Managing pain with aromatherapy & massage

Pain is one of the most ambiguous words used in modern society today. For what one person describes as an intense pain another would only describe as a slight niggle. Pain also comes in many forms from back pain to toothache and from muscular pain to joint pain and everything in-between. Many clients will walk through your door with some sort of pain that needs to be addressed.

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensation that may be associated with actual or potential tissue damage and which may have both physical and emotional components. The sensation of pain is a perception that signals to the individual that tissue damage has occurred or may be occurring. It is subjective and very complex.

Pain can be acute or chronic, and applies to physical and emotional pain. Acute pain lasts a short time, or is expected to be soon over. The time frame may be just seconds or as long as weeks. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts beyond the healing of an injury, continues for several months or longer, or occurs frequently for at least a period of months. In 2012 a study suggested that chronic pain affects more than two fifths of the UK population, meaning that around 28 million adults are living with pain that has lasted for three months or longer.

Pain is a critical part of the body defence system, warning us to take action in harmful situations such as when touching a hot pan. This process can become impaired, such as in some cases of severe depression. Sufferer’s emotions become blocked thus impacting on their ability to feel physical pain. Conversely in some the emotional pain can lead to increasing physical pain leading to self-anger and possibly self-harm.

Massage relaxes muscle tissue, which reduces painful contractions and spasms. Massage can also reduce nerve compression as when muscles are contracted, they sometimes compress the nerves around them. When these muscles are relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed and circulation is promoted ensuring they get oxygen and nutrients.

Aromatherapy can target pain as essential oils influence the area of the brain called the limbic system, which is where pain is perceived. The olfactory bulb is at the top of the nose so the effects of the oils is instantly taken into the limbic system and as a result can help someone very quickly when inhaling although in most cases pain is managed through a topical application on the affected area.

The limbic system is involved in registering, recording, and influencing our emotions which is done directly through the olfactory bulb so aromatherapy can help any emotional effects of pain also.

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