Not every problem in the body has a massage answer. As therapists, we need to be aware of this fact so we can help our clients get the results they need as quickly as possible. There’s an old expression that goes something like this: if all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.
There often comes a time when it’s necessary to refer to other healthcare practitioners. We are frequently asked when is it appropriate to go to the next level. This isn’t an exhaustive list but we wanted to discuss a few common examples.
The first and best answer is always when you as a client think it’s necessary. Your body is important and your doctor is an integral part of your healthcare team. If you think you need to see your doc, definitely do it.
The second answer is usually, “Let’s see how you feel after this session.” If you see immediate and significant improvement (50% or better) and it lasts at least 48 hours, it’s safe to say the soft tissue is at least part of the main problem and therapeutic massage is a path forward. If you get a complete rebound in pain symptoms within hours of treatment, you need to see a doctor and probably have an image taken of your injury. Massage will have a limited impact in this case.
Another example would be seeing progress for several sessions before plateauing. In the case of an injury this can mean something deeper is going on and a physician should check it out. On the other hand, if you’re an athlete who has seen significant improvement in symptoms but you have not decreased your activity, the nagging pain may just be your body saying it needs more rest to heal. Again, if it’s not healing we would recommend have a doctor image it to be safe.
Every once in awhile we see a client who is suffering with above average levels of pain response during the treatment. In these cases, you definitely should see a doctor. This will feel different than a muscle pain and if it happens we will stop and advise the client to contact their primary care physician. This can be a sign of a serious underlying condition.
If you were involved in a car accident or had an injury that left you without the ability to perform a specific movement, we often recommend physical therapy to restore strength and function. We have several great people to recommend should you need this. Our work and theirs complement each other very well and we have often consulted with providers in the past to make sure clients are getting long term results.
Many clients choose to visit us and a chiropractor as well. This is another example where the work we do enhances outcomes in conjunction with other therapies.
Lastly, if you think you suffer from TMJ disorder or grind your teeth at night and haven’t seen a dentist, please do! Take care of those pearly whites and your jaw will thank you as well.
If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and are unsure if therapeutic massage will help, call us at 317-488-8933 for a free consultation.