Q: I am trying to get rid of numbness in my hands and arms and a chiropractor has asked me to get a massage to help. How is that going to make a difference? I know massage feels good, but how will it help numbness in my hands and arms?
A: You may think of a massage as an indulgence you treat yourself to every once in a while. Massage therapy, however, can also be an effective part of an overall health plan and certainly can be very helpful as a part of treatment for certain ailing conditions. In fact, it is one of the treatment techniques many chiropractors, like myself, may incorporate into your treatment plan to ease pain and loosen stiff muscles. I call this type of massage therapeutic or medical massage.
Depending on your situation, the chiropractor and massage therapist may apply different types of massage. Deep tissue massage is designed to break up adhesions, which are rigid, painful bands in deep muscles and commonly result from an injury. Light touch is self-explanatory and is designed to increase lymphatic and blood flow. There are several types of massage, but they may very well serve a critical role in the correction of many musculoskeletal problems if used appropriately.
Keeping your muscles functioning properly is critical to your overall health. When muscles are flexible and working properly they serve their role to move joints, without dysfunction. A tight muscle will pull some other body part out of line, meaning a muscle problem can lead to a problem with the spine or some other joint. When one or more vertebrae—the individual bones that make up the spine—are pulled out of line, they can irritate nerves that emanate to other parts of the body. On the other hand, an ailing joint or nerve can cause the muscle to go into spasm. Either way, the muscle plays a big role in the production of pain and must be addressed if a complete recovery is to be attained.
In the situation you are experiencing, my guess is that the muscles of the neck, called the scalenes, are directly compressing the brachial plexus, a group of nerves that go down the arm. Massage is going to be a great adjunct to the adjustment and may offer a means for relif and correction. We have several massage therapists that have become a critical part of our healthcare team and I have noticed tremendous benefit from working with them for our patients. Give it a try and you will likely see that your chiropractor has made a good recommendation.
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