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Blood Clots and Massage

Blood Clots and Massage

Kayla Burnside

Blood clots are a normal part of our body's defense system. When there is some type of injury, platelets in the bloodstream become sticky, gathering red blood cells and creating a blood clot. The purpose of a clot is to prevent bleeding and begin healing the injury. But blood clots may also begin because of an inflamed or blocked blood vessel. A blood clot in the leg, commonly known as deep vein thrombosis, can form from injury, because of dilated weak blood vessels, or even just sitting for too long.

 A pulmonary embolism, which is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs, will have symptoms such as shortness of breath, sharp chest pains aggravated by a cough or even just moving, back pain, cough with or without blood. In the case of a pulmonary embolism, medical attention should be sought immediately because time can be of the essence.   Deep vein thrombosis, often in the lower extremities,may have swelling, pain, redness, warm to the touch, worsening pain when bending of the foot, and leg cramps. 

Risk factors in your life may also contribute to clots forming. These factors leave some people more susceptible to forming blood clots. Prolonged sitting due to work daily, immobility due to an injury, recent surgery or trauma to the body, obesity, heart attack or heart failure can increase the risks. Pregnant women are more prone to blood clots as well as women who are in the 6-8-week postpartum stage after childbirth. Some birth control pills and estrogen pills will have side effects or risk factors of blood clots; genetic factors can also have a lot to do with the effects of clotting. Heart or respiratory conditions can affect the risks of creating a blood clot. 

Deep vein thrombosis and blood clots anywhere in the body are an example of a serious health condition that can be adversely affected by any type of massage. Consulting with the doctor before massage is the best way to avoid any reactions including a fatal reaction. Deep tissue massage focuses on layers of connective tissue in the body. This tissue lines the skin, dividing muscles into their functional groups. The purpose of deep tissue massage is to stretch the connective tissue layer by layer until even the deepest layer has been released. With any kind of massage, though, especially deep tissue, the risk with blood clots is that it may break loose and travel to unwanted areas of the body like your heart or lungs causing a fatal heart attack or a blocked artery.   This is why it is crucial to have written approval from the MD treating your clot before getting massage.

Knowing your risk factors, if any, will greatly help you avoid this issue. After surgery, follow doctor’s orders and stay up and moving to get blood flowing to the area that needs healed. If you are sitting at work for prolonged periods of time, get up and walk the office to ensure blood flow is getting to the lower limbs. If you do have a family history of clots, there is no harm in asking your doctor to keep an eye out with ultrasounds or other tests. Lastly, if you do have a blood clot, avoid massages if they are in the abdomen or are acute and actively being treated,  and get a doctor's note of approval if they are in the lower body. Even with the doctor's note, your therapist may still feel more comfortable only working the upper portion of your body to ensure the clot goes away completely naturally.

If you ever have questions about how your medical condition could be impacted by massage, please do not hesitate to contact our studio.  

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