Severe pain has been a constant element in Theresa Aschbacher’s daily life since she began suffering from the debilitating effects of having rheumatoid arthritis 35 years ago. With arthritis from her hands to her toes, inflamed joints throughout her body and the absence of cartilage in many areas such as her hips and knees, Theresa has very limited options for pain relief remedies since she’s unable to take medications for her disease and pain medications aren’t effective for her.
Weekly two-hour massage therapy sessions with Lanette Avery, massage therapist at Elements Springs Ranch, are what have made the biggest difference for helping Theresa tolerate and manage her chronic pain.
“I’ve been using massage therapy for the past 10 years,” explains Theresa. “It was painful for me at first so I started out slowly with only one-hour sessions once a month. Today, I have worked up to two-hour weekly sessions and now I’m with a massage therapist year round.
"Massage therapy has been my constant to help me with my rheumatoid arthritis pain and to recover from our recent car accident.”
In addition to suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for the majority of her life and undergoing 46 major surgeries during the course of her lifetime due to the disease, Theresa and her husband Gary also endured a head-on car collision on the interstate 18 months ago that left Theresa with multiple broken bones including her ribs and Gary with whiplash, locked jaw and injury to his hips. As Theresa’s primary caregiver, Gary also had to endure extra lifting associated with caring for Theresa as they both recovered from the accident.
Both Gary and Theresa turned to therapeutic massage at Elements Springs Ranch shortly after their accident to help with their recovery and rehabilitation process.
“Massage therapy is just a life saver for Theresa because every movement she makes is very painful, yet she still needs her muscles exercised and the tension loosened in her locked-up areas to help keep everything moving,” shares Gary. “After our accident, massage was critical for both of us. I went for a massage right after the accident to initially get my muscles back in shape and to help with my recovery process. Massage helped me to move forward better and to heal a lot quicker after our accident.”
Gary continues to get a massage every two weeks from his therapist, Ronnie Henry, who focuses his deep tissue sessions on releasing tension and increasing range of motion in Gary’s neck, shoulders, forearms, jaw and upper back. Ronnie also will mix in some trigger point techniques and neuromuscular work into Gary’s massage sessions to target his specific pain areas.
Gary believes that regular massage not only helped him recuperate from their major car accident, but that the regular therapeutic experience helps him maintain a more active and pain-free lifestyle as he ages into his 40s and continues caring for Theresa.
“Massage following an accident like Gary and Theresa had is really important as far as pain management goes,” explains Ronnie. “I really wanted to help Gary manage his pain first and foremost because that’s what gets him through his day. Now, we focus on relaxing his tense muscles during our sessions and releasing the stress that he deals with in his daily life.”
As for Theresa, her conditions have intensified since the car accident and as her rheumatoid arthritis progresses. But massage continues to be a significant part of her life and a key element to managing her chronic pain.
Lanette approaches Theresa’s sessions with extra care and awareness to what’s hurting Theresa at the time, but a deeper pressure massage technique tends to bring the best results to help reduce pain in the areas she’s suffering most. She usually starts Theresa’s sessions with myofascial release and then proceeds with deep tissue focused work and stretching for her back and hip areas. Lanette addresses Theresa’s back and hip pain for the first hour of her massage and then finishes the work by applying Biofreeze on the length of her back area for additional pain relief treatment.
“Theresa isn’t someone who can go without regular massage,” explains Lanette. “It’s really different working with her because every part of her body hurts and she’s in constant pain. I have her give me a lot of feedback during our sessions because I want to make sure I’m hitting all of her problem areas, which can change from week to week.”
“We are just trying to get my pain to a tolerable level. So that’s why it’s beneficial for me to get a massage every week,” shares Theresa. “I have a lot of problems in my lower back and glutes because I don’t have a left hip any more, which causes me to rely on my right hip and leg a lot to walk. My muscles can get really knotted up in this area.
"During my massage, I feel a real release in my neck, back and legs. Many times after the massage, I even leave the session walking better and I’m more stable in my steps.”
Even in the hardest and most painful of times, massage has helped the Aschbachers manage pain and realize a sense of relief that other treatments weren’t capable of accomplishing. While there isn’t a cure for Theresa’s chronic conditions, there is hope that she can at least experience some level of relief each week she visits Lanette for a therapeutic massage experience. And for Gary, massage continues to be a critical component for his health and wellness so he can provide the best care for Theresa.