After a patient sustains major trauma due to surgery or injury, a doctor will prescribe strong pain medication. Besides medication, more and more people are turning to alternative forms of pain management, including massage. Sometimes, patients seek massage on their own, and sometimes doctors will recommend it. It’s tempting to get instant gratification when it comes to reducing pain, and understandably so. It might seem obvious to mix massage with pain medication, but for your safety, just trust me – don’t do it.
One thing that people who receive need to understand is that massage therapists are not psychics. We do not know your massage preferences or pain limits unless you tell us. Every body is different, meaning that everyone has different areas of tension, and can handle different amounts of pressure. We need you to tell us when we are working too deep, too rough, or in an area that is too damaged or painful to receive massage.
When you’re taking prescription pain medications, your ability to feel sensations is reduced. This means that the massage therapist may be working deep enough to damage nervous or muscle tissue, but you may not necessarily know this. She may also be working over a sensitive area, but since your pain perception has been altered, you have no way of knowing.
I feel the need to stress once again that massage therapists are not psychics. If we feel that something is off in your tissues, we don’t necessarily know how that translates into sensations. If you have some tension in the tissues of your body, we don’t know how that tension translates into sensation or damage. We aren’t doctors, we can’t diagnose. If something doesn’t feel right to us, we rely on your feedback to tell us that an area is or is not too painful or damaged to receive work. Communication between massage therapist and the recipient is vital.
Of course, as I’ve mentioned many times in multiple blog posts, you should always follow the advice of your primary care physician. If he prescribes pain medication, you should take it as directed. This does not mean that you can’t get a massage. If you’re taking pain medication, it is important for you to be honest with your massage therapist about this. Let her know which areas you typically cannot receive work over for whatever reason, and where your injury/surgery site is. Deep work should be avoided, which can be a bummer for some people who love getting deep tissue massages. If you absolutely do not want to receive a regular Swedish massage, it’s best that you wait until your regimen of medicine is over.