Tag Archives: pain relief

Identifying Pain with the Comparative Pain Scale

What is pain to you? How do you experience pain? What does pain feel like? Where is your pain on a scale of 1-10. Almost every patient in the ER has been asked this, and questions like these can be very difficult for massage clients to answer during an interview.

Let’s face it, pain is subjective. Have you ever heard someone say ‘I have a high pain tolerance’? I hear it all the time in the treatment room and this can make it very difficult to gauge the client based on what level of pain they are experiencing.
Thankfully, there are pain scale’s out there to help client and therapist better communicate pain.

Some of my favorites are the funny meme pain scales with the Lego faces or the funny looking stick figures. They make me laugh, but when it comes to my client’s pain I’m not laughing and neither are they.

lego pain scale

The most effective pain scale I like to use is one an instructor in massage school gave to me, and was very useful when working with my Case Study client called the  Comparative Pain Scale. The scale is broken down so the client has context to which they can relate the experience they are having. For example: minor, moderate or severe pain if 1-10 is too broad. If numbers are easy for you then the descriptive word associated with a number is helpful ex. 3=tolerable, 6=intense or 9=unbearable. Further the scale lists descriptions you can compare you’re current experience to.

Understanding the client’s pain isn’t the only reason why therapists use a pain scale. As I was working with my case study client in research class, the number the client gave to me before and after the treatment was used as measurable data. Something that is very difficult to gather in massage therapy because so much is subjective. This information is very valuable down the road when I look back at your SOAP charts (a post about SOAP charting and why massage therapists chart will be linked here). It’s one of the ways we can track a client’s progress over time. So if I seem real pushy about where you are on the pain scale and insist a number, please remember it’s because achieving measurable results really matters to me.

The comparative pain scale is printed and laminated in my office for clients to use as a tool together in understanding pain, for specific techniques and has been proven useful in gaining results in my massage practice.

 

Alex Stenger is a licensed Massage Therapist practicing inside BalanceDiet Billings.

Websitebillingsmassage.amtamembers.com 

Contact: Office (406) 652-9142 Cell (406) 780-0535

Facebookfacebook.com/billingsmassage/

 

Benefits of Cold Stone Massage

This summer I’m offering a cold marble stone massage. This therapeutic treatment is a great way to relieve the body of discomfort associated with hot temperatures. Cold stone massage is not as common as the hot stone massage, but everyone enjoys it just the same.

Cryotherapy (cold therapy) has many physiological benefits to soft tissue, and most people don’t understand what they are. Cryotherapy is the application of cold for the first aid of trauma to the musculoskeletal system to promote healing.

What exactly happens to the tissue when ice is applied? Initially, the opposite of what happens when you apply heat. Vasoconstriction. The blood vessels and capillary beds constrict the passage way for blood to travel. Next is vasodilation or widening of the vessels. Followed again by constriction and finally numbness when the ice is then removed. The application of ice allows new blood from the heart that is nutrient and oxygen rich to rush back into the tissues to initiate the healing process. 
There are four stages of the skin’s response to cold.ince-massage

1. Cold sensation with vasoconstriction
0 to 3 minutes.
2. Mild burning, aching with vasodilation
2 to 7 minutes.
3. Stinging sensation with vasoconstriction
5 to 12 minutes.
4. Numbness  7 to 20 minutes.

Although the intention is not to achieve all four stages and numbness of the skin, the use of cold stones as a form of cryotherapy during massage can have many of the same benefits.

The benefits of cryotherapy include: decreases swelling, decreases pain, decreases bruising, decreases muscle spasm, reduces fever, increases resistance to disease, speed up recover time (sprains, strains, contusions, fractures) speeds healing of minor burns, increases removal of wastes, decreases secondary injury causes by inflammatory response.

 

Alex Stenger is a licensed Massage Therapist practicing inside BalanceDiet Billings.

Websitebillingsmassage.amtamembers.com 

Contact: Office (406) 652-9142 Cell (406) 780-0535

Facebookfacebook.com/billingsmassage/

A Year in the Books

This month marks the first successful year of my massage therapy practice. I wouldn’t be here without the wonderful support of all my clients and the people at BalanceDiet Billings.

Two weeks before I graduated from Health Works Institute I decided to no longer work at the spa in Big Sky. Working there over the past 2 years was such a wonderful time spent with the owner Jacque and all the therapists and estheticians, but there was something calling me back to Billings, MT where I am from.

When the original location in a salon fell through, I was relieved because I knew my practice wasn’t the type to be in that particular location. I had training in clinical massage therapy and the luxurious type of massage (a lot of Swedish) wasn’t what I wanted to do.  So,  I replied to a craigslist ad at BalanceDiet, a women’s weight loss facility, and after the interview I knew this is exactly where my practice could grow.

Since graduating I’ve received certification as an Integrative Reflexologist. This is something my grandmother taught herself and practiced many years of her life and I watched growing up. To now offer reflexology to clients is rewarding on so many levels. I have’t decided what continuing education I will pursue this coming year, so if you know of a modality or training you’d like to see me offer please comment below!

What I love the most about my practice over the year is the wonderful variety of people I meet and help. Their needs are all so different and I constantly reference my text books, the internet and latest massage research for new or forgotten techniques to help them with their pain.

What I like the least about my practice over the year, and a new client told me this the other day “It’s so hard to get in to see you.” Now, I understand there is a compliment below the surface of that statement, but when someone is experiencing discomfort and pain in that moment and it takes 3-4 days to get in to see me the compliment goes from sweet to salty real fast.

 

Alex Stenger is a licensed Massage Therapist practicing inside BalanceDiet Billings.

Website: billingsmassage.amtamembers.com 

Contact: Office (406) 652-9142 Cell (406) 780-0535

Facebook: facebook.com/billingsmassage/

Lower Back Pain, Repetitive Motion and Massage Therapy: A Case Study

This is a retrospective case study of a client who came in for low back pain. I prefer to present the data in a story format without the SOAP charting jargon for those of you who are not familiar with charting terms. If you would like more information on the objective findings and exact treatment please contact me.

The study is a 57 year old female who works full time at UPS in shipment/package processing. She complained of low back, upper shoulder and neck pain. She described a feeling of her breath ‘taken away’ when laying on her back.  Her job at the time was very stressful as it was the beginning of November and the busiest season for shipping.  She describes to me what her job consists of daily. Lifting boxes with both hands and twisting to the left to place them elsewhere. Over and over again.

The postural assessment revealed a short leg of about 1 inch difference.  The left side of the back was severely elevated in comparison to the right (see photo below). She also presented very limited neck, shoulder and hip ROM.

benson_1
Severe L side elevation causing low back pain and tension in the shoulders and neck.

Over the next 5 months the client received a 30 minute treatment once a week. During the first month we were able to decrease pain symptoms in the low back, shoulders and neck with Swedish Massage and Trigger Point Therapy allowing her to lie flat on her back without the sensation of not being able to breath. We then addressed the leg length discrepancy and balanced the hips with Myofascial Release. Around month 2 the short leg length began to decrease and stay consistent of 1/2 inch. The following months consisted of maintenance massage over the entire back, shoulders, neck and hips.

At month 5 we were able to increase the time between massage to 2-3 weeks. The client began yoga at home, and exercised regularly. She was no longer feeling the neck and shoulder tension, some low back pain on occasion and commented that she was finally able to enjoy the massage without the presence of therapeutic pain.

benson_2
Change in elevation treated with Swedish Massage, Trigger Point Therapy and Myofascial Release.

This case study was 100% dedicated to finding relief through massage therapy.  With patience and persistence she is now taking control of life with out the pain.

 

Alex Stenger is a licensed Massage Therapist practicing inside BalanceDiet Billings.

Website: billingsmassage.amtamembers.com 

Contact: Office (406) 652-9142 Cell (406) 780-0535

Facebook: facebook.com/billingsmassage/

Restorative Yoga @ BalanceDiet Billings

Yoga is one of my favorite complementary forms of exercise I love to suggest to massage clients. What I like most about yoga is that it offers many different styles just like massage offers different modalities. Like Swedish, Deep Tissue or Trigger Point yoga has Vinyasa, Flow or Restorative (and much more) so you’re sure to find a perfect fit for you!

Recently, BalanceDiet Billings began offering yoga videos for members to try together or alone in their fitness room through The Yoga Collective. A website with a library of yoga videos for every level of yogi to try.

I recently fell in love with restorative yoga through a client who came to me describing shoulder pain that was causing her to lose sleep and back off using weights in the upper body. She explained how she wasn’t able to do yoga either, which she was really enjoying.

After her massage treatment and some relief I offered to dig around in The Yoga Collective for some videos that don’t require your body to feel the deepest stretch with each pose. That’s when I found Gentle Yoga (20 minutes) and Relax and Restore (30 minutes) which left me feeling like I did yoga and had a massage all at the same time!

I began with GY and finished with RR yoga for a total of 50 minutes. I found I could take my time and stay longer in a certain pose if needed. The RR poses offered enough of a stretch to release muscle groups but supported my body the whole time through the use of blocks and multiple blankets. The perfect way to self massage the body!

This type of yoga is great for those who have difficulty with balance (check out Sierra’s Balance class on Tuesday), shoulder impingement, hip displacement or low weight bearing on any area of the spine. If you’re a beginner at yoga this is a great way to ease into level 1+ videos.

yogaprops
Yoga accessories: blocks, blankets, straps.

Check out BalanceDiet Billing’s Group fitness class schedule here to see the other classes they have to offer.

Please, let me know if you try out these yoga videos and what you think! Both videos have been added to favorites for quick and easy access. Stop by to see me in the massage room if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment!

Alex Stenger is a licensed Massage Therapist practicing inside BalanceDiet Billings.

Contact or booking: Office: (406) 652-9142 Cell:(406) 780-0535

Website: billingsmassage.amtamembers.com

Facebook: facebook.com/billingsmassage/