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Benefits of Massage and Spa Therapies

Editorial Staff

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Specialized programs and procedures designed to relieve pain and improve musculoskeletal function are available at many of today’s top spas.

Special courses and certifications like Massage CEU Courses in pain management are available to massage therapists, and many spas employ at least one specialist in pain management. Therapies for pain relief and management include massage procedures, hydrotherapy and balneotherapy procedures, mud baths, and exercise procedures. Effective therapies and programs are available for numerous conditions, including neck pain, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, injury and trauma, fibromyalgia, and connective tissue disorders.

Studies Show Benefits

French researchers have found that balneotherapy, hydrotherapy, and spa resort treatments all offer benefits for pain relief and rehabilitation. Tamas Bender, a physician specializing in pain relief, reports that with difficulties in finding effective analgesics, there’s a move toward using older therapies such as balneotherapy.

Hydrotherapy procedures involve the use of plain water whereas balneotherapy procedures use natural thermal mineral water. Spa therapies use a combination of hydrotherapy and balneotherapy procedures, and they provide a holistic atmosphere as well as guidance by trained therapists. Historically, Hippocrates, Galen, and Celsus all prescribed water therapies for a variety of different conditions including arthritic conditions, injuries, and back pain. It’s long been known that exercises performed in water are easier and help improve functional problems although maneuvers such as walking are more difficult in water.

Researchers worldwide including physicians at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) have conducted studies to assess the effects of spa therapies on pain relief. These studies show that massage is better than cold packs for treating post-traumatic headaches, and muscle-specific massage therapy helps reduce tension headaches. Massage has also been found to reduce pain and anxiety in cancer patients and hydrotherapy has been shown to facilitate improvement after heart attacks, knee surgery, and hip surgery.

Since 2000, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has approved massage as a successful therapy for pain management. The use of pain medications has also found to be lower in hospitalized patients who receive massage therapy. This is attributed to both the physiological changes associated with massage and the value of therapeutic touch.

Physiological Changes

Water immersion is reported to induce an increase in met-enkephalin levels, which are known to reduce inflammation and help the body heal itself. In balneotherapy and with the use of mud baths, minerals such as sulfur are absorbed through the skin and cause an analgesic affect. After 2 hours bathing in mineral water, levels of beta-endorphin also rise, helping to restore homeostasis and improve immune system functioning.

European Wellness Centers

At European spas and wellness hotels, it’s not unusual for patients to attend 2-3 week sessions or health holidays. Here, hydrotherapy, balneotherapy, massage, mud baths, electrotherapy and exercise are important components of an intensive program. After participating in therapeutic programs, some patients report seeing improvement for as long as 9 months. In Europe, most of these programs are covered by insurance.

American Spas

Many North American spas offer pain relief and pain management programs. Some of these programs are covered by insurance. It’s important to check with one’s insurance provider before scheduling procedures to find out what procedures are covered and at what, if any, specific locations. Two popular pain relief centers include the following.

In Austin Texas, Myo Massage offers a therapeutic specialty menu with procedures designed to address the root causes of pain, musculoskeletal tension, and dysfunction. Prospective clients can schedule a free consultation to see what sort of procedures would best help their particular problem.

The Pure Wellness Spa with locations in Charlotte, North Carolina and Rock Hill, South Carolina offers an Interventional Pain Management Program under the direction of physicians. Both conventional medical treatments such as nerve blocks are used along with acupuncture, massage and holistic therapies.

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