I hear this often as a massage therapist. Here are some things you should know about massage therapy:
- You're right, massage therapy doesn't always work. Massage addresses soft tissues in the body. If your pain is caused by a structural issue such as bones being out of alignment or a herniated disc, massage can't fit that and it may not feel as effective. You may need to see a chiropractor or a physician. Also conditions that cause pain such as fibromyalgia or chronic pain due to an old injury or surgery may respond temporarily, but will likely never go away completely.
- Some people come for massage because that 30-90 minutes on the table is the only time that they are pain free. This is in part due to what is called the gate control theory. The sensation of touch moves more quickly than the sensation of pain so touch interrupts the nerves sending the message of pain.
- Massage therapy does not always work in one session, especially if problem area is something that has developed over a number of years. I have people come who have a complaint that has developed over 15 years of repetitive movement at their job. As much as I would love to take away that pain in one 60 minute session, that is just not practical. You may have to come in once a week or once a month for awhile. After your first session you may notice improvement, but it might last only a few hours or a couple of days. This may lead you to believe that it didn't work. Then you come in for your next session and maybe the relief lasts a little longer this time. As the relief lasts longer, you can space your sessions out further and further. The goal is to stay ahead of the pain if possible. I will never tell you that you have to come back "this often", "this many times". I trust you to listen to your body and decide how often you need to come. I will help you determine what a good time frame is for you if you ask, but I will never make you feel guilty for not coming in "soon enough".
- Lastly, to go along with the above point, I firmly believe that you need to get more than one massage to determine whether massage therapy is benefiting you. One session is simply not enough to adequately gauge if massage will address your pain.