Story by Shauna Moore, Student @ EMSOM March 2017 Class

As a future medical massage therapist, the absolute best thing you can hope for when you take on a new client is a positive outcome that helps the client to be in less pain and live a better life. Most of us go into this field with the goal of making a difference in people’s lives. As we’ve started doing clinical, I have gotten the chance to work with more and more people that I have never met before with different ways of life, muscular problems, pain levels, and tolerances. I have gotten to see the positive impact that I’ve had on other people’s daily lives, but one definitely sticks out more than the rest.

This particular client to into me with a multitude of problems. This client has severe back pain often. She also has sciatic nerve pain and trouble with her hips. This particular visit, she came in with a pain level of ten out of ten. It was difficult for her to point to show me where on her back it hurt the worst. She even chose to stand instead of sitting for the intake interview process due to the pain it caused to sit and stand again. When I left the room so she could undress for her massage, it was audibly noticeable the amount of discomfort she was in, even from the other side of the door. When I re-entered the room, I had to adjust the face cradle because even though it was in a neutral position, it was too painful to hold her neck normally laying prone.

We spent the greater part of an hour just working on getting the inflammation and restriction out of her back to be able to reach the trigger points in the muscles. After a while, I was able to get down to the root of the problems – trigger points buried deep in the layers of muscles. She had a number of trigger points, but one in her erector muscles on either side of her back was causing a vast amount of difficulty. She also had a very large trigger point at the inferior angle of her left scapula that was causing a huge amount of restriction of movement of her left shoulder. There were various other smaller constrictions and scar tissue and trigger points throughout her shoulder and rotator cuff muscles that were also causing her pain to a lesser degree.

It took a lot of friction and compression to get the muscles to a point where they were pliable enough to let me in, but once we got through them to the deeper tissue below, she began feeling almost immediate relief. We did a lot of work all over her back and then I began to work on her neck a little bit. Her occipital muscles were extremely tight, along with the attachments for all of her neck and shoulder muscles there. But after only a few minutes she had some relief for those areas too.

In the end, she left the session with her pain reduced from a level 10 down to a level 4. Part of me wishes that I could have managed to get her all the way down to a level 1 or 2, but that significant of an improvement made such a huge difference in her life for the day. She thanked me so many times for making her feel less “like a pretzel” that I couldn’t help but feel like I had done a good job. Seeing how much better she felt after just an hour of work was so fantastic. I can’t wait to be able to do the same and better things for many other clients in my future as a therapist.