resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
The Science of Stretching
In 1986, Rob DeCastella set a course record by running the Boston Marathon in 2:07:51, just 39 seconds off the world record.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
February, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 02
Cancer, Treatment and Detoxification
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
Some time ago, a client going through intense chemotherapy treatment asked me if deep massage would help her cleanse the drugs from her system. She had read about a number of liver cleansing protocols that suggested very deep massage to facilitate the process of elimination.Her question touched on a number of issues in the oncology massage world and there were several layers to my response to her. I share my answers here, because the issues are relevant for our many clients in chemotherapy.
The Effects of Massage
In the massage profession, we have learned, read, taught and repeated the belief that massage helps move toxins out of the tissues and out of the body. However, we have not always been clear on which toxins, from which tissues, or through which routes of elimination. Almost any substance in the blood, even a nutrient, can be considered toxic if there is too much of it in the blood or tissues, so our use of the term is ambiguous. I once had a physician on my table that was a huge fan of massage therapy, but told me that the profession's liberal use of the word toxin always made him uncomfortable. Invariably, when he asked a massage therapist what the term meant, he received vague, unsatisfactory answers.
Our use of the word toxin seems to imply a waste product or poison that shouldn't be there. In the realm of chemotherapy, the reagents and products of breakdown are known to be toxic, so at least we are on more definitive ground there. But to my knowledge, there is no solid base of research to support the notion that massage moves toxins out of the tissues. By solid, I mean more than a single study. Instead, to be given serious consideration, we need multiple studies, from multiple investigators, in peer-reviewed publications, reporting similar results on this point.
That said, my client was talking about chemotherapy and wanting to eliminate chemotherapy drugs from her body. These medications and their metabolites do have toxic qualities which is why they are used to destroy tumors.
She was suffering greatly from the effects of these toxins she wanted them gone, period. I told her there wasn't much known about the effects of massage in the toxin department, so I couldn't say whether deep effleurage and petrissage would, in fact, speed it out of her system. I also told her I had other concerns about the detoxification approach, which I have described here.
The Intent of Massage
When we work with clients in chemotherapy, our intent is to ease symptoms and support our clients in integrating and managing the effects of treatment. For this reason, we do not impose additional challenges to the body by working it too hard (MacDonald, 2007). So I told my client that even if we knew for sure that deep massage strokes would chase the drugs out of her system more quickly, we wouldn't necessarily choose that approach.
Instead, it makes more sense to let the body set its own pace of detoxification. The organs of detoxification -- the liver, kidneys and skin -- are busy enough without the potential additional demand of a deep, draining, circulatory massage. I told my client that, even without research or clear understanding about massage and detoxification, this is our rationale for working gently.
Additional support for this gentle approach comes from our clinical observations: When clients in chemotherapy receive deep work, they feel worse, not better, afterward. Whatever the reason for that, deep massage is too much for them. These clinical observations inform our practice much more than any attempt to explain them.
A Good Referral
My client continued to press me about what I thought she should do after chemotherapy. She asked about a number of detoxification protocols involving ingesting large amounts of salt water and other substances. They had to do with cleansing the colon and liver. I listened, but stayed neutral. I told her I couldn't advise her either way, it was out of my scope of practice. I told her she had great questions, but that I thought such practices would be safest if done under the supervision of a naturopathic physician or another physician experienced in natural medicine after chemotherapy. And I urged her to raise her questions with her doctor and chemotherapy nurse.
These referrals gave her somewhere to go with her questions and her urge to detoxify. At the same time, I managed to stay within my scope of practice. This can be challenging when our clients ask us for our opinions and advice and these questions come up a lot when we have a whole hour available to our clients. It is important to navigate them in an unbiased way, with supportive listening and good referrals. In the end, this can be a great service to our clients.
Gloving for Chemotherapy
Whenever we talk about chemotherapy and massage, the question invariably comes up about chemotherapy eliminated through the skin: will the massage therapist, in continuous contact with the client's skin, unwittingly absorb some of these toxic substances? For our own safety, should we wear gloves when providing massage to clients in chemotherapy? Should we avoid contact with them altogether? Therapists are understandably concerned about the possibility of picking up chemotherapy by-products through their hands but, like any rumor, these fears have been overblown and somewhere along the line we came to believe it was dangerous to touch all patients in chemotherapy.
Space limits a full discussion of this issue here, but there is an excellent place to go for deeper understanding. The Society for Oncology Massage (www.s4om.org) provides detailed discussion for massage therapists, clients, caregivers and other health care providers. There is a Resource Link for massage therapists where the chemotherapy, toxicity and touch issues are well-addressed. Careful analysis of the risks is provided, bringing massage into alignment with nursing practices during chemotherapy. Conditions under which a therapist might wear gloves are identified, and the current understanding of the issues is made plain.
There clearly is room for more dialogue and research in the profession of massage about the precise effects of our work. There is growing energy devoted to these questions and more resources to turn to. We have the second Highlighting Massage in CIM Research conference to look forward to this May in Seattle (find out more at www.massagetherapyfoundation.org/researchconference2010.html) This conference follows closely on the heels of the second Oncology Massage Healing Summit in Minneapolis (find out more at www.nwhealth.edu/conted/seminars/oncology.html).
I attended both of these conferences the first time around, and they were some of my favorite experiences. In settings like these, the science and practice of massage are addressed by thoughtful people who bring their whole hearts and minds to their massage inquiry. Toxin or no toxin, movement or no movement; by holding massage therapy up to the light, we will come to more fully understand the work of our hands.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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