How Massage Therapy Helps Burn Patients

Massage therapy isn't for you if you still have fresh burn wounds. Massaging your body at this time may intensify the pain, irritate your skin, break your skin, and even increase the risk of an infection. Once your wounds heal, however, massage therapy can help prevent further complications, such as scarring and stiff joints. Here are four ways in which massage therapy can help:

Scar Reduction

Massage therapy can help to reduce the thickness of your scars. This is possible because different massage techniques increase blood flow to your skin and distort the collagen fibers in your scars so that they become soft and flexible. Both of these lead to a reduction of scar thickness and texture. A physical therapist, like St. Luke's Rehabilitation, may prescribe other therapies alongside massage for maximum effectiveness.

Itching Management

There is evidence that massage therapy may help reduce itching. Itching is a common phenomenon in burn recovery. It may start soon after the burn wounds start to heal or several months after that. Severe itching may interfere with your scar's ability to heal and it may interfere with your daily life routines, including work and sleep.

A professional therapist can use different techniques to reduce the stiffness of your tissues, which helps relieve the itching sensation. The use of soothing creams during a massage may also lubricate and moist the skin; this also helps to relieve itching.

Pain Reduction

Burn pain doesn't stop immediately after the wounds seem to heal. In fact, many people continue feeling pain long after getting discharged from the hospital. Apart from other pain management techniques, such as the use of medication, massage therapy may also help. For example, massage reduces body stresses by releasing endorphins (the body's natural painkillers) and oxytocin (the "love" hormone that makes you feel good). Having a massage before your debridement (removal of dead, damaged or infected tissues) session also reduces the level of pain normally associated with the treatment.

Range of Motion Improvement

Finally, massage therapy can also increase your range of motion. Massage techniques improve blood circulation and help to relax the stiff tissues that may restrict joint movement. As explained above, professional massage application may also reduce scarring and pain, both of which may hinder your mobility.

These examples just show how much you stand to gain by getting massage therapy. However, this doesn't mean that you should head to the nearest masseur after getting burned. In most cases, you need massage alongside other physical therapies for maximum benefit. Thus, it's best to consult a professional physical therapist to prescribe the best treatment combinations for your case.