My buddy recently had knee replacement surgery and the results have been fantastic - for his knee. But following the operation he began experiencing back pain probably due to his body readjusting to not compensating for the excruciating pain he’d been in for years. He asked me what I thought he might do.
“Why don’t you find a good clinical massage therapist and have them do some work on you?” I suggested.
“Maybe, but that'll only be t
emporary relief,” he replied.
Which got me thinking about the word - temporary.
My buddy decided against massage therapy and went the route of his general practitioner who got him started with some muscle relaxant medications. They worked, but it was only temporary. He had to continue taking the pills to keep his back pain in check. He then found himself suffering from insomnia, which his doctor said was probably caused by the muscle relaxers. So she prescribed him some Ambien to help him sleep. The Ambien didn’t work for him - he still couldn’t sleep only now had the added bonus of experiencing some really disturbing thoughts along with creepy crawly sensations under his skin. So the doctor took him off the Ativan and prescribed him a benzodiazepene. I think it was Ativan. But that didn’t do the trick so she prescribed him a drug normally prescribed to Parkinson’s Disease patients. This worked to the extent that he was averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night.
Three weeks had passed since he first called me about the back pain. Three sleepless, miserable weeks. After reassuring me that he was far from suicidal, he confided in me that he, “could understand how someone could kill themselves due to insomnia.
That’s some pretty scary stuff.
What might have happened if he decided to see a knowledgable massage therapist? It’s hard to say, but let’s just assume that he was right in his prediction that the pain relief would only be temporary. What if it gave him relief for three days? He could schedule another appointment for some more temporary relief, and follow that up with another appointment in another three days.
And when it was all said and done, he would have been out $100 - $200 for the bodywork, nine or ten days would have passed, and his back pain would be reduced to more than a manageable level. I know this because I see and work with these people every day. And you know what? It sometimes is temporary. Just as temporary as the unsuccessful back surgery they’ve endured. Just as temporary as the eight weeks of physical therapy. And just as temporary as the prescription pain, anxiety, and sleeping pills being dispensed like gumballs from the physician.
But what wouldn’t have happened is that he wouldn’t have subjected his kidneys and liver to a host of pills that threw his body so far out of whack that he couldn’t sleep more than two hours a night.
Ask your doctor some questions, and more importantly do a bit of research yourself. It wasn’t that long ago that we were being told ibuprofen was a miracle pain pill with some chance of liver damage but only for those on extremely high doses. Below are the results of a highly-publicized medical study which found otherwise:
The Danish study looked at 29,000 people who experienced a cardiac arrest, and then at whether these people had taken NSAIDs.
The researchers found the risk of a cardiac arrest was increased by a third for those who took ibuprofen in the 30 days leading up to cardiac arrest.
So yes, sometimes my work affords people temporary relief - one, two, three weeks at a time. But given the choice of receiving a series of massages from a knowledgable therapist or having addictive and dangerous drugs blindly thrown at me with no guarantee of actually hitting the target and putting a dent in my pain, my answer would be this: I’ll take the bodywork and let the chips fall where they may.