With an estimated 276.1 million cars on the road in the US, accidents are bound to happen, and they do at a rate of 6 million per year. The majority of the injuries sustained, as a result of a Motor Vehicle Incident (MVI), are soft tissue injuries, often affecting the neck, jaw, and lower back.
In addition to muscle pain, people can experience decreased movement and discomfort with performing daily tasks. Moreover, many people report an interruption in sleep patterns as a result of the muscle pain and dysfunction, which in turn perpetuates a pain/tension cycle.
Essentially, at the time of injury, the pain experienced from the traumatic forces exerted on the soft tissues of the body often limits an individual’s regular movement patterns—such as shoulder checking while driving; bending forward to pick something up; getting comfortable in bed; and/or staying asleep for long periods of time. As the pain persists and the muscles continue to limit movement, the brain interprets this information by keeping the body in the fight or flight response.
Along with the physical pain, feelings of anxiety and fear begin to take hold, exacerbating injury symptoms by affecting restorative, reparative sleep cycles. Disrupted sleep contributes to employment absenteeism and reduced job productivity, which further worsens anxiety and keeps the individual in the pain/tension cycle.
Sleep is integral to injury recovery as it allows tissues time to rest and relax from movement; decreases pain from muscle tension; aids in tissue repair; decreases inflammation; and improves mood and cognitive function.
An important part of the MVI recovery process is the positive effect of massage therapy on interrupted sleep patterns. A 2007 study examined the effects of massage therapy on chronic lower back pain. Participants received two 30-minute massage therapy treatments per week, for five weeks. At the end of the study, the participants reported decreases in lower back pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances.
By incorporating massage therapy into the post MVI care for patients, a demonstrable reduction in the factors that perpetuate the pain/tension cycle are observed and reported. Lowering the painful muscle tension creates an opportunity for quality sleep and mood improvement, thus breaking the cycle. It is these positive impacts that will help get you back to pain-free function, faster.
To see how massage therapy can assist you with your car accident recovery, visit Intuitive Bodywork’s team of licensed massage therapists at one of their four convenient locations.