Postoperative recovery can be painful and take anywhere from a few days to several years. Doctors often prescribe dangerous opioids to help patients cope with pain during their recovery. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 11.4 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2016 and 2017.
With this in mind, more people than ever are turning to safer, holistic pain-relieving treatments like Massage Therapy. Here’s why:
1. To help deal with scar tissue
Invasive surgeries require one or more incisions into the skin, incisions that will often become surrounded by scar tissue during recovery. Scar tissue forms when the dermis, a deep, thick layer of skin, is irritated or damaged by an incision. This causes the body to generate collagen fibers that form scar tissue that is meant to help repair the incision.
Massage Therapy helps put pressure on scar tissue to loosen the muscles around it, reducing pain and swelling. It can also help drain excess fluids that cause swelling and help relieve numbness and soreness. You should not massage the scar tissue around your wound until it has totally healed, a good rule-of-thumb is to wait at least 2 weeks after your surgery or injury before treating your scar tissue with a massage.
2. To relieve stress
Recovering from surgery can be stressful, but did you know that stress can actually slow down postoperative recovery? Massage therapy can alleviate muscle tension caused by the stress response.
The pressure from a massage can aid in flushing out lactic acid from the body, improving circulation and stimulating the distribution of blood, that was diverted to muscles by the stress response, back to the rest of the body. It can also help relieve the psychological symptoms of stress. As Massage Therapy improves circulation, it also helps to stimulate the production of important mood-regulating hormones, like dopamine and serotonin.
3. To reduce pain
Pains are considered acute when they last from 3-6 months. Postoperative acute pains are often caused by an uncontrolled buildup of metabolic wastes around an incision. After surgery, many patients are prescribed prescription opioids to help cope with their pains. These highly-potent pain relievers are overprescribed and abused by roughly 1 in 5 patients.
About 1 in every 10 patients prescribed these drugs will ultimately develop an opioid use disorder. With this danger in mind, the prospect of relieving postoperative pains naturally has become increasingly more attractive. Massage Therapy can increase circulation to help flush metabolic wastes out of the body to relieve pain and swelling.
4. To Increase Skin Elasticity
Skin flexibility, more commonly known as tissue elasticity, essentially refers to the stretchiness of your skin. When we are young, our bodies produce large amounts of the proteins elastin and collagen to give our skin its elastic quality.
Low tissue elasticity could make your skin feel tight, restricting movement and exacerbating postoperative pain. Massage Therapy works to increase circulation and warm muscle tissues, thus improving skin elasticity. This can not only help you cope with pain but can also contribute to healthy, younger looking skin.
5. To Promote Sleep
Surgeries often throw patients’ sleep schedules completely out of whack. They might have trouble falling asleep with the initial postoperative pain, or fall asleep and wake up at inconvenient hours. Massage Therapy helps to promote a healthy sleep schedule by stimulating the production of important sleep hormones, such as serotonin, and in turn, melatonin.
Massage Therapy can also increase blood flow to sore muscles and stiff joints, relaxing them to increase flexibility and range of motion. The increased circulation enhances the flow of oxygen throughout the body to help combat pains associated with joint and muscle swelling that can keep you up at night. Additionally, massage therapy can help improve sleeping posture, lower blood pressure, and enhance the immune system.
Massage Therapy can help ease and speed up post-operative recovery. Don't want to go through the hassle of booking massage appointments? truMedic has a whole line of massage chairs and personal massagers you can use on your own. Check them out here!