Massage Therapy for PTSD

Life is such a peculiar thing. We experience moments of joy, beauty, happiness, strength, sadness, pain, and fear just to name a few. We never know when our lives can change whether it be for the better or for the worse. Within that there are people who have survived some of the most traumatizing situations, some on a literal battlefield some on a very different kind of battlefield. Years ago, PTSD wasn’t recognized or really understood. People went about their days putting on a brave face while dealing with something internally on their own, because that is what they were taught to do. Showing that you were struggling was considered a sign of weakness. What we didn’t know then was that being open and honest about your struggles is the complete opposite. Being able to open up to another about an experience that you have went through, that caused you harm, pain, or fear is one of the hardest things a person can do. Opening yourself up to show your vulnerabilities and fears takes a lot of guts and shouldn’t be looked upon lightly. According to the National Center for PTSD, 7.7 million people in the United States alone suffer from PTSD, and that is just the cases that are reported. PTSD can impact one’s life causing them anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts. It’s almost like being in a jail where the worst moments of your life continue to be replayed repeatedly and you have no control over the television.  

There have been many recent studies that show how massage therapy can help those diagnosed with PTSD tremendously. The stress relieving factors involved with massage therapy can help to decrease anxiety and depression as well as helping to improve personal mood and decrease irritability. Another benefit of massage therapy when helping to treat PTSD is the reduction in physical pain, and tension. Many of those dealing with PTSD who report dissociation may experience a better sense of self. It is still very early in the studying stage due to the small sample groups involved which make it difficult to foresee the impact on a larger scale, but results so far are very promising. 

The process in which the massage therapist handles their session sometimes has the most powerful impact on one dealing with PTSD. The massage therapist not only asks consent for the therapy session but also goes into detail with their client about the specific wants and needs of the client, giving the client a deeper self-awareness and sense of control over their body than they may have had in a while. This is the part where communication is key to ensure a positive session for both the massage therapist as well as the client dealing with PTSD.  

While these benefits are wonderful, it is always important to talk to your health provider before seeking treatment. If you, or anyone you know is dealing with symptoms of PTSD it is always best to seek help. You aren’t alone, and you shouldn’t go through this alone.

How Your Lower Back Pain & Hip Pain May Be Connected

The body is intricately designed with nerve endings and connective tissues that intertwine to form a beautiful structure capable of everything from minute movements, to birthing a child, to surviving in some of the harshest conditions on earth. But with these capabilities comes vulnerability, so it’s no surprise that we experience pain from time to time at the very least. What you may not realize is that sometimes the pain you feel isn’t necessarily caused by something in the area you feel it. For example, when you have an injury to your hips or pelvis, it can often cause back pain. Due to the proximity of the complex joints of the pelvis to your spine, your body can also interpret your hip/pelvis problem as back pain and your back problem as hip/pelvic pain.  

The lumbar region of the spine (lower back) houses all of the nerves that supply feeling and motor control to the entire lower body; from the low back itself to the hips, knees, and down to the tips of your toes. While this area can sustain a lot of abuse, due to the immense amount of movement it is capable of and the stress that our daily lives can put on it, it is also the most susceptible to injury. Here’s a few reasons you may have this hip/back pain connection. 

A pinched nerve root at the lumbar spine due to a bulging or herniated disc may result in significant sharp pain along a nerve like the sciatic nerve which runs from the middle of the low back all the way down the back and side of the leg to the foot. Sometimes this pain stops at the buttock and at other times it may shoot all the way down to the toes.  

Your posture may also have an effect. This isn’t to say that you need to immediately “fix” your posture as that may not be necessary. What I’m referencing is more so when you begin to exhibit an abnormal-to-you posture, like suddenly sitting all day when you’re used to walking, or crossing your legs a lot when you haven’t before. These seemingly subtle changes may actually result in some significant shifts in the joints of the pelvis and spine, causing pain. If you haven’t had a major shift in how you sit, stand, or walk throughout your day, it may be that your posture has changed due to your pain rather than the other way around. The new posture you’ve adapted may be your body’s way of compensating for an injury or otherwise protecting itself from further damage. 

While there is much to this connection between the low back and hips, far more than I can include in this single post, just know that there is an intricate balance between the many structures of this area. Depending on the real problem, you may need massage, exercise, rest, stretching, or it may be best to see your physician. To help you determine what’s really going on and how to move forward, make an appointment and let’s figure it out together so you can get back to doing what you enjoy. 

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