resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
July, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 07
Medical Conditions in Massage Practice, Part II: The Client in a Physician's Care
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
Thanks to better training and texts in the field, massage therapists tell me their knowledge of contraindications is growing. But many report gaps in knowing how to interview for contraindications and how to apply the answers in the session.In part one of this series, I wrote about my early attempts at interviewing and how that changed over time. I also offered an interview question - about client activity level and types of activities - with examples of the kinds of important information it can bring to light for the massage session (June 2005, www.massagetoday.com/archives/2005/06/04.html).
These articles offer all-purpose questions for the massage interview and examples of using the client's answers in massage design.
The task of interviewing clients for contraindications feels easy for some therapists, harder for others. Some tell me they rush through it to get to the hands-on session; others like to take their time. The massage setting can also influence the interview. In private practice, we have as long as we are comfortable scheduling with the each client. Many therapists allow an extra 15 to 30 minutes for a first-time session. In contrast, most spa and other high-volume settings (on-site, sports events, fundraising walks, etc.) allow for very little information gathering. Years ago I worked in a spa where we were taught to limit our intake to one question on the way from the greeting area to the treatment room: "Is there anything I should know about your health?" Many spa practitioners tell me this is still the limit of their questioning.
The problem with this question is that clients don't usually know what we're looking for or which health conditions are important to massage therapists. Indeed, some frustrated massage therapists tell me that they don't always know what they're looking for either. Our pathology and clinic training doesn't always prepare us for gathering information quickly, easily and thoroughly in a range of massage settings. From massage therapists I meet around the country, I am learning that given lists of contraindications, massage therapists don't always know how to interview for them. Given lists of interview questions, we are not necessarily taught how to use the answers.
As the profession develops, we will grow to understand our interviewing tasks more fully and be able to adapt them to the special challenges of different massage settings. I am confident that we will standardize brief, efficient interviews and protocols for higher-volume settings and more extensive intake practices for other settings. For now, here are some "umbrella" questions to ask every client, which should be added to any interview regardless of the setting in order to get a good health picture and design an appropriate massage for each person.
Are you currently (or have you recently been) in a physician's care?
For those in high-volume settings without forms or record keeping, this is a question to ask on the way to the table. Even if your setting allows forms and ample interviewing time, ask this of everyone. If your intake form includes a list of specific conditions, this is a good all-purpose question to catch any that are not listed. It might prompt a client to remember something he/she forgot to mention elsewhere on the form. Then you can apply appropriate massage contraindications.
This question leads to the first, most obvious follow-up question: "For what condition or complaint have you been seeing them?" Here you are looking for the diagnosed condition to determine massage contraindications and for the complaint that may have brought the client to the physician in the first place. For example, suppose a client has chronic acid reflux or constipation for which she is seeing a physician. If there are no specific questions on your form about digestion and elimination, the physician question may capture this. Reflux might dictate a change in the massage position - a surface slightly inclined toward the head - or bolstering in the side-lying position. Constipation, depending on the cause, may indicate reflexology or acupressure techniques, or even gentle abdominal strokes or contact.
Another, broader follow-up question might be, "Are you seeing any health practitioner regularly?" to spot conditions the client may be bringing to a chiropractor, acupuncturist or movement practitioner, for example. Here you might find out about his/her acupuncture treatment for headaches, dental treatment for TMJ, or chiropractic treatment for a chronic low-back injury. Answers can lead to collegial conversations with these professionals and to proper timing and coordination of treatments.
I know acupuncturists who ask their clients to let acupuncture "sit" for a day or two before following with other treatments such as massage. Massage therapy can be a useful adjunctive therapy for TMJ. The chiropractor would benefit from knowing the massage therapist's approach to the client's low-back issue. And in each of these cases, there might be contraindications or indications to massage therapy depending on the cause of each condition. If a number of diagnoses are possible, massage should be tailored to the most conservative of these: If doctors are looking at either arthritic changes or bone metastasis as a cause of pain in the low back, treat the area as though bone metastasis were the cause and avoid pressure and joint movement in the area until proven otherwise.
"What kind of diagnostic procedures are you undergoing (have you recently undergone)?" is another direction to go. The diagnostics question is useful for several reasons. It tells us what the client's other health care providers are concerned about: tumor as a cause of headache; fibroids as a cause of low back pain; stress aggravating stomach ache. This information is useful without memorizing lists of diagnostic tests. Instead, ask the client what is being investigated, and why. While some clients are more knowledgeable about their care than others, this question may yield clear contraindications or indications to massage. Massage therapists don't necessarily need to go to nursing school or medical school to understand their clients' medical status - they just need to figure out what other care providers are concerned about, then investigate their own field for any adaptations for massage.
Finally, a compelling reason to ask about a client's diagnostic procedures is simple interest in the client's life. Put simply, diagnostics are stressful. Sometimes painful, often requiring awkward positioning or holding still, some procedures aggravate muscle tension that we may be well equipped to relieve once we've followed suitable precautions. The long wait between test and result can be difficult, depending on the nature of the test and possible diagnosis. Our clients' experiences of their medical care can tell us not only where to avoid massage but also where to focus it and how to listen. I once worked with someone who had an MRI for a knee injury the day before. She was awaiting word on whether to have surgery. The MRI was hurried and the technician neglected to tell her when the test was starting. It began before she was comfortably positioned, and she had to hold perfectly still for 20 minutes. Already frazzled, this experience left her more worn out with tension in her hips and low back. The wait for the doctor's call was an anxious time. Careful massage of tense muscles and a listening ear helped her cope as she waited for word on her immediate future.
We handle the human body with care and attention, but we also interview with care and attention, which is as therapeutic as our hands-on services. We ask about another's experience of their body. Questions about their health care tell us something about the texture of our clients' days. These small questions ask, "What is it like to be you?" which can, in and of itself, be healing. A client's answers are as useful to our massage design as our own palpatory cues. At the same time, they can deepen our understanding and the compassion we bring to our work.
Editor's note: Look for part three of Tracy's series in the August 2005 issue.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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