Finding Hope for Chronic Pain Relief:
Combining Massage Therapy with Trigger Point and Reiki Therapy
by Laura Sadler, B.A., CMT
was over ten years ago that I sat in a doctor's office preparing to
have yet another x-ray taken of my knee when I had a disturbing
conversation with the technician. She told me that most people who
suffered from the kind of pain I had never recover. I was in my
mid-twenties and had already struggled with the injury for over a year.
I couldn’t imagine having to live with such discomfort for the rest of
I immediately became determined to make a full
recovery and I refused to buy into such a negative perspective. I
couldn’t believe that a medical professional would say something that
could make someone feel so hopeless.
I had already tried
physical therapy. I'd had x-rays and an MRI, but the doctors couldn’t
find what was wrong. Eventually, I did find relief for my pain. I
discovered the world of alternative medicine. I wound up seeing an
acupuncturist, getting massages and I learned how to do Trigger Point
therapy on myself. Since then I have become a practitioner. I don’t
believe people should have to live with chronic pain and so I have made
pain relief one of the focuses of my practice.
Reiki Provides Relief
clients have come to me requesting reiki treatments for their pain.
Reiki is an ancient touch therapy that, like acupuncture, balances the
‘chi’ or energy of the body, but without needles. In contrast to
massage, the hands remain still during treatment and emanate heat which
induces a state of relaxation in the patient. The sensation that reiki
produces may be subtle but its effect penetrates far more deeply than
the hands can physically. Thus it accelerates and assists in the
Reiki doesn’t just help relieve chronic pain;
it also works on an emotional level. People who suffer from chronic
pain tend to experience depression. Finding yourself unable to move the
way you're accustomed to is understandably upsetting. I find patients
frequently report that their physicians prescribe antidepressants for
the emotional repercussions of their ailment without addressing the
ailment itself or confirming that their emotions are not abnormal (as
in they are not ‘clinically’ depressed). Conversely, reiki treats both
the injury and the emotional distress that it causes without the use of
A Three-Pronged Approach
clients who requested reiki suffered from conditions ranging from
herniated discs to sports injuries to chronic headaches. I suggested
integrating trigger point therapy and massage into the treatment as
well. Most chronic pain sufferers experience muscle spasms and/or
muscle contracture or shortening of the muscles and tendons in and
around a specific injury. Sometimes called neuromuscular therapy or
myotherapy, trigger point therapy targets the pain by applying direct
pressure to the sites of tenderness or ‘hot spots’. Maintaining
pressure on the hot spots for several seconds allows the muscle to
release toxins and encourages the flow of fresh blood and oxygen, which
allows the muscle to heal.
Combining reiki, massage and trigger point therapy has produced some very good results.
Case History: Client A
A was in a car accident 20 years ago and had an old back injury that
never completely healed. Recently the pain had increased to shooting
pains down the front of the thighs to the knees. Client A had an MRI
that confirmed the existence of herniated discs in the lower lumber
(low back). Client A is generally a very active person and had found
that their debilitating condition made them feel fearful of the pain,
to the point of having a special routine for getting out of bed. This
also made them feel depressed. Client A was taking Bextra, a medication
for pain and inflammation on a daily basis.
Treatment: Weekly 1
hour visits. 35-40 minutes of massage and trigger point therapy, 20-25
minutes of reiki on affected area, which included the site of injury
and followed the referred pain down to the hips. Occasional reiki
treatment began at the head to give additional relief from stress.
after first treatment: The shooting pain in the thighs vanished almost
completely. The pain had been at a 10 on the scale of 0-10 and it had
decreased to a 5. Client A still had a little bit of shooting pain on
the left side, but it was much more manageable. Client A was able to
start moving their body a lot more and subsequently was feeling happier
and hopeful that they could recover. They were able to reduce Bextra to
an as needed basis.
Results after third treatment: The shooting
pain is gone, now the pain is localized at the point of injury. Even
so, Client A has been able to start a light workout.
after six weeks: Client A is almost pain free. They have some tightness
in the left hip. Client A had a relapse after one of their first
strenuous workouts, but the pain never returned to the front legs.
Client A is now able to do their workout at full speed and is slowly
increasing the amount of exercise. No longer taking Bextra.
Results after two months: Client A is pain free and has complete mobility.
the time some of my clients come for treatment, they have passed
through countless doctor's offices and nearly lost hope. Many have
tried drug therapy or cortisone shots. Western medicine has failed to
grant them any lasting relief. Compounding the problem, physicians who
find themselves unable to successfully treat these patients often wind
up attributing the ailments to psychological rather than physical
causes and recommend psychotherapy.
The therapies I've
described above do not offer an immediate fix but when performed on
weekly or bi-weekly basis over a few weeks can greatly reduce and
potentially eliminate pain. The older the injury, the longer it may
require treatment, although, even in these instances the first three
treatments tend to produce palpable relief. Experiencing those kind of
results can make all of the difference in the world. Finally, these
patients have good news to report and, most importantly, they discover
a reason to believe that they can make a full recovery.
Sadler is a Certified Massage Therapist, Reiki Master and Yoga
Instructor in Los Angeles. She also has a B.A. in Psychology from UC
Irvine. Laura became a healing arts practitioner after living with
chronic pain due to sports injuries. It was through her experiences in
healing herself that she learned she has a special gift and true
compassion for those dealing with pain or stress.