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UK HealthCare expert discusses what you should know about massage therapy

Massage therapy
Blog

/ by UK HealthCare

September is Pain Awareness Month.

Established in 2001 by the American Chronic Pain Association, the goal of Pain Awareness Month is to foster widespread understanding of chronic pain in an effort to reduce the stigma attached to the condition and aid the effort to effectively treat it.

We recently spoke with Jill Cole, MA, LMT, BCTMB, massage therapy coordinator with UK HealthCare Integrative Medicine and Health, about massage therapy and how it can help with pain management.

Jill Cole has worked in massage therapy as a clinician, educator, presenter and researcher since graduating from the Boulder College of Massage Therapy in Colorado in 1998. She currently sits on the National Board of Directors for the Society for Oncology Massage.

What are the major benefits of massage therapy?

Massage therapy has widely been thought of as an intervention for stress, pain and anxiety. Additional benefits of massage therapy have been evident in inpatient, medical short stay, and infusion.

Massage therapy has been shown to decrease pain, anxiety and distress, and aid with sleep. At UK Healthcare, our experts are trained to provide massage therapy in the clinical setting and can meet the patient, caregiver, staff member or family member where they are. The versatility of massage is that we can provide therapeutic treatments in a variety of settings. The less ambulatory a patient is, we can come to them; the more ambulatory a patient is, they can come to us.

As an adjunct therapy to regular medical care, massage therapy can provide comfort care, deeper relaxation and parasympathetic nervous system engagement and help facilitate positive connections of mind, body, spirit, and an increased sense of health and wellness overall.

If someone who's never had massage therapy is considering it, what should they know about the practice?

For a potential new client to massage therapy, it is important to seek out a massage therapist who has graduated from an accredited massage program (at least 600 hours of training), is licensed by the state board of massage therapy (which includes passing the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam), and has advanced training in treating chronic pain conditions and medically complex individuals.

What conditions, chronic or otherwise, can be treated most effectively with massage therapy?

Conditions that can be treated most effectively with massage therapy include back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, hospice, anxiety and stress, depression, PTSD, substance use disorder recovery, performance training/ injury treatment, ergonomics and job-related injuries, cardiac rehab, joint replacement surgery, scar management, cancer management, post-operative pain, lifestyle diseases, maternity and newborn care.

How can massage therapy help with pain management?

As a non-pharmacological approach to pain, massage therapy can help patients dealing with chronic conditions reach a healthy level of function and quality. Regular sessions of massage, with targeted treatment plans, can yield positive results and reduce suffering. As a cost-reducing approach to the opioid crisis, massage therapy can potentially reduce the strain on resources for health care systems, provide a viable tool for pain relief and increased quality of life, and also positively impact the daily lives of those living with chronic pain.

What massage therapy services does UK HealthCare offer?

UK Healthcare Integrative Medicine and Health (IMH) has a staff of seven highly qualified, versatile, licensed massage therapists who treat patients, staff and caregivers.

We have a diverse, talented team of professionals that provide professional massage therapy at the bedside, in infusion and in our calming and restorative outpatient clinic, located at the Markey Cancer Center in the Whitney-Hendrickson Building (3rd Floor, Suite 306).

UK HealthCare IMH offers oncology, relaxation, prenatal and therapeutic massage. Sessions last 30, 60 or 90 minutes.

Is there anything else you'd like people to know about massage therapy?

Massage therapy can be a transformative tool for healthcare and well-being. By using the healing power of touch, education and research, patients have the ability to receive the tools necessary to function better, decrease pain, decrease pharmacological dependency to pain management, increase quality of life, movement, and daily living activities. Gains of behavioral health, rehabilitation care and acute medical treatment are also evident with the application of massage.

Massage is safe, cost-effective, and worth the time carved out for both self-care and overall healthcare.

To schedule a UK HealthCare massage therapy appointment or for more information, call 859-323-4325. Visit ukhealthcare.uky.edu/integrative-medicine-health for more information.

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