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TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
A Well-Kept Secret: 5 Element Acupuncture, Part II
Supervising acupuncture interns at a TCM college, it has always struck me how funny it is to hear the clinic manager tell the patients that the Five Element clinic specializes in treating emotions, as if patients with physical pain have no emotions!
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
September, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 09
The Evolving Practice of Breast Massage
By Kate Jordan, NCTMB
I was intrigued by a course entitled: "Making the Case for Breast Massage" at the most recent annual meeting of the California Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association. Intrigued, I confess, because I didn't know that a case needed to be made.In my own practice, I regularly perform therapeutic modalities on the breasts of pregnant and nursing mothers; on women who have had breast reduction or augmentation; and on women who have endured mastectomy or breast cancer treatment. However, since my early days as a massage therapist, it had never occurred to me that there might be a rationale, much less a mandate, for well-breast massage.
The issues surrounding the applications of breast massage are numerous, ranging from legal to medical, to therapist comfort and competence, to protection of the consumer. These issues also spotlight some of the confusion in our emerging profession about the purpose and scope of practice of massage therapy and bodywork.
When I was first introduced to massage in the early 1970s, two mass-market books, George Downings' Massage Book and Gordon Inkeles' The Art of Sensual Massage, described the use of gentle effleurage strokes over undraped breasts as a part of relaxation massage on the anterior torso. This approach was also used at the Esalen Institute in Northern California. When I began to practice, however -- at a medical clinic and a health club in Phoenix; in a spa in Honolulu; and later in the decade, when teaching at a new massage school in San Diego -- it was a given that the breasts would be draped, primarily to conform to local and state regulations.
Over the years, and with continued training, I developed expertise in treating various dysfunctions related to the breast, but never taught any form of breast massage to students -- it seemed to be an area of the body riddled with pitfalls. When Dianne Polseno Crawford surveyed a representative sample of massage therapists in 1997, she found that while 45% reported receiving some training in breast massage, only 9% reported performing it on a regular basis. In an informal survey of massage schools throughout the country, Crawford reported that only 10% were teaching any kind of breast massage.
One of the primary barriers to the teaching of appropriate breast massage is the prohibition in state and local laws in most jurisdictions of any touching of the breasts. Some states, like Washington, do allow therapeutic breast massage with informed client consent. In my own city of San Diego, recently enacted legislation specifies no prohibited body areas for practitioners who have more extensive training than the minimum required for a massage license. These legal barriers to breast massage result from massage therapy's shadow-side -- its link to prostitution and adult entertainment. Hannah Hanlon, who teaches breast massage courses throughout the United States, caused such controversy in advertising her course in North Carolina that she was banned from teaching in that state. As standards for the education and practice of massage therapists are elevated, it's possible that there will be more latitude given in state laws to appropriate touch in currently restricted anatomical areas.
The American Massage Therapy Association does not have a specific policy regarding breast massage, and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals "discourages" its members from providing breast massage unless they have advanced training and work in a jurisdiction permitting it. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork addresses the issue of breast massage in its Standards of Practice. It provides that certificants can "only provide therapeutic breast massage as indicated in the plan of care, and only after receiving informed voluntary consent from the client." This position provides an ethical framework and scope of practice for those individuals who become nationally certified, but is irrelevant in states that restrict the practice.
What is the status of breast massage in the United States? Who is using it, and for what purpose? I did an internet search for "breast massage" and found, along with the few "adult" sites that appeared, that there were sites that promoted breast massage as a cancer preventive; "wellness" breast massage; massage for breast augmentation; breast massage to prevent adhesions after implant surgery; self-massage to promote lactation in nursing mothers; and therapeutic lymphatic massage to treat lymphedema. These sites ranged from do-it-yourself websites, to plastic surgeons, to the American Cancer Society.
In Europe, where breast exposure is not taboo, lymphatic drainage massage and Bindegewebsmassage are used on the breasts in clinical settings. It is the rare therapist in the United States who does so.
In Canada, where massage training in most provinces is more extensive and clinical than in the U.S., therapists are taught protocols to deal with breast discomfort, dysfunction, trauma, and disease. Debra Curties, the executive director of the Sutherland-Chan School in Toronto, has been one of the leading proponents and teachers of clinical breast massage in North America. She has written extensively about the many potential barriers that may face therapists contemplating providing breast massage as a client service. They may, for example, feel personal discomfort with manipulating breast tissue because of its sexualization in American society.
Hannah Hanlon has reported that when teaching co-ed classes in breast massage, men and gay women seem more comfortable with the learning experience than heterosexual women, who may feel embarrassed and squeamish about touching either their own, or another woman's breasts. Many men, however, are understandably concerned about boundary issues in cross-gender massage. There is considerable uncertainty among many therapists about the purpose of and potential value derived from breast massage, especially the "wellness" or prevention model.
Public perception of the components of a massage therapy session, and individual client issues and concerns, can impact a therapist's desire to perform breast massage. Does the client have adequate boundaries? Has the client been sufficiently informed about, and is able to consent to breast massage? Does the therapist feel safe in providing breast massage for the particular client?
Hannah Hanlon has written that "breast massage has been regarded at best, as an integrative measure in a holistic alternative therapy, or at worst, as an invasive and abusive undertaking, if offered without informed consent in the hands of a therapist lacking experience or integrity." This is the crux of the issues surrounding breast massage. Breast massage administered by massage therapists will be more readily accepted by the public if its medical rationale and physiologic basis are spelled out for clients, and if therapists receive adequate training in its psychological ramifications and the appropriate use of specific techniques to promote breast health and address dysfunction.
This kind of educational outreach can only be provided by therapists who receive comprehensive training in breast massage. Unfortunately, even the most competent, effective practitioners will not be able to address the needs of the female population in the presence of laws that prohibit touching of the breasts.
In my next column, I will address the indications for breast massage and the specific techniques that have been developed to address both "normal" and dysfunctional breasts.
In the interest of a national dialogue, I would like to hear the experiences of therapists who currently practice breast massage (as a part of a full-body session or as separate modality), and the reactions and comments of therapists who do not.
Click here for previous articles by Kate Jordan, NCTMB.
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