What Type of “Massage Therapy” Helps Relieve Pain?

Dear Sunshine Coast Resident,

Since commencing Physiotherapy practice in 2005 I have had success treating conditions as diverse as ankle sprain to carpal tunnel syndrome as well as the more common conditions of neck & shoulder pain & hip, knee, & lower back pain.  Clients often perceive the hands on part of my treatment as “massage therapy” & ask what type of massage I use.

To answer this question properly requires consideration of the influence of techniques I learned before I became a physiotherapist during my Ph.D., which looked at how the body adapts to stress (Gaffney et al., 2001).

During my student & professional life I suffered pain & dysfunction from long hours sitting at a computer & from very physical sports.  I saw many types of therapists including some of the best Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, & Massage Therapists in Melbourne & Brisbane.

I learned from their techniques & philosophy of practice & read every relevant book & article I could find on physical & manual therapy in university libraries.  Some of these techniques were exceptionally valuable in treating my own body.  One of them was pioneered by Canadian Physician, Dr Chan Gunn, who explained that persistent pain is often due to irritation of nerves by muscle tension (Gunn, 1996). Determining which muscles are the source of the irritation is the first step in being able to relieve such pain.  Decreasing tension in those muscles is the next step.  Chan Gunn used dry needling (with acupuncture needles) to do this.  I have found that pressure in the form of massage applied sensitively & accurately with fingers or forearms is also effective.

Chan Gunn’s approach to pain relief is supported by published clinical research including a Cochrane systematic review (Furlan et al., 2005).  It helps guide my approach to assessment & treatment.  To many clients it feels like pain relieving massage, albeit different to most types of massage they have received in the past.  If you would like a treatment, please contact me.

Kind Regards,

Ben Gaffney

References:

Furlan AD, van Tulder MW, Cherkin DC, Tsukayama H, Lao L, Koes BW, Berman BM. Acupuncture and dry-needling for low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jan 25;(1).

Gaffney BT, Hügel HM, Rich PA The effects of Eleutherococcus senticosus and Panax ginseng on steroidal hormone indices of stress and lymphocyte subset numbers in endurance athletes. Life Sci. 2001 Dec 14;70(4):431-42.

Gunn CC. The Gunn Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain: Intramuscular Stimulation for Myofascial Pain of Radiculopathic Origin Churchill Livingstone, 1996

Gunn CC, Milbrandt WE. Dry needling of muscle motor points for chronic low back pain. A randomized clinical trial with longterm follow-up. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1980;5:279-291

Gunn CC, Milbrandt WE. Tenderness at motor points: an aid in the diagnosis of pain in the shoulder referred from the cervical spine. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1977 Nov;77(3):196-12.

Gunn CC. Diagnosis of low back injury. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1980 Mar-Apr;5(2):185-92.

Gunn CC. Radiculopathic pain: diagnosis, treatment of segmental irritation or sensitization. J Musculoskelet Pain 1997; 5: 119–34.

Gunn CC. “Prespondylosis” and some pain syndromes following denervation supersensitivity. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1979 May-Jun;4(3):279.

Gunn CC. Comments on “The double blind study comparing disease to placebo”. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1978 Sep;3(3):282.

Gunn CC, Milbrandt WE. Early and subtle signs in low-back sprain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1978 Sep;3(3):267-81.

Gunn CC, Milbrandt WE. Tenderness at motor points: an aid in the diagnosis of pain in the shoulder referred from the cervical spine. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 1977 Nov;77(3):196-12.

Gunn CC, Milbrandt WE.Tenderness at motor points. A diagnostic and prognostic aid for low-back injury. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1976 Sep;58(6):815-25.

Gunn CC, Milbrandt WE. Tennis elbow and the cervical spine. Can Med Assoc J. 1976 May 8;114(9):803-9.

Gunn CC, Ditchburn FG, King MH, Renwick GJ. Acupuncture loci: a proposal for their classification according to their relationship to known neural structures. Am J Chin Med (Gard City N Y). 1976 Summer;4(2):183-95.

Gunn CC. Tinel sign in brachial plexus lesions.  Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 1980 Mar;62(2):154.

Gunn CC. Tennis elbow. The surgical treatment of lateral epicondylitis. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1980 Mar;62(2):313-4.

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