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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
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?."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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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