resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.)
December, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 12
Body Art: Tattoos and Piercings
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
A couple of years ago, I was teaching a class about massage and the parasympathetic effect. To make my point, I stood behind a student, put my hands on her trapezius and then began to do some gentle petrissage through her sweater.Chatting blithely away about blood vessel dilation, changes in breathing, and dropping blood pressure, I failed to notice that this poor, polite student was not enjoying her massage. She was wincing, tightening up and leaning away. When I finally noticed and asked her what was going on, she said she had just had a big tattoo put on her shoulders. The whole class gasped in sympathy.
On a related topic, a reader named Tamra sent me this note: "I was standing behind a person in the grocery store with surgical steel ball implants in her cervical area (bilaterally) from about C3 to C7, in what would be considered the lamina groove. I wondered as I was standing there: If she were my client and she had neck pain, what would I do? How would I treat her? I had no answers, only avocados."
I know that I am a good deal older than many of my peers in the massage profession, and I freely confess to being a bit of a fogey about body art. I was so grateful that the threat, "Whatever you have pierced, I'll have pierced. And then I'll show all your friends," worked on my children and I never had to shop for a navel ring. That said, for many people tattoos, piercings and other physical modifications are a mode of self-expression that is important and deeply meaningful. While, like anything, body art can be abused, it can also be very creative and empowering. In the words of Andy Barnett, a professional piercer and tattoo artist, "I want to adorn the body, not mutilate it."
Many of us have clients with various forms of body art. Under some circumstances this can require some adjustments in our work. This article offers a brief primer on tattoos and piercings, the challenges that they may pose for massage, and strategies that can help us be safe and effective practitioners in this context.
Tattoos are pictures drawn on the skin through shallow injections of colored ink. Tattoo artists use tiny needles and a rapidly pulsating machine to deposit the ink just under the skin. Standards for hygiene in licensed tattoo studios are high, so the risk of infection from contaminated equipment is minimal. With "garage artists," this is not always the case, meaning blood-borne infections like HIV, or hepatitis B or C can be spread this way.
The dyes in tattoo ink can be a problem for some people. While inks are safer than they used to be, a lack of regular oversight means that not all inks are hypoallergenic. Allergic reactions are rare, but not unheard of. Because they most often occur in reaction to any color in the red family, new tattoo clients may be counseled to begin using red in small amounts until they know how they'll react. Reactions can cause itching, blisters and bumps (called granulomas) around the edges of a tattoo.
A person with a new tattoo is usually counseled to cover it for a day, avoid submerging it in water for up to two weeks, and rub it frequently with ointment and then with unscented lotion to promote speedy healing. New tattoos involve compromised skin - an obvious contraindication for massage. After the initial tenderness subsides, many people experience intense itching for a few days. This is another caution for massage, which can make itching worse by drawing blood to an area. The safest course in this situation is to wait for any pain and itching to resolve before doing massage in an area with a new tattoo.
Piercings are self-evident, and the variety of body parts that are pierced continues to expand. I remember being both shocked and vastly curious the first time we had a massage student with a nipple ring. (In my own defense, I will point out that these were the days when it was daring to have more than one hole in an earlobe.)
Piercings involve using a special needle to penetrate the skin. Various types of instruments are then inserted into the opening and secured from both sides. The piercing heals when scar tissue forms a tunnel around the instrument. The young woman Tamra described had several long instruments that were inserted to reach horizontally under her skin across the back of her neck.
Depending on the site, piercings can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to heal completely. At that time, jewelry can be removed and replaced easily. (There's the answer to Tamra's question, by the way: She can take the studs out of her neck to receive massage, if necessary.) Most piercing jewelry is made of surgical steel. Surface piercings, like those on the young woman with the nape studs, have a relatively high rejection rate, but they tend to be most successful when the jewelry is made of surgical-grade Teflon or acrylic, which can conform to the body's curvature. While piercings are healing, the person is advised to keep the area clean and avoid letting anything like hair or clothing catch on the jewelry.
The size of the jewelry is an important safety factor. If it is too short, it can be drawn into the skin, and if it is too long, it can create unnecessary friction as it rubs on nearby structures. Tongue studs that are the wrong size are notorious, for instance, for causing damage to teeth and gums. Other risks with piercings include the possibility of excessive scar tissue or keloids, or trauma if the jewelry is torn out.
Guidelines for massage in the context of piercings are clear: New piercings involve injured skin and must be locally avoided until the lesion has scarred over. On the other hand, older piercings pose no contraindications, and the jewelry can be removed to make massage more effective whenever necessary.
Many thanks to Tamra, who posed this interesting question, and to Andy Barnett of Frankie's Tattoo in Clearfield, Utah, who generously allowed himself to be interviewed for this article. For next time, the floor is once again open. We can continue in this vein with additional information about body art (implants, braiding, scarification, etc.), or we can pick up something entirely different. It's up to you: What's on your table?
Until then, many thanks and many blessings.
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
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