Managing clients’ pain and making them feel more comfortable is the goal of any massage therapist. Learning the general principles of pain management through massage techniques can be done in the comfort of your home or office through home-study massage courses.

Using massage to treat fibromyalgia, along with orthopedic massage, trigger point therapy and sports massage all play into pain management techniques. By learning these general principles, you can help expand the scope of your practice and benefit your clients. 

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that can affect nearly anyone’s physical, mental and social dispositions. Home study courses cover such topics as signs, symptoms and causes of fibromyalgia, diagnosis, treatment, massage techniques and modalities. In some fibromyalgia courses, materials also cover coexisting conditions, topical balms, salves, along with stretches and exercises.

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

Another form of pain management is trigger point therapy. 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.

And for your sports-enthused clients, sports massage can also help relieve pain. 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 the 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 revealed numerous home study courses that are available for any massage therapist to take to fulfill their continuing education requirements.

Many studies have been conducted to measure the effects of pain-management techniques. In a study published in 2001, researchers found massage 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 reduces 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 to check with your national and state licensing bodies to make sure the courses you select are acceptable for continuing education credits.

–Jeremy Maready