While massage therapy is becoming more accepted as an alternative means to managing physical pain from injuries and stress, the ability of massage therapy to decrease the usage of opioids for pain management is more recently being looked into.
With ever rising statistics of opioid addiction across the nation, it is important to know what other options of pain management are available and effective. While the best defense is avoiding the things that lead to issues like back and other pain (poor posture and body mechanics, bad workplace ergonomics), once the onset of pain occurs, there may be other means by which to alleviate at least some of the pain.
A regular stretching routine is of vital importance to chronic pain management. The muscles in your body are powerful and can often pull on joints causing postural and movement problems that are often the underlying cause of chronic pain. Tight muscles can also compress other sensitive tissues (i.e. nerves) causing restrictions and pain. Tonic muscles in the upper leg, for example, can cause dysfunction in the pelvis leading to chronic lower back pain. A regular stretching and massage routine to help release and relax these muscles can be quite effective in treating this kind of lower back pain.
Massage therapy should not just be considered a luxury treatment. It is medical therapy that dates back to ancient times and has been used by athletic teams and sports professionals for years. This therapy has been documented as having lasting effects on the body with no ill side effects or drug interaction. Properly applied, it helps improve circulation, decreases pain levels, increases range of motion and improves quality of life.
Earlier this year, the Center for Medicare Services printed new guidelines on medically approved non-opioid pain management and recommended that massage therapy be covered for pain management by insurance. In addition, 37 U.S. attorneys general called for the inclusion of massage therapy as a covered treatment option by all insurance companies. (revelation!) While still being studied, it is thought that the usage of massage therapy may help reduce pain levels associated with decreased usage of opioids in people looking to wean themselves off pain medications. More research is needed to evaluate what type and frequency of massage therapy that works best for this goal.
Opioid usage and addiction is a serious problem and many people wind up using opioids to manage their pain because they either cannot afford and/or do not understand alternative choices. Perhaps more generous insurance coverage for massage therapy, by those trained and licensed to administer it, would fill this need before resorting to the use of addictive drugs.
Jean Chamberlain, LMT, Modern Massage Works 610-444-5884
The holiday season is here, which means gift-giving is probably on your mind. In addition to making gifts to your family and friends, you also may be interested in contributing to charitable organizations. But before you donate financial assets, such as stocks, you will need to consider several factors, including taxes, your portfolio balance and the reputation of the charity. Let’s look at these areas:
Taxes – Your donations to qualified charities (those that are considered 501(c)(3) organizations by the Internal Revenue Service) can give you tax deductions – if you itemize deductions on your tax return. However, due to recent tax law changes, the standard deduction for 2018 has almost doubled, to $24,000 for married couples, and to $12,000 for single filers. As a result, you may be less likely to itemize deductions, so you could have less incentive, at least for tax reasons, to make charitable gifts. However, if you give appreciated stocks, you may be allowed a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the gift on the date of the transfer, even if your original cost was only a fraction of today’s value. Plus, you may not be subject to the capital gains tax you might have to pay if you eventually sold the stocks.
Also, depending on your age, you might be able to use your traditional IRA as a charitable-funding vehicle. Once you turn 70-1/2, you generally must begin taking withdrawals – called required minimum distributions or RMDs – from your traditional IRA. (Roth IRAs are not subject to RMDs during your lifetime.) These RMDs from your traditional IRA are taxable, but you may be able to exclude up to $100,000 of RMDs per year from your taxable income if you transfer the funds directly to qualified charitable organizations.
In any case, consult with your tax advisor before donating appreciated assets to a charity.
Portfolio balance – When you donate financial assets to a charity, you are also taking them away from your portfolio. This could be an issue, especially if you repeatedly donate the same types of assets. For example, if you’re donating some growth-oriented stocks, will you lower the overall growth potential of your portfolio?
You may want to consult with a financial professional to ensure your charitable gifts will still allow you to maintain a portfolio balance appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance.
Reputation of the charity – You may want to do some homework to make sure you are giving to a reputable charity. Many experts on charitable giving say that a worthwhile charity should spend at least 75 percent of its income on programs, rather than administrative costs. You may be able to find this type of information on a charitable group’s annual report and its website. You can also browse the web for the names of agencies that evaluate charitable groups.
By considering the aspects of charitable giving described above, you can get more satisfaction from your generosity – because you’ll know that your gift not only supports a good cause, but also fits well into your overall financial picture.