resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
February, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 02
Cancer, Treatment and Detoxification
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
Some time ago, a client going through intense chemotherapy treatment asked me if deep massage would help her cleanse the drugs from her system. She had read about a number of liver cleansing protocols that suggested very deep massage to facilitate the process of elimination.Her question touched on a number of issues in the oncology massage world and there were several layers to my response to her. I share my answers here, because the issues are relevant for our many clients in chemotherapy.
The Effects of Massage
In the massage profession, we have learned, read, taught and repeated the belief that massage helps move toxins out of the tissues and out of the body. However, we have not always been clear on which toxins, from which tissues, or through which routes of elimination. Almost any substance in the blood, even a nutrient, can be considered toxic if there is too much of it in the blood or tissues, so our use of the term is ambiguous. I once had a physician on my table that was a huge fan of massage therapy, but told me that the profession's liberal use of the word toxin always made him uncomfortable. Invariably, when he asked a massage therapist what the term meant, he received vague, unsatisfactory answers.
Our use of the word toxin seems to imply a waste product or poison that shouldn't be there. In the realm of chemotherapy, the reagents and products of breakdown are known to be toxic, so at least we are on more definitive ground there. But to my knowledge, there is no solid base of research to support the notion that massage moves toxins out of the tissues. By solid, I mean more than a single study. Instead, to be given serious consideration, we need multiple studies, from multiple investigators, in peer-reviewed publications, reporting similar results on this point.
That said, my client was talking about chemotherapy and wanting to eliminate chemotherapy drugs from her body. These medications and their metabolites do have toxic qualities which is why they are used to destroy tumors.
She was suffering greatly from the effects of these toxins she wanted them gone, period. I told her there wasn't much known about the effects of massage in the toxin department, so I couldn't say whether deep effleurage and petrissage would, in fact, speed it out of her system. I also told her I had other concerns about the detoxification approach, which I have described here.
The Intent of Massage
When we work with clients in chemotherapy, our intent is to ease symptoms and support our clients in integrating and managing the effects of treatment. For this reason, we do not impose additional challenges to the body by working it too hard (MacDonald, 2007). So I told my client that even if we knew for sure that deep massage strokes would chase the drugs out of her system more quickly, we wouldn't necessarily choose that approach.
Instead, it makes more sense to let the body set its own pace of detoxification. The organs of detoxification -- the liver, kidneys and skin -- are busy enough without the potential additional demand of a deep, draining, circulatory massage. I told my client that, even without research or clear understanding about massage and detoxification, this is our rationale for working gently.
Additional support for this gentle approach comes from our clinical observations: When clients in chemotherapy receive deep work, they feel worse, not better, afterward. Whatever the reason for that, deep massage is too much for them. These clinical observations inform our practice much more than any attempt to explain them.
A Good Referral
My client continued to press me about what I thought she should do after chemotherapy. She asked about a number of detoxification protocols involving ingesting large amounts of salt water and other substances. They had to do with cleansing the colon and liver. I listened, but stayed neutral. I told her I couldn't advise her either way, it was out of my scope of practice. I told her she had great questions, but that I thought such practices would be safest if done under the supervision of a naturopathic physician or another physician experienced in natural medicine after chemotherapy. And I urged her to raise her questions with her doctor and chemotherapy nurse.
These referrals gave her somewhere to go with her questions and her urge to detoxify. At the same time, I managed to stay within my scope of practice. This can be challenging when our clients ask us for our opinions and advice and these questions come up a lot when we have a whole hour available to our clients. It is important to navigate them in an unbiased way, with supportive listening and good referrals. In the end, this can be a great service to our clients.
Gloving for Chemotherapy
Whenever we talk about chemotherapy and massage, the question invariably comes up about chemotherapy eliminated through the skin: will the massage therapist, in continuous contact with the client's skin, unwittingly absorb some of these toxic substances? For our own safety, should we wear gloves when providing massage to clients in chemotherapy? Should we avoid contact with them altogether? Therapists are understandably concerned about the possibility of picking up chemotherapy by-products through their hands but, like any rumor, these fears have been overblown and somewhere along the line we came to believe it was dangerous to touch all patients in chemotherapy.
Space limits a full discussion of this issue here, but there is an excellent place to go for deeper understanding. The Society for Oncology Massage (www.s4om.org) provides detailed discussion for massage therapists, clients, caregivers and other health care providers. There is a Resource Link for massage therapists where the chemotherapy, toxicity and touch issues are well-addressed. Careful analysis of the risks is provided, bringing massage into alignment with nursing practices during chemotherapy. Conditions under which a therapist might wear gloves are identified, and the current understanding of the issues is made plain.
There clearly is room for more dialogue and research in the profession of massage about the precise effects of our work. There is growing energy devoted to these questions and more resources to turn to. We have the second Highlighting Massage in CIM Research conference to look forward to this May in Seattle (find out more at www.massagetherapyfoundation.org/researchconference2010.html) This conference follows closely on the heels of the second Oncology Massage Healing Summit in Minneapolis (find out more at www.nwhealth.edu/conted/seminars/oncology.html).
I attended both of these conferences the first time around, and they were some of my favorite experiences. In settings like these, the science and practice of massage are addressed by thoughtful people who bring their whole hearts and minds to their massage inquiry. Toxin or no toxin, movement or no movement; by holding massage therapy up to the light, we will come to more fully understand the work of our hands.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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