resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
March, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 03
Working with Multiple Sclerosis Patients
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
You've done it again: I put out a request for input, and you came through in a big way. December's article on central nervous system dysfunction seemed to hit a cord with many therapists, so for the next couple of columns I will respond as best I can.(Editor's note: Ruth's December 2001 article is available on line at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/12/16.html.)
Although I had feedback on several issues related to central nervous system disorders, the majority of respondents requested information on multiple sclerosis (MS). This is a mysterious disorder; its population distribution is unusual, its progression is unpredictable, and its diagnosis is often a particular challenge. Patients with MS can benefit greatly from carefully managed massage, however, and most therapists probably have some clients who live with this disease.
This article will provide some brief information about how this disease develops and whom it affects, followed by a discussion of how various types of bodywork might and might not fit into the picture.
MS: who gets it? The highest incidence of MS is among Caucasian people who live in Northern or extreme Southern latitudes, or who lived there for the first 15 years of life. It is generally diagnosed in patients somewhere between 20 and 40 years old. Women are diagnosed with the disease approximately twice as frequently as men. It affects about 300 thousand Americans, with about nine thousand new diagnoses each year.
MS: what happens in the body? MS often works in cycles of inflammatory "flares" followed by periods of remission. During flares the myelin is damaged, probably by specific types of white blood cells, and is replaced by scar tissue. MS usually affects the optic nerve, brain stem, cerebellum, and spinal cord. During remission, inflammation subsides, and some regeneration of myelin may occur. In this way, MS patients may lose some neurological function during flares, but regain some or all of it during remission. The cause or causes of MS remain a mystery. Leading theories suggest that a combination of factors is at work: exposure to some pathogen that stimulates an ongoing immune system attack, environmental factors, and genetic predisposition may all be part of the picture. At this point no specific genetic, environmental, or pathogenic factors can reliably predict the incidence of multiple sclerosis.
MS: what does it look like? This disease is sometimes called The Great Imitator because its initial symptoms can look like a variety of other diseases, depending on what area of nerve tissue has been affected. The order with which symptoms appear also varies greatly from one person to the next. Some of the most dependable signs and symptoms include:
MS: how does it progress? The progression of MS is highly unpredictable. It has a few characteristic patterns, but some patients move from one pattern type to others within their disease process. Some of the basic patterns are as follows:
MS may also present as a combination of the R/R and P/P varieties.
MS is not a terminal disease in and of itself. MS sufferers generally have a lifespan about six years shorter than the average, although that statistic may improve as new medications prolong the time between flares and limit central nervous system damage. People who die prematurely from MS are usually immobile, and they fall prey to an opportunistic disease such as a kidney infection, urinary tract infection or pneumonia.
MS: what about massage? This is where it gets interesting. I've received letters from some people asking, "what do I do for this type or that...?" and letters from others saying, "I've had success with this approach..." I couldn't be happier to put all of this information together here in this article.
First of all, let me offer some words of warning. In its acute, or "flare" stage, MS is an inflammatory condition. True, the inflammation is happening in the CNS where we don't have access, but the general rule for massage and acute inflammation is to let it pass.
During an MS exacerbation, the body has a lot of activity to process. In my opinion (and absolutely anyone is invited to disagree), I think it's a better idea to let the dust settle before adding any more input in the form of massage. Some varieties of energetic work may be appropriate during MS flares, as long as the process is respected and the client is not overwhelmed or overchallenged by the stimulus being supplied.
During remission, however, we have a different story. The level of function a person achieves during remission depends on the severity of the flare, and how deeply the myelin was affected. If it was only a superficial attack, the damaged myelin may grow back and no permanent changes may occur. If it was a more intrusive flare, however, some amount of permanent damage may accrue to the nerve tissue, resulting in muscle weakness, sensory changes including parasthesia ("pins and needles"), or even complete numbness. This is where massage (as well as other therapeutic modalities) may have a profoundly positive impact. While we generally say, "if a client can't feel it, we shouldn't try to change it," some massage therapists have found that working deeply and specifically on the antagonistic muscle groups of isolated numb or weak muscles of MS clients yields exciting results.
Here is what one therapist (Jim McFarland of Virginia) has found:
Another reader, Michael Eisenberg of Washington State shared with me that Thai massage, which he describes as being just as beneficial to give as it is to receive, has helped him to manage his own MS:
And yet another reader has a client with very advanced MS who has lost most of the function in his legs. This is what she has to say:
All of these wonderful stories point in the same direction: massage has a lot to offer clients who live with MS, as long as some basic principles are kept in mind: avoid mechanical or manipulative work during periods of flare; respect numbness; only work deeply where the client has sensation; and monitor your results carefully so that you can continue to make positive choices for your client's needs.
Readers who are interested in learning more about MS, either for themselves or for their clients, would do well to visit this website: www.mic.ki.se/Diseases/. This site has an extensive list of recent articles on just about any disease you could think of. MS is listed under Neurological Diseases as a demyelinating disease.
In next month's article, I plan to discuss another aspect of CNS dysfunction: working with spinal cord injury survivors. I've had several questions from readers about "do's" and "don'ts" for these clients; what advice do you have for massage therapists?
Ruth Werner, LMT, NCTMB
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.