Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients
Blaire T Apr 27, 2014
When you or one of your loved ones has cancer, there isn’t anything you wouldn’t want to do to relieve some of the pain and suffering.* Unfortunately, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US. – more than 1 million people are diagnosed each year. Depending on the stage and type of cancer itself, there may be many different treatments. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are some of what helps decrease the cancer cells. Other types of treatments are hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. There are many benefits and side effects that come along with each treatment. In many cases, massage therapy will help alleviate some of those side effects or help them feel better.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to massage therapy with cancer patients. Massage therapy could help to improve the quality of life and bring comfort. Massage therapy may also help relax the muscles, increase mobility, increase strength, flexibility, improve blood circulation and pressure. It can also increase energy, endorphin production, improve sleep patterns and overall coordination. Massage therapy can also correct posture imbalances, relieves muscle tension tightness and pain, reducing the need for certain medications. Massage therapy can also loosen mucus in lungs, help drain sinuses, and much more.
Along with cancer treatments there are some contraindications with massage. DVT risk, infection, constipation, lymph edema, and medical device issues require a gentle, or Swedish massage. Massage therapy during chemotherapy treatment will depend on the client’s condition (always check with you oncologist). Some days are better than others, and typically Swedish massage should be used over deeper pressure.
There are some contraindications to receiving massage from cancer and the disease process. Massage therapy techniques must be modified over known tumor sites, suspected tumor sites and past tumor sites and any surgical scars. Bone involvement, primary or metastatic can lead to bone fractures with very little pressure. With this, the therapist should use very little pressure and no joint movements. With cancer pain, the therapist will always refer the client to their doctor, and avoid massage pressure or joint movement at any site with bone involvement is a concern, and any site where tumor presence is a concern. When there is major organ involvement including, brain, heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, it is advisable for the client to use gentle massage. Deep vein thrombosis is a formation of a blood clot within a deep vein. Your therapist should be notified about this condition because any pressure or movement could dislodge the clot and lead to an embolism. When a therapist recognizes DVT they should not perform any type of massage therapy care. This is a medical emergency and should be seen by a doctor or emergency room.
So with all this information, it is always good to speak to your doctor first, do research, and find the best therapist for you. Here at Elements we have therapists that specialize in Oncology Massage and will make you comfortable.
In Good Health,
- Blaire T., LMT
Elements Massage of Morris Plains Team
*It is always important to consult your doctor before getting any type of treatment.