While working in the hospice field for many years as a massage therapist, I encountered countless bedridden patients who endured chronic pain on a daily basis. I truly believe massage therapy is an excellent natural way to promote health, comfort, and pain relief for anyone that may be experiencing any degree of pain or discomfort related to being confined to a bed or chair.
Ailments Often Experienced
In the event one is bedridden for a long period of time, they will most likely experience physical pain due to being immobile. A person’s natural movement helps the body conduct its normal day to day functions, such as: regulating blood circulation, the removal of lactic acid, and digestion. When an individual becomes bedridden, normal functions of the body are halted causing physical ailments, in example: poor blood circulation, lactic acid build up, digestive trouble, muscle spasms, nerve pain and the list goes on and on. Therapeutic massage can aid in healing these ailments and facilitate restoration of the body’s normal functions.
Conditions Improved by Therapeutic Massage
When blood circulation is poor, an individual’s extremities may become swollen, blue or purple in color, and cold to the touch. Improper circulation and pressure over a bony prominence such as the tail bone or heel of the foot may cause pressure sores to develop. Swedish massage increases blood circulation which will decrease swelling as well as nourish tissues of the body that otherwise may become discolored or even die. Lymphatic massage promotes healthy lymph drainage in the body. This reduces swelling in the lymph nodes and encourages positive lymph health throughout the body; helping the body fight sickness and disease.
Excessive lactic acid build up can cause soreness within the muscles. Oxygen breaks down lactic acid in the body so that it may be flushed out. When a person is unable to move independently, the amount of oxygen the body receives decreases, thus making the muscles sore. Massage creates movement of the soft tissues and helps to oxygenate the blood, flushing out the lactic acid; in turn alleviating the soreness and that may be experienced.
Most people who are bedridden are plagued with related digestive issues. When a person’s body is not moving as it should, digestion slows down. Not only is this uncomfortable, the toxins that build up within the body from being unable to excrete for long periods of time, can be very dangerous. Many patients make regular use of stool softeners, laxatives, or enemas to help with the occurrence of constipation caused by a slowed digestive tract. Though sometimes helpful, these medications often can be uncomfortable, causing cramps or bloating; they are also a bit messy to use. By gently administering Swedish massage to the abdomen in a clockwise motion, digestion issues can be resolved and regularity restored.
Muscle spasms and nerve pain associated with being confined to a bed or chair may also be relieved through therapeutic massage. Compression and stretching of the irritated muscle will quiet and relax relentless spasms, while long, soothing, effleurage strokes will calm overactive nerve endings that trigger sharp pains or burning sensations often associated with neuropathy.
Joint and muscle stiffness are common issues in most bedridden patients. When joints are not moved regularly, they become stiff, sore, and often immovable. Massaging the area around the joint warms the connective tissue that surrounds it, making less painful for the joint to be manipulated. Muscle pain may be relieved in the same way as long as no inflammation is present. By applying Swedish massage techniques such as effleurage and petrissage along with regular, gentle stretching of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the muscles will become warm and pliant. Increased joint movement can be obtained by freeing constricted fascia through myofascial release and using gentle range of motion techniques. Pending the condition and severity, a trained and knowledgeable therapist may also use deep tissue massage together with trigger point therapy to ease pain and symptoms in association with being confined to one place or position for long periods of time.
Massage therapy is a natural and holistic approach to pain relief and healing. Many home health and hospice organizations are incorporating it into their care plan and it is being accepted by many major insurance companies as a form of health care; making it cost effective. When seeking medical treatment for yourself or a loved one that is bedridden, consider therapeutic massage – The power of touch is truly miraculous!