resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
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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