resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
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.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
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.
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.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
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.)
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
January, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 01
Introduction, With a Response to AMMA
By James "Doc" Clay, MMH, NCTMB
Clinical massage therapy has been around a comparatively long time.(Ben Benjamin has certainly been practicing it quite a while.) The various schools of myofascial release are clinical in intent. Bonnie Prudden, after being treated by Dr. Janet Travell, published a number of books and established her system of myotherapy. The Rolfers, Hellerworkers, and CORE myofascial therapists, with their approaches to structural alignment, practice what has to be considered a type of clinical bodywork.
Clinical massage therapy/bodywork is the product of a number of converging streams. The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who began as a disciple of Freud, postulated the expression of character in body structure, and was certainly one of the first to develop an approach to treating mind and body together. Dr. Reich's system lives on in bioenergetics, an approach developed by his student, Alexander Lowen. Ida Rolf pioneered the manual treatment of the fascia to restructure the body. Traditional massage therapy began to expand to address specific pain problems. Travell and Simons explored myofascial trigger points and pain. Osteopaths such as Leon Chaitow contributed many procedures and techniques from the osteopathic tradition. We are heirs to all these ideas and practices that came before us, and are putting them together in a "bodywork synthesis"called clinical massage therapy.
But the perceptions of the public in general, and the medical profession in particular, have been limited largely to relaxation massage. I recently talked with Dr. Kathi Kemper, a pediatrician and the author of The Holistic Pediatrician, about massage therapy and pediatrics. She's quite interested in the topic, and thoroughly familiar with the work of Dr. Tiffany Field at the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami Medical Center, but I found it nearly impossible to interest her in the effects of clinical massage therapy in the treatment of specific problems of myofascial pain and dysfunction (I haven't stopped trying!). Neonatologists know how effective massage is for helping premature babies gain weight, but pediatricians in general are utterly ignorant of the effectiveness of clinical massage therapy for treating headaches, earaches, and other childhood problems with myofascial components.
There are signs that the situation is changing. Recent articles have reported favorably on the effectiveness of clinical massage therapy for such problems as low back pain and neck pain, one even appearing in Reader's Digest. (I strongly recommend that anyone interested in keeping up with such studies subscribe to the newsletters from WebMD.com - they report such items on a regular basis.) Perhaps we needed some time for the public to become comfortable with massage therapy in general, before they were ready to accept clinical massage therapy as an option for pain treatment.
The purpose of this column is not to deal with clinical issues themselves - that's what we have Ben Benjamin for - but to address the variety of issues confronting clinical massage therapy as it develops and evolves. I want to do this in an interactive way, by soliciting your input. What do you think the issues are? What are your opinions about various aspects of the discipline we will have to deal with as therapists? How does clinical massage therapy differ from traditional relaxation massage in such areas as:
My decision to write a column on clinical massage therapy was well-timed, as it followed the publication of the American Medical/Manual Massage Association's (AMMA) guidelines for a medical massage curriculum in the September 2002 issue of Massage Today. This first column is an ideal place to reflect on that article. I find much in it to agree with, such as the recommendation for more thorough training in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, more intensive clinical exposure during training, internships in clinical settings, and a greater emphasis on problem-oriented therapy. However, I also found a number of points to take issue with.
1) I've heard the term "medical massage" used for several years, and have never been quite comfortable with it, for a variety of reasons. In Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment, I wrote:
Not only has our field rediscovered and revived a number of therapeutic techniques from the distant past and borrowed many techniques from other disciplines, we have taken advantage of our independence from traditional health care to explore and develop new techniques and new ways of understanding and applying old techniques. I can't help feeling that the use of the word "medical" in designating our profession betrays a desire to enhance our prestige by diving headlong into the medical field. We have seen what has happened to physical therapy as a result of just such a merger: the stifling of creativity and imagination. Although there are many outstanding and creative physical therapists in practice, the vast majority have been inexorably absorbed into the black hole of insurance and managed care, and have succumbed to the pressure to work "by the book." If we are to continue to explore and discover, and increase our effectiveness through creativity, we would do well to maintain our independence from more traditional disciplines.
2) AMMA may have already crossed that line. The article suggests that the training proceed from one body part to the next, learning the anatomy and typical pathology of each area before proceeding to the next area. The examples used are first the hand, then the elbow. Surely the authors are aware that most problems of the wrist and hand are traceable to muscles in the forearm, some of which cross the elbow - not to mention the common possibility of pain in the hand referred from the shoulder or chest! Yet we find the statement, "The medical massage treatment model is, however, neither a 'medical model,' nor is it 'allopathic.' Since it is massage therapy, the medical model is based on a natural and holistic philosophy of care." But the description we are given of a suggested curriculum is entirely reductionistic. Massage is not inherently holistic, and calling something holistic does not make it so. I see no reference anywhere in the article to posture as a causative or aggravating factor in myofascial pain, yet even the most authoritative physicians in the field of myofascial pain and dysfunction, Janet Travell, David Simons, and Robert Gerwin attribute a great deal of responsibility in this area to posture. I believe that most massage therapists are committed to a holistic view of health and the body, but such a view is not apparent in the AMMA statement.
3) The article says that, "Currently, massage education is fixated on 'hours in training,'" and later that "Time in training is not the central factor in developing good medical massage therapists; it is simply one factor." I certainly agree with that concept. However, a quick trip to AMMA's Web site (www.americanmedicalmassage.com), reveals that graduation from a 600-hour program is a requirement for membership in AMMA. Why 600 hours? Most programs I have come across span 500 to 600 hours, and I'm quite certain that most therapists practicing clinically are essentially self-taught, having gained the necessary knowledge and experience after massage school by attending workshops, reading books, watching videos, and working with clients. Among them are probably outstanding clinicians, but they would be ineligible for membership in AMMA.
4) AMMA tells us that, "It is important that the techniques and treatment protocols being taught conform to current and correct applications of medical massage therapy." What are those techniques and protocols? Is the jury already in? Am I to understand that all the research is done, all the exploration finished, our knowledge complete, and we now have a set of "techniques and treatment protocols" that are not only current, but even "correct?" Why wasn't I told? Since I'm just beginning work on my textbook on advanced clinical massage therapy, I hope someone will let me know about this. I'd hate to suggest incorrect approaches.
I find this statement from AMMA frightening. It suggests that we are in a great hurry to become frozen, petrified, closed-minded and institutionalized as a profession. And we should be duly warned that, if "correct" clinical techniques are established beyond question, we are not professionals, but technicians.
5) Finally, I can't overlook the article's reference to a "sore bicep [sic] muscle." Whether on the arm (biceps brachii) or the leg (biceps femoris), the singular of the word is "biceps" (the plural, in the unlikely event you should ever need it, is "bicipites") - there is no such word as "bicep." Perhaps that seems niggling and pedantic, but words are important, and for a group that emphasizes technical education, it's a point worth making.
It really isn't my intention to start a fight with AMMA. I encourage them, and I wish them well. But it is my intention to start (and maintain) an open conversation, because what we are doing is far too important to be left to a single individual or group to dominate or dictate. Having offered my criticisms this month, I will devote my next column to my own thoughts and ideas about clinical massage therapy education and standards, and welcome any feedback. Meanwhile, primum non nocere, and keep an open mind.
Click here for more information about James "Doc" Clay, MMH, NCTMB.
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