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Experiencing and Recommending Complementary Therapy

Essay by   •  April 6, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,799 Words (8 Pages)  •  977 Views

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RUNNING HEAD: Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

Jodi Cote

University of Maine at Fort Kent

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, an estimated 18 million U.S. adults and 700,000 children had received massage therapy in the previous year. People use massage for a variety of health-related purposes, including to relieve pain, rehabilitate sports injuries, reduce stress, increase relaxation, address anxiety and depression, and aid general wellness (Barnes, Bloom, & Nahin, 2009). The medical dictionary definition of massage therapy is "The manipulation of muscle and connective tissue to enhance the function of those tissues and promote relaxation and well-being" (Medicine Net Inc, 2011).

Massage therapy is conducted in many forms. Some examples are Swedish massage, sports massage, deep tissue massage, shiatsu, aromatherapy massage, ayurvedic massage, and myofasical release. In Swedish massage, the therapist uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration, and tapping. Sports massage is similar to Swedish massage, adapted specifically to the needs of athletes. Among the many other examples are deep tissue massages and trigger point massage, which focuses on myofascial trigger points -- muscle "knots" that are painful when pressed and can cause symptoms elsewhere in the body. Shiatsu massage is performed by pressing thumbs, fingers, and palms on shiatsu points. Pressure is applied throughout the body to correct imbalances and maintaining and promoting health. Aromatherapy massage is a used with any massage method with medicinal-grade essential oils. The oils are derived from plants, flowers, stems, bark, or roots. Ayurvedic massage is based on pressure points throughout the body. Pressure is applied through gentle circular movements on those points, which brings homeostasis (Hughes, Ladas, Rooney, & Kelly, 2008).

Massage therapists work in a variety of settings, including private offices, hospitals, nursing homes, studios, and sport and fitness facilities. Some also travel to patients' homes or workplaces. They usually try to provide a calm, soothing environment. Therapists usually ask new patients about symptoms, medical history, and desired results. They may also perform an evaluation through touch, to locate painful or tense areas and determine how much pressure to apply. Typically, the patient lies on a table, either in loose-fitting clothing or undressed (covered with a sheet, except for the area being massaged). The therapist may use oil or lotion to reduce friction on the skin. Sometimes, people receive massage therapy while sitting in a chair. A massage session may be fairly brief, but may also last an hour or even longer.

Massage therapy has few serious risks -- if it is performed by a properly trained therapist and if appropriate cautions are followed. The number of serious injuries reported is very small. Side effects of massage therapy may include temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling, and a sensitivity or allergy to massage oils. Cautions about massage therapy include the following; vigorous massage should be avoided by people with bleeding disorders or low blood platelet counts, and by people taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin. Massage should not be done in any area of the body with blood clots, fractures, open or healing wounds, skin infections, or weakened bones (such as from osteoporosis or cancer), or where there has been a recent surgery. Although massage therapy appears to be generally safe for cancer patients, they should consult their oncologist before having a massage that involves deep or intense pressure. Any direct pressure over a tumor usually is discouraged. Cancer patients should discuss any concerns about massage therapy with their oncologist (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2010).

On December 7 and 13th2011, I experienced one hour pregnancy massages. I have had massages in the past, but not a pregnancy massage. A pregnancy massage is mostly Swedish massage technique, but therapists focus on problem areas such as; pedal edema, sciatic nerve pain, and back pain (American Pregnancy Association, 2011). During my pregnancy, I was plagued with high blood pressure, headaches, pedal edema, and hip pain. Before the appointment, my hip and back ached, my feet and ankles were swollen. After both appointments, I felt good enough to endure the duration of my pregnancy, which was three to four more weeks. At the first appointment, the therapist gave me a questionnaire to fill out. The questionnaire entailed questions about my medical history, medications, allergies, and problem areas that I would like addressed during the massage. At the second appointment, the therapist only asked if there were any changes to my health since the last appointment. Costs of the each massage were $65.00, plus $5.00 tip. Due to money restraints, I had two massages. Unfortunately, my health insurance does not cover massages. Weekly massages for the duration of the pregnancy would have been beneficial. Depending on a patient's condition (chronic or acute), they may have massages bi-weekly or once weekly. My therapist recommended me to have massages weekly, then after delivery if the swelling subsided monthly for stress reduction. If the swelling did not subside, I would continue having weekly massages.

Because I have had massages in the past, I was comfortable removing my clothing for the massage. The therapist instructed me to lie on my back under a sheet. She asked me to tell her if I felt dizzy or lightheaded at all during the session. This was to prevent supine hypotension syndrome. In the third trimester, the uterus is heavy enough to occlude the inferior vena cava leading to less blood returning to the heart and eventual low blood pressure (Baby Med, 2009). I also had a roll under my knees to protect my back. The therapist provided soft music,

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