By Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Chiropractic massage refers to the physical manipulation of the body’s soft tissues by a qualified chiropractor or massage therapist. Professionals usually deliver this type of massage to get the body “warmed up” for the adjustment of the spine or other hard tissues, but they also can provide it during or after a chiropractic session. An increasing body of evidence suggests that chiropractic massage is an effective way of managing pain, but you should know exactly how chiropractic massage reduces discomfort before trying it.
Inhibition of Inflammatory Cytokines
Inflammatory cytokines are proteins that cause both inflammation and pain in the body. According to a study from Canada’s McMaster University, chiropractic and other forms of massage can reduce the activity of these cytokines, thereby relieving discomfort.
Production and Release of Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in a range of physiological functions and behaviors. One role it has is in the perception of pain. Serotonin also helps regulate sleep, appetite and mood. Chiropractic massage and similar soft tissue manipulation increases the production and release of this chemical. The result is a reduction in discomfort, as well as better rest, diet and emotional balance. All of these elements can contribute to faster healing.
Increased Blood Flow
Chiropractic massage stimulates blood flow in the area that the professional manipulates. The increase in blood flow helps flush away toxins while simultaneously bringing oxygen and other nutrients needed for repair. Pain goes away faster due to this accelerated healing.
Release of Muscle Tension
Muscles can demonstrate what is known as the stretch reflex. If the muscle fibers stretch too far, muscle spindles–sensory receptors in the belly of the muscle that detect changes in muscle length–send impulses directly to the spinal cord. The spinal cord then sends a response back, telling the muscle to contract. This process helps prevent injury during physical activity. Muscle injury or fatigue engages this reflex, thereby keeping the muscle tight and tense. Chiropractic massage can break down this protective mechanism, forcing the muscle to relax through either reciprocal innervation or inverse stretch reflex. Once the muscle is relaxed, problems associated with the chronic tension, such as pressure on nerves, inflammation and pain, are reduced or go away.
Chiropractic massage gets rid of the muscle tension related to aggravated nerves and inflammation, ups the production of healing serotonin, and blocks the activity of inflammatory cytokines. It also increases blood flow. These benefits, taken together, can result in a significant reduction or elimination of pain, so talk to your doctor to see if chiropractic massage might be an option in your pain management plan.
Granroth, R. (2015). When You Need a Chiropractor vs. When You Need a Massage.
Great Outdoor Pediatric Dentistry – Dover, New Hampshire Pediatric Dentistry.
Hollow Tree Dental – Colorado Springs, Colorado dentist.
Lockett Orthodontics – Colorado Springs, CO orthodontist.