resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
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.
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.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
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.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
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.
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.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
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.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
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.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
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.)
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
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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