What are Perpetuating Factors?
According to the Institute for Integrative Healthcare, perpetuating factors are “things that perpetuate myofascial pain due to muscle trigger points.” In other words, these factors are essential components of chronic conditions that often cause pain. Many individuals who have perpetuating factors of chronic pain often find temporary comfort in massage therapy. Because the reprieve from pain is only temporary for these sufferers of perpetuating factors, they often consider massage therapy to be a luxury service rather than a viable source of chronic pain relief. The reality is that a massage therapist as well as your medical doctor or chiropractor can help you identify any perpetuating factors that may be contributing to your chronic pain. Unless the true source of pain can be identified, you will have a hard time finding long term relief.
There are four different types of perpetuating factors:
- Mechanical Stress: Caused by body structural inadequacies like one shorter leg, postural stress like a ill fitting office desk / chair, dental malocclusion or misfitting teeth, and / or outside factors of muscle constriction like heavy purses or backpacks.
- Nutritional Inadequacies and Excess: Cause by a deficit or surplus of specific nutrients including Vitamins B1, B6, B12, and Folic Acid.
- Hormone Inadequacies and Diet: Caused by hormone fluctuations during menstrual cycles and inadequate levels of thyroid hormone. Allergies and hypoglycemia can also play a role in this kind of perpetuating factor.
- Acute or Chronic Infection: Caused by a viral or bacterial illness like the Flu as myofascial trigger points increase during systemic illnesses or active infections.
Most Americans can identify one or more of these types of chronic pain perpetrators as present in their lifestyle. Many of those Americans are also turning to massage therapy as a source of long term relief!
How can massage therapy help address Perpetuating Factors?
Massage therapy can provide temporary and long term relief to chronic pain. Temporary relief is provided by a therapist’s skill with various modalities of treatment. Long term relief can be found by an experienced therapist’s knowledge and practice.
An experienced massage therapist can help you identify lifestyle changes that can greatly impact your chronic pain. For this reason, it is a good idea to continue using the same spa for your massage therapy needs. This will allow the therapists there to all become familiar with you, your lifestyle, and your perpetuating factors. An experienced massage therapist can help chronic pain sufferers break their cycle of rehabilitation and relapse.
When you visit the same experienced therapist regularly, they will notice a specific pattern of problem areas. For example, your therapist might notice that you consistently have very tense shoulders. If he / she knows that your job involves sitting for long periods of time, your therapist might suggest a more ergonomic desk. Your massage therapists can suggest when a visit to your regular medical doctor might be warranted for a nutrition evaluation or treatment of an infection.
How can I identify Perpetuating Factors in my chronic pain?
Click here for a very helpful chart of potential perpetuating factors. Give this link a look before your next massage therapy appointment, and prepare yourself to discuss any potential chronic pain perpetrators with your therapist. Perpetuating factors are often the difference between temporary relief and long term recovery.