resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Art of Listening
One of the most important clinical concepts for me was voiced by the legendary physician William Osler. "Listen to your patient, he/she is telling you the diagnosis." After treating literally thousands of patients, it can become almost second nature to quickly discover clues which reveal the underlying diagnosis.
The Value of Melatonin in Breast Cancer Prevention and Adjunctive Treatment
Although melatonin (MLT) is best known for its sleep-aid properties and as a natural remedy to prevent jet lag, extensive experimental studies suggest it possesses anticancer activity through several biological mechanisms.
Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators: 21st Century Inflammation Fighters
Specialized pro-resolving mediators, or SPMs, are a portion of the omega-3 fatty-acid spectrum that have been shown to have a powerful effect on reducing inflammation.
Day in the Life of an Advanced-Practice DC
Can you tell us a little about your background in the profession? Why did you want to become a DC? I studied at Boston University from 1968-1972 as a pre-med student majoring in biology.
The Rest of the Patient Story
I've written previously about allowing a patient to tell you their story – about taking the time to listen and engage all the aspects of their case history, the injury in question, and the related issues.
Health and Wellness Partnership
Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and The Wellness Center at the LAC + USC Historic General Hospital recently joined forces to extend care to the residents of Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
News in Brief
Northwestern Student Honored for Addressing Concussions Head-On; Northwestern Announces New CFO; Life U. to Provide Unique Opportunity.
F4CP Launches New Social Media Campaign
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has launched a new service to help member doctors: a social media campaign called "Accelerator."
Transparency is Key at ASA First Annual Meeting
On March 4th and 5th the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) held a successful first annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Constructing Our Reality: The Primary Channels and Perception, Part 1
My favorite topic of discussion within Chinese medicine is the acupuncture channel systems. First of all, each of us have them. They are part of our bodies; not something external to us. To learn about the acupuncture channels is to learn about ourselves.
Let's Streamline Your Front Desk
Your front office can be your greatest source of efficiency or a constant bottleneck. Increasing the productivity of this area without sacrificing the quality of patient interaction can be a little tricky.
Asking Patients the Right Questions
When was the last time you asked a patient a question? Maybe 30 seconds ago? But, are you asking the right questions to elicit valuable and useful information? As a healthcare provider, you've likely spent hundreds of hours learning to ask the right questions to gather critical health information from your patients.
Misconceptions & Opportunities With Medicare
As I speak around the country on how to properly document Medicare patient encounters, I get questions regarding opting out of Medicare. There are many misconceptions about opting out of Medicare, including just what it means to opt out.
An Interview with Amanda Shayle
JW: Can you share with us some of your history and how you became an acupuncturist? What did you do prior to becoming an acupuncturist? Where did you go to school?
How Many of Your Patients Have Sarcopenia?
Figure 1 demonstrates the typical appearance of sarcopenia in the paravertebral muscles. Have you considered evaluating your patients for this problem? Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and function that affects the older population.
NCCAOM Launches New Membership Organization
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) recently launched a new national membership organization, the NCCAOM Academy of Diplomates.
Designing a Fitness Plan (Part 4): Blending Pain Relief With Healthy Aging
Pain relief is still the No. 1 reason patients come to my office. However, most of my patients have other goals as well, such as: "I want to lose 10 to 20 pounds"; "I feel old and want to slow down the aging process"; "My doctor says I am becoming a diabetic and need to exercise"; or "I'm tired and want more energy."
Identify & Adjust the Apex Posterior Sacrum
Low back pain involving an apex posterior sacrum (+θX-axis misalignment) typically presents with signs of lumbosacral joint impingement or facet syndrome.
Building Relationships and Referral Networks with Allopathic Practitioners
Dr. Doug, an orthopedist of 20 years, had heard stories from patients who tried acupuncture. While he was able to address many of their complaints effectively, some appeared to gain additional benefit when their care included TCM.
An Alarming Lack of Accountability
Accountability seems to be a lost quality today. The simple act of taking responsibility and doing the right thing just doesn't happen as often as it should. Maybe it is the litigious nature of our society.
Energy: For Life and For Death
Energy is a deep topic in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is understood to underlie all of existence, animated or not, and the qi of the living is studied with special attention.
Excited to Share the Science of Chiropractic: An Interview With Dr. Heidi Haavik
Dr. Heidi Haavik has become known in the circle of chiropractic researchers as not only a rising star, but also one willing to do research that can have a major impact in the scientific world and how chiropractic is perceived.
Filling the Gap: The Role of Alternative Practitioners in a Broken Health Care System
I have been asked many times what got me into alternative medicine. My answer is simple: I want to truly help and make a difference in people's health.
March, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 03
Prenatal Massage and Pre-Treatment Evaluations
By Elaine Stillerman, LMT
In addition to learning what to do to support your pregnant/postpartum clients and relieve their common discomforts, part of the prenatal professional training must include how to recognize when a massage should not be provided. And part of the dialogue that you have to establish with your clients is that when you feel a massage should be postponed until after they have been checked by their care providers, you mean it and stand behind your decision. It is not easy to tell a deserving client that her much-coveted massage is not going to happen, but if your pretreatment evaluations are positive, that is the only safe and responsible choice you can make.
But upon what standards or guidelines do you base your decision? The answer comes from understanding prenatal and postpartum anatomy and physiology. By the end of the pregnancy, most women have an increase of up to 40 percent more interstitial fluid. This excess fluid generally pools in her extremities, especially the legs and feet. In most cases, this "gravity" edema can be treated effectively with manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) and elevation of her legs. And although the swelling can be extensive due to poor posture, poor diet, excessive sodium in the foods she eats, standing a great deal during the day, weather conditions, and restrictive clothing to name a few contributing factors, it poses no health risk. Appropriate massage (MLD) will reduce the swelling by enhancing lymph absorption.
Assessing Serious Conditions
There are times, however, when the swelling is a symptom of a more serious condition - preeclampsia. This hypertensive condition is extremely dangerous for mother and her baby. Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by swelling of the face, hands, and feet, elevated blood pressure, excessive fluid retention, and protein in the urine. It is sometimes accompanied by severe headaches (or migranes) with or without optical "floaters." If preeclampsia is suspected or confirmed, all massage must be avoided until her blood pressure stabilizes and her care provider affirms that she and her baby are out of danger.
In order to test for the presence of this potentially life-threatening illness, we assess the swelling by pressing on the lowest part of each leg, just above the ankle. Press for a count of 5. If the indentation does not fill, or remains pitting, and the ischemic region does not appear red again within 10-30 seconds, massage is contraindicated and the client must see her care provider immediately. Some women develop preeclampsia during postpartum recovery, so the test for pitting edema must continue for the first six weeks, or during the puerperium recovery.
In order to protect against hemorrhaging during childbirth, pregnant women produce more blood clots. During the second trimester, there is an increase in the synthesis of plasma fibrinogen (coagulating factors VII, VIII, IX, X, and fibrinogen) that continues throughout the first few months (8-10 weeks) of postpartum. The potential in blood clot formation (thromboembolism) is five to sixfold during pregnancy and up to three months postpartum. These clots primarily appear in the deeper veins of the legs: the femoral, iliac, and saphenous veins. In order to prevent dislodging these clots, the safest and most effective modality to employ is, once again, MLD.
The risk factors for clots during pregnancy include a sedentary lifestyle, being confined to bed rest, a maternal age of 30 or older, being over-weight, having an autoimmune disease like lupus, and being pregnant with the fourth (or more) child. In addition, clots may develop because of the weight of the gravid uterus slowing iliac and femoral circulation, sluggish blood flow, venous stasis, increased blood volume, and higher levels of progesterone relaxing the smooth muscle fibers. (Although many of these changes reverse soon after childbirth, fibrinogenic activity doesn't normalize until 8-10 weeks postpartum.)
Illness and death from venous thromboembolism occur 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 2,000 pregnant and postpartum women. These figures do not reflect deaths which occur after the traditional 6-week recovery period.
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT), which occurs mostly in the left leg and its resultant pulmonary embolism are the leading causes of preventable in-hospital mortality in the United States. In general (not necessarily related to pregnancy and postpartum), the signs of DVT are commensurate with the degree of blockage in the vein and inflammation of the vessel wall. Many people, including those who are pregnant, are asymptomatic, but it is important to evaluate both legs before massaging your pregnant or postpartum mother for the signs that we can assess.
Surgeries, like Cesarean sections, increase the risk of thromboemboli and the sequelae of a pulmonary embolism. After surgery, most clots occur in the left leg, although both legs must be evaluated.
While lightly placing your hand(s) down the back of her leg (you can perform this before she gets on the treatment table or through the sheet with your client lying on her side), palpate for localized unilateral swelling, heat, pain (which occurs only 50 percent of the time), tenderness on the over-lying dermatome (50 percent of the time), muscle contraction, and possible redness. Keep in mind that the edematous leg will feel hot all over; remember that you are feeling for localized symptoms. In addition, her legs will feel hotter around the joints where the fluid tends to aggregate and in areas where the veins are superficial like the backs of her knees or her ankles.
The second test is specifically for the calf muscles and evaluates the presence of clots in the saphenous vein. However, this Homan sign or Homan check is present in less than one-third of patients with confirmed DVT and is positive in more than 50 percent of patients without DVT, so it is nonspecific. Still, it is a relatively fair barometer to use. With her leg extended, flex her knee to about 5 degrees. Dorsiflect (bend or flex backward) her foot. Any sharp pain in her calf may indicate a positive result. If you suspect that a blood clot is present, do not massage and refer her to her care provider immediately.
To effectively use these pretreatment evaluations, let your pregnant (postpartum) clients know that you will be doing them before each treatment. Once you become proficient, they will take less than one minute to do collectively. If you suspect pitting edema or the presence of a blood clot, explain this to your client in a calm manner and suggest that she seek immediate medical confirmation. I usually suggest that these evaluations are not absolute medical diagnoses but rather indicate that caution should be exercised, and massage should not take place. Instead, I offer my clients an opportunity to book another appointment, once the situation has been addressed, "on the house." However, it never fails that my clients return and pay, regardless of my offer.
Make these pretreatment evaluations a part of your prenatal/postpartum practice. You will feel more confident about giving the massage and your clients will be grateful that you are taking appropriate care of them and their babies.
Click here for previous articles by Elaine Stillerman, LMT.
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