Robin Sloan, For The Leaf-Chronicle
People the world over are aware of the benefits of massage to relieve stress, improve health and keep the body fluid and mobile. Many are unaware, however, of the benefits that massage can afford to those suffering from sinus distress and fluid buildup. Seeking massage therapy from a trained professional in conjunction with proper medical care can not only ease the discomfort of a sinus infection, but can actually help to heal the body.
A sinus infection is often preceded by a cold, which causes swelling in the sinuses. As the sinuses swell, the flow of mucus is prevented. As a result, the hollow spaces in the skull known as sinuses are filled with fluid rather than air and an infection forms. Often symptoms include pain around the nose and eyes and thick, green mucus that lasts for more than 10 days. Occasionally, a fever may occur as well. Decongestants and other drugs may be prescribed and, in some cases, your physician may actually prescribe antibiotics to help treat the infection. However, antibiotics carry negative side effects of their own, and this is usually reserved for severe cases.
For this reason, many are turning to more homeopathic treatments for sinus infections, including massage. Particularly in those suffering from chronic sinusitis, an infection lasting three months or more, massage can be a great help in pain reduction and mucus flow. Massage is not appropriate for anyone in the acute stage of sinusitis or for those suffering from a cold. During this period the body is too fragile for the contact of massage.
Once a massage appointment has been scheduled, it is important that the massage therapist take a full inventory of your symptoms and history to ensure that massage will help and not hinder the healing process. Once this has been completed, there are three main massage techniques for those suffering from sinus problems. The first is a traditional facial massage with a concentration on the sinus area. The room is often kept warm and moist and the face may be wrapped in a warm cloth. Beginning from the facial midline, the patient is massaged in small circles laterally on the forehead to the temples, then from the nose to the cheeks, then from the chin to the ears. This form of facial massage is used mainly to decrease congestion.
A lymphatic drainage massage and cranial sacral therapy are both aimed toward moving fluid throughout the body. The LDM manually stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid by applying pressure to lymph vessels in the neck and head. As a result, congestion and sinus pressure are lessened. Cranial sacral therapy operates in much the same way, but focuses on moving stagnant cerebrospinal fluid through the skull, which relieves the jaw and ear pain frequently associated with sinus infections.
Acupressure, based in traditional Chinese medicine, is also used to relieve congestion and involves placing pressure on specific body points from the head to the feet, the theory being that the body, working as a whole, needs to be appropriately treated as a whole.