Can Massage Help with Chronic Pain?

Talk to anyone who suffers from chronic pain and before very long, the subject turns to anxiety. They may say things like, “It’s worst when I’m stressed out,” or “I hold my stress in my neck and shoulders,” or “Stress always shows up in my lower back.” The reality is that while pain can cause worry and stress, the opposite is also true. 


Chronic Anxiety Can Lead to Chronic Pain

Chronic anxiety, whether from job issues, money problems, relationship conflicts, or something else, can become disabling chronic pain. It also amplifies perceived pain from other sources. Fighting the symptoms of chronic anxiety, or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can be frustrating. For starters, these symptoms are diverse, and may suggest other causes. And treating them may be like fighting smoke instead of fire. 

Combating anxiety disorders can be difficult as well. Exercise might be helpful, but for those with chronic pain, it may be unrealistic and could make matters worse. Because anxiety may be related to sleep deprivation or insomnia, so targeting anything that interferes with sleep, behavioral or pathological, could help. And trauma, physical and emotional, can trigger anxiety and, in turn, chronic pain.


How Massage Can Help

While causes of anxiety disorder and associated pain may be difficult to determine, for many, thankfully, one kind of treatment may be a helpful remedy: massage therapy. 

First, massage is aesthetically pleasing. Simply sitting in a chair or relaxing on a table, closing your eyes, and enjoying the relaxing sensation of massage can bring rewards. If anxiety is caused by stress, massage is helpful by reducing adrenalin and cortisol levels— the stress hormones— while simultaneously boosting beneficial hormones, oxytocin and serotonin. And if the build-up of toxins in muscle tissue is a factor, then massage can help your body flush those out. 


You’re in Your Head

Also, an anxious state is “heady.” When we are anxious, we are “in our heads,” as opposed to being “in your body” or “comfortable in your skin.” Massage is an effective way of getting out of your head and instead bringing sensation to your skin, your muscles, your body. 


More is Better

Importantly, repeated massage therapy increases the benefits of the treatment. Dr. Christopher Moyer on states, “When a series of massage therapy sessions was administered, the first session in the series provided significant reductions in anxiety, but the last session in the same series provided reductions that were almost twice as large.”

That is to say, experience of massage makes massage more effective. Frequent massage from a premium massage chair is a great way to make massage available when you need it and when you want it. 


“What Are Anxiety Disorders?” Edited by Smitha Bhandari, WebMD, WebMD, 12 June 2017,

Broomfield, Aaron. “Anxiety & Chronic Pain: A Self-Help Guide.”, 20 June 2018,

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