Pain management should be at the forefront of every massage therapist’s mind: It’s how you successfully treat your clients and give them the ease and comfort they need.

Treating chronic pain can be learned through a variety of techniques, and many pain-management courses are available through home-study instruction. Some of the courses offered include trigger point therapy, orthopedic massage, sports massage and myoskeletal alignment, to name a few.

The benefits of pain management include the release of chronic muscular tension and pain, improved circulation, increased joint flexibility, reduced mental fatigue, reduced stress, improved posture and reduced blood pressure.

Trigger point therapy can be used to treat headaches, stiffness in the neck, bursitis, tennis elbow, back pain, sciatica, shin splints and other injuries that occur from accidents, sports, occupations and disease.

For orthopedic massage, home-study courses include topics that cover the treatment of subscapularis tendinitis, tennis elbow, lateral ankle sprain, patella tendinitis and Achilles tendonitis. The courses also delve into teaching about massage techniques and musculoskeletal disorders, along with thermal modalities, treatment aids and the physiological effects.

Sports massage techniques can reduce the chance of injury to the client by using proper stretching, preparation and deep-tissue massage. Massage can also shorten recovery time between activities, improve athletes’ range of motion, break down scar tissue, increase blood flow and tissue permeability, improve tissue elasticity and reduce pain and anxiety.

An Internet search resulted in numerous home-study courses that any massage therapist can take to fulfill his or her continuing education requirements. In addition, numerous studies have been done to measure the effects of pain-management techniques.

In a study published in 2001, researchers found massage was effective for providing relief for patients suffering from chronic low-back pain.

Another study, which was conducted on cancer patients, showed therapeutic massage promoted relaxation and alleviated the perception of pain and anxiety.

A study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2000, found massage reduced pain and muscle spasms in patients who have multiple incisions. In that study, researchers learned that 95 percent of patients reported massage was a crucial part of hospital treatment and that the need for medications decreased on the days they received massage therapy.

Make sure you check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for your continuing education credits.

–Jeremy Maready