Every body has its own way of dealing with tension. My body deals with stress by causing severe muscle tension, particularly in my upper back and shoulders. For years I've tried everything I could think of to get my shoulders to relax and reduce the amount of throbbing pain between my shoulder blades.
About a year ago, my problems reached a new level. I awoke one morning with a pain in my neck/shoulder area and assumed I had slept on it wrong and that it would go away. What began as a simple pain near my neck spread to my shoulder and then into my back within a couple of days. It then began going down my arm. After a few days, it had reached my hand and my right arm ached so badly I could not hold a simple glass of water. Reaching for anything caused even more pain in the upper part of the arm. I had no idea what caused this, only that it made my life totally miserable.
I have a wonderful chiropractor that I trust and who has helped me immensely with other issues. I visited him and after a couple of treatments, I felt some relief. I stayed with this course of treatment for about 3 months and though I was much improved, I was still in a lot of pain.
Let me make clear that I did speak to my family physician about this also. She had no idea as to the cause and the only thing she could recommend was physical therapy. I kept that in mind, but decided not to go that route unless I had no choice.
The months went by and though I was so much better than at the beginning, I was far from good. I was now able hold a glass or plate, but if I turned my arm the wrong way or reached to do something as simple as hang up clothes, the pain was immense. I began to think this was going to be something I'd have for the rest of my life.
While thinking about the pain one day, I thought about a gift certificate to a spa that my husband has given me. It was good for several visits. I had been there a few times in the past for back pain, but had never gone regularly. I decided it was worth a try and made an appointment for the next day.
Not feeling very optimistic, I arrived for my massage. The spa is a lovely, peaceful place and they make you feel welcome and comfortable from the time you walk in. There is a table fountain with the peaceful sound of water trickling, which adds to the serenity of the waiting area.
Once I met my massage therapist, I explained to her what I had been dealing with. She asked lots of questions about the pain I had, how it began and exacly where I felt it the most. She paid close attention to my comments and made notes as we talked. We'd repeat this before every massage so that she knew exactly what to focus on that day.
The lights were dim in the room with relaxing music playing softly. There is a warming pad on the bed, which she removed for me because I'm so hot natured. Most people would love it.
Once on the table, she began to massage my back, feeling the specified areas for anything that seemed abnormal. I was not surprised when she mentioned large knots in specific areas that were causing me the most pain. However, as she began working on my entire back, she came across many other areas that were also affected, though I hadn't felt pain there yet. She explained how the various parts of the body affect other areas and as she worked on one spot, I could often feel something in a different area and I soon began to connect these things in my mind. I was amazed to learn that there are pressure points on the upper chest and even under the arm, which she had no problem finding on me. She'd explain how each area connected to my back or arm pain. It seemed strange to me, but I began to understand it over time. The most important thing is that it worked.
After my first visit, I was quite sore. She had given me a good workout, which I really needed and wanted. If I had preferred, I could have asked her to not use as much pressure, but I felt the more pressure, the better the results. She often asked if what she was doing was too much and I'd always tell her "no", even if it was quite painful. I had the "no pain, no gain" mentality when it came to reducing the severity of those knots.
At the beginning, I went about once a week and could feel improvement each time. I would love to have gone more often, but needed to let the pain in my muscles subside before I could go again. Each visit brought more good results. Though the pain was not gone, I was regaining the ability to use my right arm without severe pain. The pain in my lower arm and hand was now gone, but the upper arm still gave me trouble. Over the next few visits, the arm pain was reduced and I had great hope for the future. After each treatment, by the time I reached my car my body felt totally relaxed, a feeling I am not at all familiar with. By the time I got home, I was so relaxed that I'd fall asleep. It was amazing.
Though I could never be a massage therapist myself, I learned a lot from her during my visits and I developed a great amount of respect for how hard that job can be. It's one thing to give a relaxing massage to someone who just wants to pamper themselves. It's totally different to work on someone with severe problems like I had. At the end of each treatment, I always felt sorry for her because I knew how hard she had worked to make me feel better.
It took a few months, but she was able to reduce my pain immensely. It's not totally gone, but it's so much better now. Perhaps, she might have been able to get rid of it all in time, but my bank account couldn't afford for me to go forever. Unfortunately, the treatment is not covered by my insurance, though I strongly feel it should be.
My massage therapist was the one to introduce me to the "Trigger Point Pro", which I wrote a separate review on. That device has helped me tremendously in keeping the muscle pain down. It doesn't take the place of a massage, but it's definitely helpful if a massage is not an option.
If you are dealing with muscle pain or tension, consider massage. It's the best thing I've ever done for myself. I will be forever grateful to my therapist and will definitely go back.