resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
January, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 01
Medical Massage Therapy: The Search for Definition
By Gregory T. Lawton, DN, DC
Attempts to present and to define medical massage therapy vary from teacher to teacher and author to author. This article presents concepts related to medical massage therapy, a form of manual therapy routinely practiced by medical physicians and medical personnel during the 19th century.Medical massage therapy lost popularity in medical circles with the advent of the "drug era," along with many traditional forms of health care, such as midwifery and herbal medicine. State and national laws were developed which prohibited the legal practice of medical massage or natural health care for medical purposes. This government action resulted in the current condition of massage therapy as a lay practice based on esoteric principles and theory.
Currently, there is a movement within the massage profession to restore the historic medical applications of massage and manual therapy. Currently, most schools of massage therapy teach Swedish massage (also referred to as therapeutic massage) and/or variations of Swedish massage technique, or specialized systems of manual therapy such as shiatsu. Most of the western systems of conventional massage therapy, especially techniques taught in the United States, are based on the work of Per Henrik Ling, who formulated the general and relaxation techniques of Swedish massage (also referred to as therapeutic massage). In 1892, Emil Kleen, MD, PhD, author of Handbook of Massage commented on Ling and Swedish massage:
This "unfortunate defect" still plagues massage therapy, as there are very few studies that presently substantiate the medical claims of massage therapy. In addition, there are few massage therapists that have the doctoral or scientific credentials needed to study and present findings related to massage therapy research. In a research paper written by Justus J. Fiechtner, MD, MPH and Raymond R. Brocheur, DC, PhD ("Manual and manipulation techniques for rheumatic disease," published in Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, Volume 26, Number 1, February 2000), the authors state:
Conclusions regarding the effectiveness of massage therapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders or disease are largely based on subjective and empirical evidence presented by massage therapists over hundreds of years. While this collection of empirical evidence is large and impressive, it does not address the more scientifically refined questions regarding specific modalities of treatment directly applied to particular disease states.
Conventional medicine likes to offer the supposition that its therapies are all scientifically validated. On the contrary, much of standard medical practice, including commonly performed invasive techniques and drug therapies, are not well studied, and/or the mechanisms of their activity, effectiveness and safety are unknown. We can all recall "routine" medical practices and procedures that, although practiced for many years, are now either no longer performed or discouraged. New drugs are brought to the market place with studies that involved small trial groups; when approved and utilized by larger groups, their side effects lead to death, disease and removal from the market.
While massage therapy as a profession lacks the kind of scientific studies called for by medicine, massage therapy technique and treatment enjoy a long history -- over 11,000 years worldwide -- which allows for another kind of scientific evidence, based on the collective clinical observation of thousands of massage therapy practitioners from many global cultures. Clinical observation with the systematic collection of clinical data has long been a tool of science; indeed, it resulted in Edison's invention of the light bulb. In addition, studies on massage therapy usually involve the general and superficial techniques of Swedish massage. For example, a study might indicate in its abstract that patients with back pain received a "back massage." Medicine remains in this new millennium largely ignorant of the various techniques, school of techniques, and variety of treatment protocols that exist in the many forms that massage therapy is practiced. Most massage therapy professionals employ several different techniques, exercises and modalities in a typical patient treatment session, making it difficult to quantify the effects of a single technique. Future studies need to identify the specific techniques of different manual therapy systems, and study the exact clinical effects of those techniques.
Medical massage therapy, by the adoption of the qualifying word, "medical," should be able to demonstrate clinical results when placed under scientific scrutiny. This supposition is as yet unproven by conventional research. While limited studies do exist, and the data continues to increase regarding the generalized effects of Swedish massage, there are almost no studies on medical massage technique and protocol. The medical massage therapist must borrow from research data that has been performed in other manual therapy disciplines, such as orthopedic medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture, and studies on the biochemistry, physiology and histology of soft tissue structures of the body.
Medical training and research in the United States is largely subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry. The awarding of research grants is heavily influenced by the drug industry and medical bias. This situation has resulted in money being directed at finding the most profitable therapies rather than the most effective ones.
Massage therapy is experiencing a slow and gradual movement within the profession toward higher levels of academic standards, longer periods of study, entry into the profession by allied medical personnel, and acceptance into colleges, hospitals and medical clinics. However, there are few training programs in massage therapy schools that meet the needs of students of higher capacity and allied medical credentials.
The highly generalized format and techniques of Swedish massage, fringe massage and relaxation massage therapy do not meet the clinical needs of a medical or rehabilitation therapy environment. Lengthening the period of study within a training program does not address the need for a higher level of technique, clinical protocol, knowledge of the pathophysiological processes of connective tissue disease and disorders, and the application, formulation and delivery of sophisticated rehabilitation programs.
Medical massage therapy is emerging as a manual medicine system of treatment that does address the needs of a rehabilitation therapy environment. Medical massage therapy achieves this clinical criteria because:
Swedish or therapeutic massage employs generalized manual techniques such as gliding, kneading, striking, shaking, and friction. Medical massage utilizes these same movements as soft tissue pre-treatment preparation for the primary deep tissue and joint complex protocols that follow this general preparation. Medical massage deep tissue technique employs a relaxed hand technique referred to as the "soft hand." This hand technique allows deep tissue penetration without patient discomfort and without exacerbating the patient's condition. In addition, medical massage therapy utilizes patient anatomical positioning and soft tissue folding in order to reduce postural soft tissue tension and muscle contraction. Medical massage techniques combine manual therapy techniques directed at all connective tissue structures with joint mobilization techniques that "exercise" the deep internal joint complex tissues. These mobilization techniques, based on the normal physics of joint motion, include torque, shearing, accommodation and traction. The techniques of Cassel (osteopath) and Smith (naprapath) are also employed. The Cassel techniques include extremity shaking and release techniques; the Smith techniques involve the use of a bony lever and hand contact that move the joint and gently exercise and stimulate the ligaments of the joint.
Medical massage therapy is a highly specialized system of connective tissue rehabilitation based on theories and research regarding connective tissue healing and remodeling. This system of massage therapy recognizes that the joint complex and its attendant soft tissue structures, especially ligaments, are the primary sites of chronic pain and dysfunction, and that treatment of these structures must be directed at the soft tissue findings that result from diagnostic palpation. Treatment must be provided for the purpose of soft tissue and joint rehabilitation. In addition, therapeutic exercise, physiotherapeutic modalities, and patient education are combined in a treatment plan that identifies the appropriate frequency and duration of a therapy program. Medical massage therapy recognizes that clinical treatment for the goal of connective tissue rehabilitation must identify the cause of a problem and utilize direct manual technique to correct the cause of the problem.
All systems of manual and massage therapy share a common historical heritage. They are more than the mere sum of their parts - not simply "technique," but a synthesis of education, training, experience, dedication, humility, and intuition, expressed through the miraculous instrument, the human hand. Medical massage therapy is not so much a "new" approach to massage therapy as it is a "renewal" of the manual medicine practiced by many of the early European and Western medical pioneers of massage therapy.
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