Self Massage for Chronic Pain Relief

Back PainAnyone who's ever rubbed a sore elbow or shoulder knows massage can bring immediate relief to pain and stiffness. But few realize what a potent tool self-massage can be in healing arthritic joints.

Inflammation causes tissues to swell, which means that excess fluid gets trapped in the spaces around the cells.  This inhibits oxygen and nutrients from getting to the tissues and slows the removal of waste materials.

When we only take supplements internally for joint problems like arthritis, the lack of micro-circulation in the damaged joint makes it difficult for the nutrients and healing constituents to reach the areas where they are needed. Massage removes this excess fluid by pumping it into the lymphatic system.  This removes waste material from around the cells and brings healing oxygen and nutrition to tissues. Since pain is often indicates a lack of oxygen at the cellular level, massage can bring immediate relief from pain and promote long-term healing at the same time.

Of course, the effects of massage don't last forever.  Eventually, the pain returns.  The problem is that chronic inflammation causes connective tissue to lose structural tone, which means it is very easy for a damaged area to swell again. The famous lymphologist, Dr. C. Samuel West, likened this to a balloon that has been inflated so many times that it has lost it's elasticity.  Thus, the area readily swells again.

According to Dr. West, if you could make the pain go away for even a short while by massaging the area, it was possible to get the tissue to heal completely. The key was to not just rub the fluid out until the pain stopped, it was to massage it often enough that you never allow it to swell up again. This keeps the fluid out of the tissue so that healing can take place. 

The Secret to Massage for Chronic Pain Relief

Massage

So, if you can massage a painful joint or area of the body and make the pain go away, don't wait until the pain has returned before massaging again. Massage the area again while it still feels good or, at least, when the pain has started up but is still at a relatively low level. Dr. West suggested that if the pain returns after four hours, then massage the area every two or three hours.

Dont be discouraged, you wont have to do this forever. If you do it consistently for a few days, you will be amazed at how quickly the area will start to heal. As you keep the fluid out of the tissues, the structural tone will begin to return, making it harder for the tissue to swell again.  So, the longer you do it, the less often you will have to massage the area to keep it pain free.

You will eventually get to the point where you may not have to massage it at all, and this can start happening in as little as three to four weeks. You may not think you have time for this, but what's the inconvenience of massaging an area half a dozen times a day for a few weeks, compared to the costs and risks of surgery or long-term pharmaceutical use?

Using Topical Analgesics

You can make this massage technique even more effective by using topical healing remedies every time you massage the area.  NSP offers many options in this area; here is some information about each.

Tei Fu Oil or Tei Fu Massage Lotion

My old standby is Tei Fu oil, a formula developed by Tei Fu Chin, a Chinese doctor who worked for NSP at one time.  These types of essential oil blends are commonly used in the Orient as topical remedies for pain and there are a number of such blends on the marketplace, such as Tiger Balm. I have tried a lot of them, but Tei Fu is still my favorite.

Tei Fu contains wintergreen oil (which contains salycilates, a natural form of aspirin), clove (a topical analgesic), lavender (which relaxes tense muscles and nerves), eucalyptus (a great oil for opening respiratory passages) and menthol and camphor (both well-recognized topical remedies for pain).  These essential oils are in a base of the fixed oil from safflowers. They are also found in a cream base in Tei Fu Massage lotion and in an aloe vera gel base in Herbal Trim Skin Treatment.

Pain Relief Trio (Lobelia, Tei Fu OIl, Capsicum Extract)

Tei Fu Oil is a first aid kit you can carry in your purse and an amazing topical analgesic for joint and muscle pains, as well as headaches, respiratory congestion, insect bites and stings and much more.  I use it as part of my pain relief trio, lobelia, capsicum and Tei Fu. I have used these three remedies for all kinds of injuries and pain, including backache, neck and shoulder pain, headaches and strained muscles from over exertion.

Pain Trio

To use this pain relief trio, start by mixing equal parts of lobelia extract and capsicum extract and applying them topically to the affected area.  Lobelia eases muscle spasms and cramps and capsicum draws healing blood to the area.  Capsicum also contains the pain-relieving substance capsaicin, which blocks pain receptors.

After massaging this in to loosen tense muscles and ease the pain, you follow it with an application of Tei Fu Oil or Tei Fu Massage Lotion.  This completes the analgesic effect and appears to drive the lobelia and capsicum deeper into the tissues. It also creates a more sustained effect.

There are too many uses for Tei Fu to put into this newsletter, so you'll have to go online and read the article I've posted about Tei Fu Oil.  I've also posted an article on lobelia and there is another article already online about capsicum.

Deep Relief Oil

Another essential oil blend that can be applied topically to ease pain is Deep Relief.  Deep Relief also contains the topical analgesic clove, but it combines it with ginger and nutmeg oils.
Nutmeg is also an analgesic and a very powerful one.  In fact, when I was in Maylasia during the 1980s, I discovered that they use nutmeg like many Western herbalists use capsicum, as a kind of cure-all.

In my experience Deep Relief oil is a stronger analgesic, but Tei Fu is a better general healer (and I like the smell better).

MSMMSM/Glucosamine Cream

For arthritis and other joint pains, however, there are two products that are much more targeted.  The first is my favorite, MSM/Glucosamine Cream. MSM is an organic sulfur compound that penetrates readily through the skin.  It is a derivative of DMSO, which has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory agent. MSM is safer than DMSO, but is still great for reducing inflammation and pain and helping rebuild tissues.

This formula also contains glucosamine sulfate, a compound, which is part of the cartilage in healthy joints. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which involves a breakdown of cartilage in the joints. With the penetrating effects of MSM, this cream can help deliver glucosamine directly to damaged joints to aid repair, while reducing pain and inflammation.

I use MSM/Glucosamine Cream on my right knee (which was injured twice when I was a teenager) and broken when I was a young adult.  I also use it on the vertebrae in my upper back (near the shoulders) where I get pain from working too much on computers.  After applying the MSM/Glucosamine Cream to these areas, I follow it up with some Tei Fu oil.  This has worked wonders for easing any pain or discomfort I develop in these areas.

Other Topical Pain Relievers

There is also Everflex Pain Cream which contains menthol and MSM in a cream base.  This is another option for easing joint and muscle pain, but is not a product with which I have personal experience.

Where there is scar tissue in the area of old injuries, Helicrysum essential oil diluted with Vitamin E and Super GLA as a carrier oil can promote healing. Helicrysum is an expensive oil, but it is amazing what it can do to soften scar tissue and speed healing, especially when mixed with vitamin E.

Using self-massage to ease pain and promote healing is a simple, yet very powerful, tool, which is completely free. It just takes a little thought and time, but small, persistent efforts will yield powerful results.