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Massage therapy

Dear all,

Following up my previous post I have been recommended a sports massage therapist and I thought I would give it a go as after a whole month of PT/ twice weekly I haven't seen much improvement.

The lady I have seen is a trained sports massage therapist and after assessing my condition she has done some alignment techniques, exercises as well as mild massage on my upper and lower back. She said that apparently my entire back was full of spasms and she seemed really hopeful that once that is sorted after a few sessions, the inflammation is likely to decrease I should be able to get back to normal which would be a dream come true for me as it has been a very long time I have been struggling with this.

Now a few hours after the treatment I feel very sore but I don't have any mobility issues, I just feel discomfort, mostly in my neck.

Is this normal and what are your thoughts and experiences with massage therapy?

Is it efficient for bulging disc treatments?

I highly appreciate your thoughts on the above.

Many thanks!



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,452
    Massage therapy alone generally is not going to correct a disc related issue. It may bring on some relief.

    There are so many different types of massage, but to make it general here are the major types
    • Relaxing, Swedish. These are the massages you would get at a spa, nice, soothing and relaxing
    • Physical Therapy Massage: Some what more intense and deeper, designed to clear up knots.
    • Sports Massage: Deeper, getting to the inner core of problems, Many sports teams have these types
    • Deep/Soft Tissue Thai Massage: A combination of pure Thai with Deep/Soft Tissue. Can be very painful
    Depending on how forceful the massage was, you will probably be sore for a day or so. But in time you might realize some relief. Note, that this is NOT going to correct the herniated disc, but make it easier for you to live with it.

    When I had more problems with my herniated Thoracic discs, conventional physical therapy, massage, etc was not enough to help me with my pain. My physiatrist sent me to this little Thai massage specilast. For the next 6 months , we had weekly sessions where he would use his arms, elbows, fingers, palms and when I was on the floor, his heels and toes to work on my back. I had bruises and many times the massage brought me to tears. But slowly, he was able to make my deep rhomboid muscle pliable, where before it was hard as a rock. Being pliable, it had less strain on my thoracic discs. That was almost 10 years ago and I still see him perhaps every other month for a tune up.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Dear Ron,

    Thank you for sharing the above and it's great to hear that the massage gave you relief.
    My husband also gets a Thai massage regularly and it helps him a lot to relief his muscle spams.

    In my case I have been told by several doctors that my condition is not bad enough for a surgery but equally not well enough to disregard it. It's just always there and very uncomfortable.

    I must say that I was very sceptical but I got the massage (which was a mixture of sports therapy and PT) done yesterday regardless, and for the very first time in months I felt that the pain and discomfort is much less than what I am used to, so I am considering to give it a try again in the next weeks.

    You have mentioned that massages are just to relief the pain and make it easier to live with the bulge.
    I have read on many forums that many people live with this issue without realising it's even there.

    Ideally I would like to try alternative therapies to reach that stage.

    Out of experience do you think this is realistic or are most people with this condition end up having surgery at some point?

    I appreciate your valuable advise!

    Thank you very much!
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  • I had neck surgery this year, but probably have had herniated discs for at least 20 years without knowing it, because until this year the situation was never dire enough that I went for a MRI and I was so naive that I thought neck pain was just a normal part of life.

    I was a huge consumer of massage services for the 20 years prior to surgery where I had nagging neck pain. My experience was that some massage therapists helped and others didn't (some even aggravating me), and that I knew within one session who was going to help and who wasn't. What I'm saying is that the ones who helped me helped me right away and I wasn't sore after the treatment, although sometimes I yelped a bit during the treatment itself because of the intense pressure. But with the ones who helped me, I always felt better immediately after the treatment.

    Personally, I found Thai massage and shiatsui the most effective for me; Swedish massage to be a waste of time and so-called "sports massage" to be aggravating.

    Your mileage may vary.
    C6-C7 ACDF - January 20, 2016
    Shoulder surgery - August 2, 2016
    Interlaminar laminotomy, mesial facetectomy and foraminotomy bilateral at C5-C6 and unilateral left at C6-C7 and bilateral C6-C7 facet fusion - December 7, 2016

  • Thank you very much for sharing your experience with massage therapy.

    Did your condition improve after the surgery? I know what you mean when you say that we end up thinking the discomfort is normal. It certainly shouldn't be!

    I am happy to read that you also think that if it doesn't feel right the first time it probably won't help in the long run. I usually end up so much in pain after any massage so I was very sceptical the last time I went but this time I felt that something really improved my condition as the pain is not as bad anymore and this is the very first time in years. I will it another go this week and I really hope that the therapy will help in the long run.

    I feel that in my case the condition is not severe enough for a surgery but not well enough to live with and it's really difficult to find a physician who can give tangible answers and I can see that many who have this issue are confused on which road to take.

  • Did your condition improve after the surgery? I know what you mean when you say that we end up thinking the discomfort is normal. It certainly shouldn't be!

    Yes, my condition improved vastly after surgery. What actually drove me to have a MRI, which revealed that I was in danger of paralysis if I didn't have surgery, was that I was going for my usual pricey massages (I shudder to think how much money I spent on massage over 20 years -- probably over $60,000), but no longer was I finding much relief from massage. I was stunned as to why massage was no longer helping and why I was in constant pain and I didn't know what was wrong (in retrospect, I look back at how naive I was - over those 20 years, I really thought that everyone who could afford it spent $3,000 a year or more on massage and it was just part of a stressful life and a stressful job). Finally, I got a MRI and everything was revealed. I saw a lot of surgeons and pain management specialists after my MRI before finally deciding which surgeon I wanted to use, and they all told me that I had the neck degeneration for many, many years and that my body just coped and adjusted until it couldn't adjust anymore.

    And my condition got worse and worse in the four months between MRI and surgery as I was making the rounds of specialists -- the pain got more excruciating and I got electrical shock sensation in one of my legs and my gait became unbalanced.

    As to your comment, "I feel that in my case the condition is not severe enough for a surgery but not well enough to live with and it's really difficult to find a physician who can give tangible answers" -- I think perhaps you are just not seeing the right specialists. If you have a MRI, especially very clear images on a 3T machine, and the MRI is reviewed by a radiologist who specializes in spine, you really should have a description of every single issue in your cervical spine, and each issue should be graded as either normal, or if not normal, as "mild," "moderate" or "severe." It is when something is graded as "severe," whether central canal stenosis (which is very dangerous) or neuroforaminal stenosis that it is time to find a stellar neurosurgeon (which may mean leaving your country if you can afford it) and start having serious talks about whether surgery could help you. If nothing is graded as severe on your MRI, then that is a whole different ball of wax.

    Finally, I would add that while I suffered 20 years of neck pain, until last year, I never had numbness or tingling in my hand. Numbness and tingling are another sign that things have become severe.

    And I spoke with someone last week who is having an emergency Foraminotomy tomorrow at C4-C5. This is a guy who never suffered neck pain in his life, but all of a sudden couldn't lift his left arm. He ran to the emergency room (because that kind of thing will freak you out), had imaging, had to wait three weeks to get into see a neurosurgeon, who immediately scheduled him for surgery because of concern about permanent nerve damage.

    I think imaging is your friend because it will reveal problems before they become emergencies, but in the case of the guy above, since he never had any neck pain, he never had a real call to have imaging before it became a true emergency since they don't offer you a cervical MRI during your annual physical.
    C6-C7 ACDF - January 20, 2016
    Shoulder surgery - August 2, 2016
    Interlaminar laminotomy, mesial facetectomy and foraminotomy bilateral at C5-C6 and unilateral left at C6-C7 and bilateral C6-C7 facet fusion - December 7, 2016

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  • Dear L.A. Spiney, Thank you very much for your comment and sharing your experience. I am really sorry to read that your condition has been going on for such a long time. I am happy to hear though that it improved after surgery, that is wonderful!

    In my case I had two MRI's done in the past two years and the condition is classed as moderate and it hasn't improved. The doctors keep advising me to monitor the situation and do all necessities such as exercises and physio therapy which I have been doing but all improvement I can see is that when the pain is acute it gives me relief but the discomfort is always there. I just sincerely wonder if I have to live with this for the rest of my life of if I could ever reach a state where the disc doesn't disrupt my well being. I keep being told that it is case to case basis and no one can give me a tangible answer.

    I am considering to see specialists abroad in Europe on one of our next trips as I pretty much explored most doctors in our region.

    As for the sports massage it has been very painful but did give me some sort of relief. The therapist is positive that the condition can be improved this way so lets see.
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