resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Are You Really a Healthy Eater?
I always giggle a little bit (to myself) when someone comes into my office and informs me that they are a healthy eater. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean they eat sugar in moderation? And what's that, exactly?
Connecting the Dots
In 2002, I published a book on patient examination procedures that included information on the procedural coding of the recommended examinations. The book should have been published in 2000, but I had trouble finding a publisher. Why?
It might have been a miserable start to the day in the heart of downtown San Diego. A heavy rain had soaked the large homeless population congregating near the intersection of Third Avenue and Ash Street as they waited for a free breakfast to be served at the First Lutheran Church on the corner.
Mind-Body in Motion
A central goal of low back pain treatment involves the correction of dysfunctional movement patterns believed to be responsible for spinal overload.
The Top Seven Website Mistakes Clinics Make
The majority of acupuncture clinics finally have a website for their business. Having a website is crucial for being found online through Google, Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
Reflections: The Art of Teaching Asian Medicine
Over the past three decades, my global workshops have been translated into German, Swiss German, French, Romansch, Spanish, Lithuanian and Xhosa. Time to offer you new teachers a few tips!
Finding Balance in the Clinic
This past December, I celebrated 11 years in practice. I seriously don't know where the time went. I feel beyond blessed and grateful to be practicing our profound and beautiful medicine and to be helping guide my patients restore a state of optimal health.
News in Brief
An Encouraging Sign at Palmer; NBCE Announces Retirement of Longtime Director of Testing.
The Conscious Evolution of Healing, Part 2
The idea of transmission is very important in the Chinese medical classics. According to author Claude Larre, the ancient Chinese were highly interested in the connection between things. Nothing was looked at as an isolated entity.
Neuroscience: Where Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine Can Come Together
The recent advances in neuroscience are truly incredible. With this expansion of scientific knowledge, I would like to see even more research into the neuroscientific basic of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
It's Time to Create a Strong Acupuncture Footprint
Footprints in the sand. Footprints in the snow. Where do these footprints go? Some are big, some are small, but footprints are made by all.
Acupuncture and Homeopathy: Bioenergetic Brothers
Acupuncture and homeopathy share an important healing principle: bioenergetics. "Bio" means "life," so bioenergetics is literally "life energy."
Let's Speak With One Voice in 2015
For the longest time, the chiropractic profession has attempted to achieve some form of unity. On a political level, this was characterized by an ultimately unsuccessful two-year merger effort between ACA and ICA leadership from 1986-1988.
Old TCM Sayings: Treat the Front to Treat the Back
Chinese medicine college was, and always will be, a memorable time. It was a time of massive personal and professional growth.
Help Your Parents Stay Engaged
As much as parents may wish it were so, children do not come with an instruction manual. There's no "how to" that can be followed and no two children are alike, so what works with one generally won't work with the next.
Case Histories from Bali: Treating Balinese Chidren with TCB and Shonishin
When I moved to the island of Bali in 2005, I offered my services in Bumi Sehat, which means Healthy Mother Earth, a free birthing center for poor and disadvantaged local women located in Ubud.
Put the Social Back Into Social Media
Social media is more than a passing fad, it is definitely here to stay. Social media apps and channels of distribution may evolve, but the concept of social media is now big business and a part of all our lives.
Leaving Footprints on Capitol Hill: Tribute to Dr. Kenneth Luedtke (1930-2014)
It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Dr. Ken Luedtke.
Unlevel Pelvis in the High-School Athlete: Exploring Causes and Effects
The unlevel pelvis is all too common in the high-school athlete and if not detected, will likely cause a lifetime of musculoskeletal issues. Any provider who doesn't look for this common finding is missing critical information.
Cell Health (Part 2)
Dr. Barsten, your book is about restoring "cell vitality." Can you briefly define the term? Cell vitality is more than the mere absence of symptoms or pathology, but optimum structural, physiological and energetic health.
April, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 04
Thai Massage Reduces Pain
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Have your clients reported having pain between their shoulder blades? Have your clients ever asked about the effects associated with Thai massage? Do you provide Thai massage as a modality in your practice? If you answered yes to any of these questions, we at the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) are reporting on a new study that may be of interest to you.The study we're reporting provides evidence that Thai massage reduces pain, muscle tension, and anxiety in patients who had myofascial trigger points in the scapular region.
This study from Thailand investigates the effects of traditional Thai massage on scapulocostal syndrome (SCS), a musculoskeletal pain syndrome in the posterior shoulder area. Buttagat and colleagues compared the effectiveness of Thai massage to physical therapy treatments using ultrasound and heat packs in treating pain localized to the medial superior border of the scapula. Previous studies by the same research team showed that traditional Thai massage promotes relaxation and reduces stress in patients with back pain associated with trigger points.
In this pilot study, the authors recruited patients aged 18-50 years old who had "spontaneous scapular pain which had lasted longer than 12 weeks, and had at least one trigger point in the scapular region." An independent assessor, who was blind to which treatment the patient would receive and had no knowledge or effect on the outcome of the study, examined each patient for associated myofascial trigger points in the serratus posterior superior, rhomboid and levator scapula muscles on the affected side. Trigger points were defined as "the presence of tender points within palpable taut bands of muscle in areas that the patient identified as painful." A total of 20 patients were included in the study because they lacked any other known cause of their pain, nor had any contraindication for Thai massage — e.g. fracture or contagious skin disease.
The 20 participants were randomly assigned into two groups of 10 – a traditional Thai massage group (TTM) or the PT modalities group (PT). The TTM patients "received a 30-min session of TTM for nine sessions over a period of three weeks around the scapula region while lying on their side [in a position of] transverse adduction of their arm, plus protraction of the scapula." The same certified Thai massage therapist performed all nine treatments for each of the ten participants. The PT patients "received a 30-minute session of a hot pack and ultrasound therapy [for 10 min] for nine sessions over a period of three weeks in the same environment as the TTM group."
One common critique of any study investigating pain, especially those involving bodywork therapy, is that pain is inherently subjective. Buttagat and colleagues considered this objection and collected data using five different physiological and psychological outcome measures to assess the participants' experience of pain. Pain and tension were assessed using a horizontal visual analogue scale (VAS). The scale ranged from 0 to 10, with 0 indicating no pain or muscle tension, and 10 indicating the most pain or muscle tension ever experienced. The patients marked the line indicating their levels of pain intensity and muscle tension. Pressure pain threshold (PPT) was assessed using a pressure algometry technique involving participants giving a verbal signal when they began to feel pain or any discomfort (at which point the compression was stopped). State Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Thai version, was measured using a 20 item inventory of how the participant felt at the moment. Characteristic items included "I feel calm" and "I am regretful," and were answered in scale of severity (not at all, a little, somewhat, etc.). Patient satisfaction was determined through a questionnaire consisting of a 5-point scale (not satisfied at all, not satisfied, satisfied, very satisfied, and most satisfied).
All outcome measures were compared at three points – after the first treatment session (immediate effects on day one), one day after the last treatment session (short-term effects at three weeks), and two weeks after the last treatment session (long-term effects at five weeks). Patients were similar at baseline; the TTM group reported pain intensity of 5.2 and muscle tension of 5.5; slightly more compared to the PT group's pain of 4.4 and tension of 4.5.
The pain intensity, muscle tension, and state anxiety all showed significant improvements with treatment among patients in both groups at all time points. However, there was no change in PPT for the PT group. When comparing each outcome measure individually, the researchers found a significant improvement in the TTM group compared to the PT group, except for the STAI (immediate and long term effect). Just as important, patients were much more satisfied with the TTM therapy – all TTM patients indicated they were "most satisfied" or "very satisfied," compared to the majority of PT patients who reported that they were only "satisfied."
The PPT for the PT modalities group did not change at any point: there was no immediate response, nor was there response after nine sessions. For TTM, however, the pressure needed to elicit pain doubled after nine sessions. Compared to baseline, this was a highly significant change that was also significantly more than the PPT of the PT group at three weeks and at five weeks. Objectively, TTM reduced the pressure sensitivity of these chronically painful areas in only nine half-hour sessions.
While the study size was small, involving only ten people per group, it is highly likely that the effects shown here will be duplicated. Often, a large sample size is necessary to reveal small differences between groups. The differences between TTM and PT modalities were highly significant even with only the twenty participants. The major limitation of this design was that it is impossible to blind the therapists and the patients to the treatments, as is the case in the majority of massage studies. The authors concede that further study should include a "resting condition" or relaxation group where the patients would simply lie on their side for nine sessions of 30-minutes.
Buttagat and colleagues write, "We may therefore conclude that the treatment by TTM among patients with SCS was superior to the PT." However, the two PT modalities used here – heat pack and ultrasound for ten minutes – would likely not be the only treatments that these patients would receive in out-patient physical therapy practice.
If you use Thai massage, you can refer to resources such as this article to support Thai massage as an evidence-based practice. If you want to use Thai massage in your practice, the specific treatment protocols used in this study are included in the research article. However, these protocols are part of traditional Thai massage, which requires knowledge, skill and training for best results to result from this modality. Pursuing continuing education in Thai massage could be worthwhile in order to offer added pain relief benefits to your clients.
Source: Buttagat V, Eungpinichpong W, Chatchawan U, Arayawichanon P. Therapeutic effects of traditional Thai massage on pain, muscle tension and anxiety in patients with scapulocostal syndrome: a randomized single-blinded pilot study. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012;16:1:57-63.
For more information about the Massage Therapy Foundation, visit www.massagetherapyfoundation.org.
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