resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE 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.
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.
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.
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 Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
June, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 06
What You Should Know About Corticosteroids
By Rita Woods, LMT
Corticosteroids are steroid hormones made naturally by the body and are classified as either mineral corticoids or glucocorticoids. Artificial corticosteroids are used as medications. You might be familiar with the most commonly prescribed synthetic steroids which are triamcinolone, cortisone, prednisone, dexamethasone and methylprednisolone.Many of our clients may be undergoing some treatment which includes the use of steroids. (The common term 'steroids' used here should not be confused with the male hormone related steroid compounds that are used predominantly to build muscle mass.)
It is very important to do a thorough medication/medical intake evaluation. It is also important for you to be proactive in reading about and researching your client's conditions and medications so that you can customize the massage sessions appropriately. An excellent website for researching medications is www.drugs.com. Other websites that provide easy to understand information and offer insight are the Cleveland Clinic at my.clevelandclinic.org and the Mayo Clinic at www.mayoclinic.com and www.webmd.com. These are excellent sites to recommend to your clients to research their own conditions and medications. You can also find some great complimentary sites that are packed with helpful knowledge. In my practice, I have found that the more familiar a client is with their condition and medications, the more effectively they communicate with their healthcare providers.
Steroids are used to treat a variety of conditions and manage pain. Steroids work by decreasing inflammation and reducing the activity of the immune system. More specifically, steroids reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in order to minimize tissue damage. Steroids also reduce the activity of the immune system by affecting the function of white blood cells. Another common use of steroids is in conjunction with chemotherapy. The primary benefits when used in cancer treatment include: reduced nausea associated with chemotherapy and radiation, kills some cancer cells and shrinks tumors as part of chemotherapy, and decreases swelling and reduces allergic reactions (before transfusions, for example). And since one of the side effects of steroid use is increased appetite and weight gain, this can also benefit the client undergoing traditional treatment for cancer. Additionally, they can excite the system so they can be effective fatigue fighters.
Let's take a look at some of the side effects and see how they might impact your massage session. Keep in mind that not all patients will develop side effects and the side effects will be different for each individual. The occurrence of side effects depends on the dose, the type of steroid given and the length of treatment. The following list includes the more common side effects of systemic steroid use given either through pill form or IV administration. These circulate through the blood stream. This is only a partial list. As already mentioned, the client may be experiencing wakefulness or agitation, nervousness or restlessness and increased appetite and weight gain. They may bruise easily, the skin may become thin, and they may develop streaks or red spots. They may experience changes in body fat distribution, water retention and swelling. Steroid use can also cause or worsen diabetes, increased blood pressure, cause cataracts or glaucoma, and blurred vision. Of particular interest to massage is possible muscle weakness, corticosteroid induced myopathy, and osteoporosis/osteonecrosis. We'll look at bone loss and muscle weakness in a minute.
Steroids can be administered locally in a variety of ways. Inhaled corticosteroids are often prescribed for asthma. They are used in lower doses to reduce inflammation in the airways. Corticosteroid nasal sprays are sometimes used to relieve allergy symptoms. Topical corticosteroids are rubbed on the skin, where they help relieve the itch and redness of inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. Injected corticosteroids can be given to reduce or relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, plantar fasciitis and such. Typically, these cause fewer side effects than oral corticosteroids. When reviewing your client's list of medications, keep this in mind and think through the process. So, let's go back and look at some specific musculoskeletal issues that you need to be aware of.
"High-dose cortisone is the second most common cause of osteoporosis, and we currently have no real treatment for this serious side effect," says senior author Steven L. Teitelbaum, MD, Messing Professor of Pathology and Immunology. "Given how frequently these drugs are used to treat many different conditions, that's a major clinical problem." The femoral head is the most commonly affected area. Common sense tells you that if your client fits into this category, you must never use the deep pressure during the massage. One study, published in The Lancet medical journal in 2000, stated that high doses of inhaled steroids used by asthma patients caused significant loss in bone density. The key here is high dose versus low dose and the length of treatment. The study used patients on high doses for at least six years. Think it through. Look it up. Talk to your client.
Corticosteroids inhibit intestinal calcium absorption and increase urinary calcium excretion leading to bone resorption and bone loss. People taking oral steroids also double their risk for severe vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to further bone disease or muscle weakness. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, in New York City, said in September 2011, steroids might increase levels of an enzyme that inactivates the vitamin, resulting in osteomalacia (softening of the bones), rickets (softening of bones in children) or clinical myopathy (muscle weakness). They recommended that physicians monitor vitamin D levels of patients being treated with oral steroids.
Corticosteroid induced myopathy is damage to the muscle fibers caused by treatment with corticosteroids, such as prednisone, cortisone, dexamethasone and fludrocortisone or overproduction of steroids associated with Cushing's disease. Myopathy causes changes in muscle fibers, including atrophy (shrinkage), lipid (fatty) deposits, necrotic (dead) areas and increased interstitial (connective) tissue between fibers. You may have severe damage to the muscles while the muscles appear normal in size. This happens because the connective tissue increases in the space surrounding the muscle fibers so no noticeable difference in the anatomy is obvious. Everything "looks" normal. However, these clients will experience increasing intolerance to exercise because the muscles start to weaken with use and pain increases. The muscles most affected are those in the arms and legs and the pelvis (hips). Weakness usually starts in the proximal (upper) portion of the muscle and progresses to the distal (bottom) portion. You may have increased difficulty standing, walking up stairs and reaching upward.
The potential impact on bone, muscle and skin with high dose steroid use should send up a red flag in your massage therapy brain. Additionally, because of the possible fluid changes in the body, the circulatory system could be overloaded so try to minimize the movement of fluids with gentle work unless you are trained to specifically work with this. Refer them to a massage specialist or get permission (in writing) from their doctor.
In summary, I think it's safe to say that gentle work is the best way to go with clients on steroids. The exception to this may be in working on the feet. The feet are made to take a pounding like nothing else in the body. The small muscles in a tendon rich environment are designed to withstand pressure that our larger muscles are not designed to do. So, even if your client is undergoing chemotherapy and suffering with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, the deeper work on the feet to address this issue is generally acceptable. Another (and additional) option for these clients might be stretching. One therapist I spoke with suggests beginning Tai Chi to all of her oncology clients. I think that's a great suggestion. Keep up the good work!
Click here for previous articles by Rita Woods, LMT.
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