My favourite method of treating is becoming the combination massage & acupuncture session. From what I have seen, it gives a better chance of success for relieving chronic or acute pain and also gives a more pain free, comfortable release compared to massage therapy alone.
In a typical combination Acupuncture & Massage session, I do a half hour acupuncture treatment followed by a half hour massage. There are some real benefits to this such as:
- An Easier, Gentler Treatment Experience. This sounds counter-intuitive. How can poking somebody with needles be gentler than massaging? I start with acupuncture because it does a great job of setting the tone for the treatment. The acupuncture treatment triggers a chain reaction that releases endorphins, analgesics and anti inflammatories into the problem areas. After the needles are out, typically the client is more relaxed, the pain is lessened, the inflammation is reduced and the muscles have decreased spasm. At this point, the client will not feel as much pain and discomfort from the massage. After the needles have done the bulk of the work lessening the acuteness of the pain, the massage can be gentler focusing on flushing out toxins and stretching the muscles back to their normal length.
- The client benefits from each technique’s unique strengths. There is no one approach or technique that does all for all people. Massage is excellent for increasing circulation to an area. Stretching techniques are great for returning short muscles back to their normal length. Fascial techniques are perfect for getting rid of fascial restrictions or scar tissue. Reflexive neurological techniques are wonderful for releasing stubborn muscle spasms. And acupuncture is great at reducing inflammation, speeding up the healing process, decreasing pain and working deep muscles that are difficult to access. Through a combined approach, the client has the best chance of achieving health.
- Acupuncture decreases inflammation. When a client is in acute pain there is usually some inflammation in the area. The inflammatory response releases neuro transmitter chemicals which heighten any pain response. This means that the painful area can be tricked into feeling extreme pain from even a light touch, which makes it difficult with massage to get at the root of the problem until later treatments. Acupuncture, on the other hand, goes deep directly to the problem area and starts reducing the inflammation right away allowing the massage treatment more freedom in targeting the problem areas.
- The combination approach allows me the freedom to give the most effective treatment that I can. I have found a few different approaches that are absolutely ideal for treating certain conditions. For example, in acute pain between shoulder blades caused by rhomboid muscle spasm, a 3 minute application of reflexive stretching techniques can resolve most of the acute pain almost immediately. Likewise, directed acupuncture techniques can often cause an immediate decrease in acute pain in certain types of SI joint dysfunction.
- Acupuncture can induce profound relaxation and stress relief. I have found that more people fall asleep on my table during acupuncture sessions vs massage sessions. Acupuncture initiates a strong release of endorphins in most people causing deep relaxation and stess relief. There are specific points I can target for stress relief sessions that bring about a very peaceful feeling and sets the stage perfectly for the massage session.
- Affordable. The price of a 1 hour treatment of combined acupuncture & massage is $80 including GST. The average for Toronto for those services separately is around $110. As an RMT, I can bill any modality or treatment that falls under my scope of practice as “massage”. Typically I bill combination treatments as massage therapy, which can be helpful for people that have extended health benefits for massage but not acupupuncture. This practise is endorsed by the CMTO and insurance companies.