your time and follow her lead (ask what feels good, and read her body language)
- Grow ever more daring (if appropriate to your relationship)
- Take your time (it bears repeating)
- Adore. Explore. Want more?
Touch is Essential
How easy it is to convince ourselves that we are entirely cerebral beings. How easy it is to allow chronic pain to interfere with loving. How easy it becomes to divorce ourselves from the primal pleasures of touch. Not only are gentle hands healing, they are humanizing.
Find a friend, a loved one, and information on the sort of massage that would suit your needs – especially if you have physical conditions that could be worsened by the wrong application of massage. Be sure to check with a physician or other medical professional first!
And if you’re fortunate enough to have a physician who will prescribe massage therapy for pain – with insurance to cover it – wonderful!
As for the rest of us? Maybe someday. In the meantime, after talking with our doctors, perhaps we can learn enough (with a little help from our friends) to alleviate pain in this most fundamental fashion.
- Any massage techniques you found particularly effective for specific conditions?
- Any massage oils you’d care to recommend?