Back and shoulder pain are as common as morning coffee spills—something every massage therapist encounters daily. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of these pesky pains and how massage therapy can be a game-changer.

The Weight of the World: Back Pain

Back pain is the reigning champ of common ailments. According to the American Chiropractic Association, a staggering 80% of people will experience back issues at some point in their lives. Georgetown University Health Policy Institute further highlights the impact, reporting that back pain accounts for 83 million lost workdays annually. That’s a whole lot of missed meetings and deadlines!

Shoulder Pain: The Unsung Agony

Though less prevalent than back pain, shoulder pain remains a significant player in the pain game. Population surveys indicate that shoulder pain affects 18-26% of adults at any given time. With such widespread discomfort, massage therapists have a golden opportunity to help clients find relief.back pain

Understanding the Culprits: Types and Causes of Back and Shoulder Pain

The origins of back and shoulder pain are as varied as the people experiencing them. At Excelsior Integrative, we see a myriad of causes daily. These range from sports injuries and degenerative joint diseases to the more mundane but equally impactful causes like prolonged sitting.

Breaking Down Back Pain

Understanding the different regions of the back can help us pinpoint the source of pain more effectively:

  • Lower Back (Lumbar Spine): Comprising five vertebrae, this area often bears the brunt of our activities.
  • Middle Back (Thoracic Spine): Made up of 12 vertebrae, it supports most of our body’s weight.
  • Upper Back (Cervical Spine): Includes the neck and consists of seven vertebrae.

Each region includes various structures like intervertebral discs, the spinal cord, nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, making the causes of pain as complex as a soap opera plot.

Tight rhomboids cause shoulder pain

Tight rhomboids cause shoulder pain

The Shoulder: A Complex Puzzle

The shoulder, the most flexible joint in the human body, is a marvel of complexity! Shoulder pain can result from held tension, repetitive motion, or strains due to over-extension. Overuse is a primary culprit, along with post-surgery pain, frozen shoulder, and fascial adhesions.

The Science of Relief: Massage Therapy for Pain

Back Pain: The Latest Research

Massage therapy has long been lauded for its benefits in alleviating back pain. Recent studies continue to bolster this reputation. One study explored the effects of lumbar myofascial release with electrotherapy on patients with non-specific low-back pain. The findings suggest significant improvements, indicating that reducing the elastic modulus of lumbar fascia can directly impact pain reduction.

Another study compared high-force and low-force massages on female patients with non-specific low-back pain. Results showed that deep tissue massages provided superior pain relief. This aligns with the techniques we use at Excelsior, adjusting pressure, speed, and direction based on each client’s specific needs.


Shoulder Pain: Cutting-Edge Insights

A January 2022 study examined the effectiveness of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and myofascial release on subacromial impingement syndrome. The combined techniques showed significant improvements in pain, range of motion, and muscle strength.

Another study assessed massage therapy’s impact on shoulder pain post-laparoscopic surgery. The results were promising, indicating a significant reduction in pain for those receiving massage therapy alongside pharmacological treatment.

Real-World Success Stories at Excelsior Integrative

Back Pain Victory

In January 2018, we worked with a 38-year-old client suffering from an L1 compression fracture. After a kyphoplasty and subsequent muscle spasms, we employed a gentle, collaborative approach. Today, the client manages her pain with regular massage, yoga, and Pilates.

Pregnancy Pains

We have helped many clients manage back pain during pregnancy. The hormonal changes and physical strain of pregnancy often make this a challenging time. Regular massages provide much-needed relief and improve sleep, making a significant difference in our clients’ comfort and well-being.

Shoulder Osteoarthritis: A Common Condition

Shoulder osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, affects one in three people over 60. It manifests as pain, reduced range of motion, and crepitus. Whether primary (with no known cause) or secondary (due to injury or infection), managing this condition can greatly improve a client’s quality of life.

The Excelsior Approach

With so many suffering from upper body pain, Excelsior Integrative Massage Therapy and Wellness is dedicated to providing relief and improving lives. By understanding the complexities of back and shoulder pain and staying abreast of the latest research, we offer effective, informed, and compassionate care. Let’s tackle these pains together with expertise and a touch of wit—because laughter, after all, is often the best medicine.

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