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Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage targets connective tissue underlying the muscles to ease postural problems, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, carpal tunnel syndrome, whiplash and sports injuries.

Can you massage edema in cancer patient?

Jennifer Forte (Ithaca, NY) on Mar 1, 2012
1 user found this answer helpful
Hi Maude, If your friend has a lymphatic cancer, then circulating the lymph would definitely be contraindicated because you would be assisting the transport of the cancer cells. Traditionally, edema is supposed to be moved by massaging the areas surrounding the edema, beginning with the proximal area, then distal to the edema, and then proximal again. So, if the edema is in her ankles, you create space in the legs with centripetal strokes and then push the fluid up starting at the feet. I don't think massage on the edema itself is harmful unless it is painful for your client. State rules aside, if what you are doing is really helping your friend, I don't see why you would need to stop. Just check in with her often about how she's feeling, and make sure there isn't any swelling occurring in other parts of the body. I hope this was helpful! Jen
Julie LaFrano (Breckenridge, CO) on Mar 1, 2012
Everyone is different. It is not bad or wrong if it is helping. You just have make certain considerations for different situations. Glad it helped.
Mark Carlson (Costa Mesa, CA) on Mar 1, 2012
Yes. in this case. But it is different in all cases, depending on what type of cancer is present.
Leah Nelson (Salt Lake City, UT) on Mar 1, 2012
Hi Maude, Well, I wish I had a great answer for you, but your situation is baffling to me as well. I am surprised lymphatic drainage did not help, but it's possible it was not the lymph that needed to be moved. I would say, if deep tissue massage, or whatever it is you are doing, is working then I can't imagine it would be harmful. I would definitely proceed with caution, but it sounds like you're already doing that. And if the doctors gave you the go-ahead, and your friend is also willing, then massage away!
James Delgadillo (Memphis, TN) on Mar 1, 2012
Yes, massage (manual lymphatic drainage) done properly can be an effective treatment for lymphedema. It is always necessary to consult with and have the attending physician's permission before beginning treatment. Many physicians do not recommend massage for patients with active cancer and to parts of the body that have been exposed to radiation therapy. In my experience, while the technique varies slightly with the client, very light pressure is used on the surface of the skin with strokes moving in the direction of the heart (trunk of the body). The manual lymphatic drainage techniques are usually done in addition to light exercise and compression garments.
Devinder Singh (Damascus, MD) on Mar 1, 2012
I did my CEU in "Massage for people living with breast cancer" and lymphatic massage- a very soft massage totally different from Swedish/deep tissue - was prescribed and performed.
Geraldine Macinski (Sandy Hook, CT) on Mar 1, 2012
Lymph drainage for edema requires multiple sessions to be effective. The lymph system moves in specific directions and lymph massage is not the same as muscular massage. It is important to avoid damaging the delicate valves of the lymph vessels. As you may know, the lymph system helps to move impurities from the body. Take care.
Geraldine Macinski (Sandy Hook, CT) on Mar 1, 2012
Lymph drainage for edema requires multiple sessions to be effective. The lymph system moves in specific directions and lymph massage is not the same as muscular massage. It is important to avoid damaging the delicate valves of the lymph vessels. As you may know, the lymph system helps to move impurities from the body. Take care.
Christine Gross (Grand Rapids, MI) on Mar 1, 2012
No, it is not bad. Massage has been found to be very helpful to cancer patients, so keep doing what you can to help. Trust yourself to know what will benefit her most. God bless both of you.
Peter Proto (Meriden, CT) on Mar 1, 2012
no
Carin Piacente (Putnam Valley, NY) on Mar 1, 2012
Massage is great for any type of edema. In this case, continue what you are doing.
Jennie Mison (Philadelphia, PA) on Mar 1, 2012
Hi Maude, While deep massage is not how lymphatic massage is done, this does not mean that you aren't also pushing lymph fluid back into the nodes and forcing lymphatic circulation also. You are. Lymphatic massage is a series of techniques designed to move lymph fluid around without actively disturbing or stimulating any other tissues in the body. Remember, lymph fluid circulates because of muscle contraction causing pressure against lymph tissue and pushing the fluid that way! Anything that moves muscle moves lymph! Edema is a general contraindication for massage because edema is literally "too much fluid" that has now pooled somewhere in the body because the body's internal pumps have failed (think sump pumps in a flooded basement). The problem is that without knowing why the body is not pumping the extra fluid out of the extremity, we do not know if the pump to remove fluids (there is more than one involved) could handle the sudden release of extra fluid to dispose of all at once (the sump pump in the basement fails but you manage to force it to work and now all the drainage pipes are over-filled with more fluid than it is prepared to deal with!). This is why massage books contra-indicate massage in the presence of edema. To explain when and how it would be okay - and how to handle it if something goes wrong! - would require you to have a medical knowledge above and beyond a massage therapist curriculum in school. And for the record, the lymph is not struggling with infections and chemo. The chemo is a lot like the brush burning they do to contain forest fires where they go and create a controlled fire around an area and burn away anything and everything in that perimeter so that the forest fire can feed on anything there and move past it. Chemo is similar in that it pretty much kills everything that isn't vital in an effort to contain the cancer. It isn't the lymph that is struggling. Its the whole body struggling with the process. Moving lymph is better than stagnant lymph. Like water, it can only purify itself and cleanse everything around it when it is moving and flowing. Water (and lymph) that stands still only becomes problematic, not helpful. If her edema is bad enough, it may have required a deeper pressure to move it. The return of warmth is a good thing. Check with her oncologist (her cancer doctor) about whether you should continue massage, how often to use massage and what to look for that should prompt a phone call to him immediately. In all other cancer patients with edema, speak to the doctor first. The edema is a symptom of something else and without knowing what it is, you have no way of knowing if the massage on the edemous part of the body will help or hurt. What you don't know could kill someone else. Be smart. Massage safe.
Deborah Gilmore (Golden, CO) on Mar 1, 2012
No, go with your experience! Most things are contraindicated because we don't know what the results will be. Massage was also contraindicated for cancer not too long ago! Now it is totally indicated! You may have come up with a change in massage if you find deep work to be beneficial. Keep up the good work and be sure to report your findings when you are finished. Thank you!
Bharat Kalra (Wheaton, IL) on Mar 1, 2012
I have recently joined this network and I saw this question. If you still need help you can directly email me because the solution I want to suggest is not for public viewing. My email address is healinghands_now@yahoo.com