It’s not a frequent occurrence for a client to come in after having had a massage the day prior, agonizing over an escalation in pain they originally came in to have relieved. As fate would have it, two of the three sessions I had the other day were of this variety.
Both client’s surge came after seeing other therapists...phew! I happen to know both practitioners well and they were two of the best I’d ever come across. Clients were known to delay international flights just to squeeze into a session with them, so back-to-back trouble shooting sessions from them was sort of shocking.
The first client left a voicemail at 3:00 in the morning after being woken up by an incessant shoulder pain that started a couple of hours after an “awesome session” with her therapist. Thankfully, she squeezed herself onto my schedule for the very next afternoon moments after someone cancelled a session with me.
The second one was with a client whose spasms were reignited the morning after a session with a therapist I’d personally referred him to see when I wasn’t available. The low back strain we’d slowly been working out over the past few weeks, suddenly spiked to reliably unbearable.
I made sure, with both of them, to get a detailed account on how things escalated. Did the added pain start as soon as the session was over or did it take some time before they could initially feel it? Was it a rapid intensification or a slower buildup before it reached its zenith? Had they experienced pain similar to this before or was it wholly unfamiliar?
I reassured them both that my first priority was to alleviate the symptoms and not try to “resolve” their overall condition. Their heads nodded and shoulders relaxed after hearing me say those words.
I’ve got to imagine that a client or two has found themselves on another therapists table after a session with me in the hopes of mitigating that less-than-pleasant-post-massage-feel no therapist aspires to achieve. I’m of the opinion that, as therapists, we should share a kinship that drives us to never throw our fellow practitioners under the bus with their clients. We’re all doing the best we can with the tools we’ve cultivated.
By the end of both sessions, their resuscitated pain had been quelled by at least half and neither of them felt that a trip to the ER was imminent. Call it what you will; healing crisis, compensatory pain, comes with the territory, or par for the course, pain resulting from a massage session is the biggest, double-horse pill a therapist has to swallow. Don’t feel too bad about it because it happens to the best of us and always look to support your fellow therapist so they’ll do the same for you.