Massage grants some brief relief from chronic pain

I didn't realize just how much discomfort I was in until I got up from the table

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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I’ve been dealing with a lot of muscle pain along the bottom of my ribs for the past couple of months. I don’t recall when or how it started, but once it was there, it seems like it just didn’t want to leave.

Even regular bodywork, usually my ticket to relief from my symptoms of Ehlers Danlos syndrome, was only lasting for a few days. And working on those muscles was acutely painful. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

I typically have a massage every other week, despite it not being covered by insurance, because it’s the only way I can keep my pain at a manageable level. During my last session, my therapist, Kim, and I were discussing the possible causes of this current discomfort. I mentioned that I’d noticed a few minor twinges in the front of my hip along the top of the bone.

While the pain didn’t connect directly to my back or ribs, I know there’s often a connection between my back or side pain and hip pain. One thing that’s unusual about hip pain — for me, at least — is that I rarely feel it. It’s not like I’m blocking it out, I just don’t actually seem to notice that it’s there, at least until I palpate the structures around it. Then it’s obvious.

Kim began to work on my hip and, oh my, was it painful. Clearly, my hip wasn’t happy. I felt the pain shoot from the front of my hip straight into the back of it, and then up my back and into the area along my rib cage that’s been so painful. Bingo!

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Getting to the root of my chronic pain

Clearly, there was a “chicken and egg” thing going on. My hip and back were playing off each other, and since we had previously only been working on my ribs and back, we were only solving half the puzzle. That explained why my back and ribs would flare up again so quickly; we’d only been treating a symptom, not targeting the source of the problem.

After a lot of work on my hip, I rolled over so Kim could work on my back. It was amazing how much the muscles there had already relaxed even though she hadn’t directly worked on them yet. Simply by releasing the tension in my hip, my back had released too. Kim did a bit more work on my back, further calming the muscles, but it was dramatically improved.

When I sat up, I didn’t have pain for the first time in months in my back and ribs. A perfect example of how sometimes you don’t realize how uncomfortable you are until you feel better. It felt amazing to get up and not feel sharp pain anywhere.

I know this will only last a few days, but that’s OK. My body will quickly start tightening up my muscles again as it attempts to stabilize my joints the only way nature tells it to — by tightening the muscles around them.

Regular massage work keeps that tightness from spiraling out of control and causing more pain than the laxity in my joints would. And when you manage chronic pain, any time you feel better is time to enjoy.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Nicole Whiting avatar

Nicole Whiting

As a massage therapist, the title of this article really irks me. A "rub down" is considered lewd language when referring to massage therapy. In the future, please consider calling it "massage" instead. Thanks :)

Darlena Beard avatar

Darlena Beard

What can you suggest to do for someone with Elher Dani is? And has many other health issues,scoliosis, had the surgery, has 2rods in and the hips has been filled with the jelly stuff that's between the joints.. But now the arm joints keep popping out,and it so long to get it back in ? But it popped out the next day . I REALLY WORRY ALOT ABOUT HIM,BEEN. THAT WAY ALL HIS LIFE,SINCE THE DAY HE WAS BORN .


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