I have been a Massage Therapist for more years than I care to count. I have learned over the years that it’s important to know when one of my new clients is on some type of medication that may affect how I massage them. For example, people who take blood thinners are not good candidates for very deep tissue massages. That type of massage is very strenuous and if I work too deeply it may feel good during the massage, but can result in a client covered in bruises for the next week.
Intuitiviely, because I have worked on bodies for so long, I can usually tell if something is different in a body that I have worked on for a long time. But I try to find out as much about the person I massage as they are comfortable with sharing.
The American Massage Therapy Association has a post on their site written by Helen Tosch in 2014, but it is still relevant today, she explains how a massage therapists might handle different situations with chronic disease and pain meds:
” John S. Stracks, MD, family medicine physician at Northwestern Medicine Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in Chicago, says, “The massage therapists who work with my practice say they are always careful when giving deep tissue massage to someone on narcotic pain relievers.” This is because their pain perception may be altered and there is risk for overtreatment. But there are many medications that can cause side effects that massage therapists need to be aware of.
Following, you’ll find information on some common diseases that require medication, as well as some of the side effects and how a massage therapy session may need to change to accommodate clients taking medication.
Common Conditions that Require Medications
Arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, stiffness and swelling, redness, and a decreased range of motion. Arthritis is typically associated with age, but younger people can suffer from arthritis, too. Age, joint injury and obesity are all risk factors for developing arthritis.
The most common treatment for arthritis is medication. Pain relievers, such as analgesics (acetaminophen, tramadol, and narcotics) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen) are often prescribed for arthritis. Some people with arthritis also take corticosteroids (like prednisone and cortisone) or disease-modifying antirheumaticdrugs (DMARDS) and biologics (including etanercept and infliximab).
You should consider altering treatment plans for anyone taking pain relievers. When people take pain relieving medications, they may experience altered pain perception, low blood pressure, dizziness, and bleeding or bruising. ”
Everyone’s body has different areas of strength and weakness. There is no such thing as a one size fits all massage. When you book a massage appointment with me, be sure and let me know if you are taking meds that can affect how I do your specific massage therapy treatment.