Massage for Vertigo

Vertigo – The essence of being dizzy.

Also includes:

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)


Acute Vestibular Neuropathy

Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency

Atlantoaxial instability


Vertigo needs to be checked by a doctor to rule out what kind of Vertigo it is.  It can often be a symptom of more serious nervous system problems.

Rule out Stroke and other serious conditions first.


The room spins or the person may be spinning.

Can also feel like an earthquake.

Inability to stand up!

Vomiting may result.

Tinnitus (ringing of the ears) may accompany this.

Blurry Vision


  • Viruses
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Inner Ear Problems
  • Calcium Crystals in the Ear
  • Spinal misalignment particularly C1
  • Nerve Compression in neck, face
  • Injury to the neck or brain
  • Brain tumors

Massage Treatment:

Test first:  vertebral artery test (see this article: The Risks of Vascular Compression in Soft-Tissue Therapy By Whitney Lowe, LMT Massage Today)

Caution advised!  Massage can make vertigo worse and there is nothing worse than having your dizziness made worse!

Dizziness can be triggered by changing the position of the head and neck or getting up and down off the massage table or just getting up from sitting.

Epley maneuver.  Caution! This maneuver can actually cause MORE dizziness and an extreme feeling of falling – not just falling to the ground but falling from a tall building.

Possible Muscles involved: Sternocleidoastoid (SCM), Anterior Neck


Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo: It Will Make Your Head Spin! pathology perspectives By Ruth Werner  Massage and Bodywork Magazine. July/Aug 2010
The Risks of Vascular Compression in Soft-Tissue Therapy By Whitney Lowe, LMT Massage Today)

Atlantoaxial instability or vertebrobasilar insufficiency article by Paul Ingram with great diagrams!

Personal Note: Vertigo is why I created this website and my many others.  It has been such an incapacitating ordeal making it difficult to give massage at many times.  I have tried just about everything under the sun and still it persists and comes and goes.

Massage for Strains and Sprains

Sprain – tearing of a ligament

Strain – tearing of a muscle and/or tendon

Where are strains most likely to occur?

Predisposing factors that contribute to the occurrence of strains:

overuse, fatigue, muscular imbalances, muscle stiffness, inadequate warm-up before an activity


Levels of severity: determined by passive range of motion assessment for sprains,  resisted range of motion for strains very difficult to access because of inflammation assessment is best done by a physician. this information is provided so you know what is possible

Sprains: tears in ligaments
Level 1
  • 1-50% tear of ligament fibers and minimal muscle tissue damage
  • some swelling
  • no loss of function
  • joint is stable and painful


Level 2
  • 50-99% tear of the ligament and joint capsule
  • joint hypermobile and unstable
  • decrease in tensile strength of ligament
  • swelling, bruising, bleeding
Level 3
  • 100% tear of ligament
  • no joint end feel present
  • usually no specific pain, but compensational pain
  • needs physician attention
Strains: tears in muscles and tendons
Level 1a
  • 1-10% partial tear of fibers
  • little or no loss of function
  • can hold against resistance with pain
Level 1b
  • 10-50% fiber tear
  • painful, but can hold against resistance
  • as it approaches 50% less ability to hold against resistance
  • swelling
  • muscle guarding
Level 2 
  • 50-99% fiber tear
  • can’t hold against resistance
  • may hold against gravity
  • pain, edema, swelling and muscle guarding
Level 3
  • 100% fiber tear
  • usually heard snap at time of injury
  • no resistance possible
  • pain may be present at site
  • compensational pain present
  • Needs physicians attention immediately

Causes: gradual or trauma:  increased load on the muscle/ligament that is not strong enough to do hold the weight.
over use, overextended muscles/ligaments, improper warm up before activity,

Treatments: treat according to stage of inflammation treat according to severity of injury ice massage Triggerpoint Myofascial release begin massage treatment as soon as possible to reduce adhesion formation especially with muscular strains.
General guidelines:
Acute stage:  lymph drainage, ice massage, passive range of motion,
Subacute stage: cross fiber friction, muscle energy or strain/counterstrain techniques, add strengthening as inflammation decreases,  trigger point therapy, myofascial release
Chronic stage: cross fiber friction for ligaments, cross fiber friction of muscles,

Cautions: Traction may aggravate if it over-stretches muscles. Stretching may over-stretch and re-injure muscles. Repeated injury to ligaments can cause the ligament to become looser and more prone to re-injury. Be sure you are trained in treating acute injuries.
Other therapies: acupuncture, prolotherapy for ligaments, chiropractic, naturopathic (provides nutritional support needed for proper healing and functioning)


Muscle Strains By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB

Buy 2 e-book bundle: Save Yourself from a Muscle Strain!

Includes more information on:

What is a muscle strain?

How do you know that you’ve got a muscle strain?

True muscle strain checklist

Could you have a muscle spasm instead of a strain?

Could you have muscle knots instead of a muscle strain?

What is a muscle knot? And how is different than spasm and strain?

Muscle strains that don’t heal have usually been hijacked by trigger points

Massage for Breast Cancer

Massage for Breast Cancer to help prevent and support patients through breast cancer surgeries, reconstruction and recovery.

Breast massage continues to be a very controversial massage technique in the US while other countries have accepted it and use it to help with various conditions such as recovery from Breast Cancer.  Public perception of massage still is challenging especially concerning breast massage.

Be sure to check the laws in your state regarding breast massage.


Cancer and Massage Therapy. Essential Contraindications (PDF).  Tracy Walton.  Massage Therapy Journal


Breast massage techniquesmassageforcancer

     Bodymechanics school of massage – Step by step breast massage video

Self-Breast Massage Guidelines for Health By Dana Wyrick   Massage and Bodywork Magazine

Breast massage articles

Breast Massage – On the Brink of Understanding  Massage and Bodywork Magazine

Breast Wellness  Breast Massage Deserves Attention  By Debra Curties, R.M.T.  Massage and Bodywork Magazine
Holistic Massage and One Breast Cancer Patient  By Joseph Feldman, M.A., C.P.C., L.M.T  Massage and Bodywork Magazine
Massage Therapists and Breast Care: Easing the Controversy By Bruno Chikly, MD, DO  Massage Today

Breast Massage Research

Breast Cancer patients have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage.   PubMed

The efficacy of Classical massage on stress perception and cortisol following primary treatment of breast cancer.  PubMed

PubMed Search Massage and Breast Cancer

Breast massage classes


See also Massage and Cancer

Massage for Stress Reduction

Massage for Depression and Anxiety

Massage for Arthritis

Definition: Chronic degeneration articular cartilage of synovial (movable) joints, primarily affecting weight bearing joints.

(sometimes referred to as degenerative joint disease)

Other types of arthritis: Rheumatoid, spondylosis, gout, systemic lupus erythematosus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, kawasaki syndrome.

Causes: improper posture that causes extra stress to joints, injuries resulting in toxic build up in joints,  leading to wearing away of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones.  Dehydration may be a factor, as may nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, improper digestion, increased intake of protein, phosphorus. Possible genetic predisposition. Bacterial, viral or fungal infection of joint. Calcium metabolism may be inefficient.  (caffeine, sugar, phosphorus deplete levels of calcium from bones)

Signs/Symptoms: stiffness usually worse in the morning or after periods of inactivity; hypertonic muscles or weakness due to rigidity of joints; cartilage damage from injuries

Treatment Goals: decrease pressure/tension on joint; decrease pain; increase range of motion, increase circulation for removal of toxins.
Techniques: traction, vibration, hydrotherapy (heat), moderate exercise to increase synovial fluid in joints, gentle stretching and gymnastics ok.

Cautions: Do not work on inflamed joints.

AMTA Client handout – (PDF) Easing the Pain of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Massage Found Effective for Chronic Hand Arthritis By Julie Engebretson,  Massage Today


Seeking Alternatives for Arthritis Sufferers Life Span–Chasing the Pain Away By Karrie Osborn Massage and Bodywork Magazine

Researching the Effects of Massage Therapy in Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis By Robin B. Anderson , CMT, NCTMB

Massage Today: Massage Found Effective for Chronic Hand Arthritis By Julie Engebretson, Associate Editor

Massage Today : Traumatic arthritis

From the Touch Research Institute

“Children with mild to moderate juvenile rheumatoid arthritis were massaged by their parents 15 minutes a day for 30 days (and a control group engaged in relaxation therapy). The children’s anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels were immediately decreased by the massage, and over the 30-day period their pain decreased on self-reports, parent reports, and their physician’s reports.

Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Seligman, S., Krasnegor, J. & Sunshine, W. (1997). Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: Benefits from massage therapy. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 22, 607-617.”

Spondylolisthesis: An Elusive Cause of Low Back Pain By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB

Recognizing Osteoarthritis
  By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB
Seeking Alternatives for Arthritis Sufferers Life Span–Chasing the Pain Away By Karrie OsbornDigital Naturopath –OsteoArthritis , Rheumatoid Arthritis


Massage for Stress

Massage and Bodywork Articles

“Jangled” Adults Touch and the Stress Response System By Ruth Werner The Visible Effects of Stress Get a Grip on Anxiety and Ease a Troubled Face — and Mind By Barbara Hey

Stress and Pain Age the Body and Brain News Note By Lara Evans Bracciante

Turning the Tables on Stress News Note By Lara Evans Bracciante
Back from Hell Healing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder By Melinda Elliott
Massage Today Articles
Depression and the Stress Response System: Part I of III By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB Depression and the Stress Response System, Part II By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB Depression and the Stress Response System, Part III By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB

Life, Stress and Health By John Upledger, DO, OMM

Massage Reduces Stress in Breast Cancer Patients By Editorial Staff

The Mind Is the Source of Our Stress By Dale G. Alexander, LMT, MA, PhD and Lansing Barrett Gresham

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cell Patterns By Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D; guest author for John Upledger, DO, OMM

The Role of CranioSacral Therapy in Addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder By John Upledger, DO, OMM

Pathology : T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Definition: inflammation of a tendon or musculotendinous junction
Causes: overuse, repetitive stress, improper healing, or tearing from sustained overloading of muscle

Signs/Symptoms: pain, persistent pain worse at night, pain referral, pain worse after use, muscle weakness,  inflammation, limited ROM; usually occurs where the tendon attaches to the bone or where the muscle attaches to the tendon or in the tendon.
Common areas: rotator cuff tendonitis, infraspinatus tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, shin splints
Indications: Massage as per your level of training.  Trigger point treatments, relieve inflammation, re-educate movement. Slow to heal because of lack of vascularity.
Contraindications: Cortisone shots may be administered; Use caution

Types of Tendon Injuries by Whitney Lowe

When Is It Tendinitis? By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB

Achilles Tendinosis
by Whitney Lowe

Golfer’s Elbow  By Ben Benjamin, Ph

Tennis Elbow
  By Ben Benjamin, PhD

Temporal Mandibular Joint Syndrome

Definition: inflammation of the tendon sheath – the gliding surface of the tendon and surrounding sheath.
Causes: overuse, repetitive motion, repetitive strain, improper posture, misalignment
Signs/Symptoms: pain, inflammation, stiffness
Indications: Massage as per your level of training;  Reduce inflammation, relieve trigger points, realign problem area
Contraindications: None; Check for medications – steroids may be used in treatment.

Trigeminal Neuralgia
Definition: compression of fifth cranial nerve; may cause degeneration of nerve
Causes: vertebral misalignment, cranial misalignment, TMJ
Signs/Symptoms: pain in face area
Indications: Massage for pain reduction, realign problem areas
Contraindications: None. Refer to appropriate health care provider.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Definition: compression of brachial nerve plexus; C8-T1; may also be referred to as Brachial Plexus syndrome which may involve C5-C8.

Causes:  tightness in pectoral muscles, intercostals, muscles around clavicle, upper back, neck; misalignment in one or all or these areas; disc protrusion or herniation, fibromyalgia, degenerative changes in the spine causing nerve impingement, inter-scalene triangle impingement, fibrositis of the cervical and shoulder area,
Signs/Symptoms: pain in arm, shoulder, hand, forearm; cold hands and fingers due to compression of axillary artery
Indications: Massage; realignment and release compression
Contraindications: none; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner; Have clear diagnosis to rule out neuritis.

see also massage treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome

Definition: inflammation of a vein
Causes: thrombus(blood clot) from trauma, environmental allergies, lack of exercise and movement, standing for long periods of time, aging, poor circulation, abnormal clotting
Signs/Symptoms: swelling, pain, discoloration of the skin (bluish)
Indications: massage above area
Contraindications: Do not work directly on the area involved

Definition: wry neck, asymmetry in the strength or function of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle causing rotation of the head to one side with a tilt in another direction (lateral, forward or backwards)
Causes: bad sleeping position, stress, TMJ, vertebral misalignment, spasm in SCM, emotional trauma,
Signs/Symptoms: pain, lack of rotation of the neck
Indications: massage to relieve muscle contraction, realign problem areas, lengthen SCM
Contraindications: none; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

Definition: infectious disease of the lungs
Causes: bacterial
Signs/Symptoms: flulike symptoms, cough, chest pain, fever, night sweats, shortness of breath
Contraindications: Refer to Physician; Highly contagious

Urinary Incontinence

The Pelvic Floor Paradox Leon Chaitow, ND, DO (U.K.)

Varicose Veins
Definition: abnormally enlarged veins
Causes: improper functioning of the valves in the veins, weakened linings of the wall of the vein, injury, trauma, vitamin C deficiency, overweight, lack of exercise, pregnancy
Signs/Symptoms: bulging, blue veins, usually in the legs
Indications: Massage around vein
Contraindications: do not work directly on vein; Refer to Naturopath and/or Acupuncturist for treatment of nutritional deficiencies

Definition: small growths on skin
Causes: viruses
Signs/Symptoms: bumps on skin, singly or in clusters
Indications: Massage
Contraindications: Avoid direct contact with area; may be contagious

Definition: traumatic injury to the neck most commonly associated with car accident; acceleration/deceleration
Causes: rapid deceleration, injuries, trauma
Signs/Symptoms: dizziness, pain in neck, muscle guarding, TMJ, inner ear disturbances, concussions
Indications: Massage as per your level of training. treatment differs as to type of accident (rear end collision, head on collision or side impact collision)
Contraindications: Have Physician evaluate traumatic injuries

Whiplash by Whitney Lowe Massage Magazine

Links :
Acceleration-deceleration injuries: ‘Whiplash Syndrome’
Judith DeLany, LMT


Pathology – S

Definition: skin infection
Causes: parasites; mites

Signs/Symptoms: itching, persistent itchy rash, dry scaly skin, highly contagious by skin to skin contact
Indications: N/A
Contraindications: refer to Physician for diagnosis

Definition: inflammation of the sciatic nerve
Causes: nerve root impingement caused by disc protrusion or herniation, adhesions at the nerve root, fibrosis, degenerative joint disease, piriformis syndrome, fibromyalgia
Signs/Symptoms: pain in buttocks, referring down leg, low back pain, burning, tingling
Indications: Massage to relieve spasm in piriformis, psoas, adductors, iliotibial band; balance pelvis, structural realignment.
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner to diagnose disc problems. Refer to appropriate health care practitioner for nutritional, diet and lifestyle changes.

A Case Report of the Treatment of Piriformis Syndrome
Applying Modalities of Therapeutic Bodywork
  By Peggi Honig


Definition: disease of the connective tissue of the body primarily the skin, but can affect many organs such as the gastrointestinal tract, heart, lungs, kidneys; normal tissue is replaced with fibrous connective tissue.
Causes: metabolism disorder of connective tissue and its ground substance, microvascular abnormalities, autoimmune system
Signs/Symptoms: pain and stiffness in finger and knee joints, edema and thickening of the skin, cold or cold sensitive hands and feet, difficulty breathing, hypertension, hyperthyroid, flexion contracture,  yellow or white round or oval plaques with red and blue hyperemia at the edge of them; plaques often follow the distribution of a cutaneous nerve; may have Raynaud’s phenomenon or renal disease
Indications: Massage to warm skin, maintain skin elasticity, reduce pain, elicit parasympathetic response
Contraindications: ROM may be limited due to tension of the skin. If breathing is difficult, may have to treat sitting up. Cold therapy and extreme heat should be avoided. Check medications.  Refer to appropriate health care provider.
Link – Scleroderma Support

Definition: mental illness
Causes: unknown; stress, complications during birth, head injury, virus, environmental poisons, nutritional deficiencies, heredity, neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain
Signs/Symptoms: disordered thinking and perception, depression, behavioral disturbances, delusions, loss of contact with reality
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and removal of toxins
Contraindications: Check for Medications

Definition: lateral curvature of the spine
Causes: muscular tightness, muscular weakness, poor posture, emotional trauma, injury, degeneration of the spine, bony abnormalities, congenital
Signs/Symptoms: rotation and lateral flexion of the spine accompanied with fixed rotation of the vertebrae, poor posture, muscle pain due to imbalances
Indications: Massage to correct and reduce curvature, decompress structures, movement re-education
Contraindications: None

Scoliosis : A Case Study of Deep Tissue Massage by Erik Dalton

Symptomatic Scoliosis (PDF) by Erik Dalton

Getting it Straight
Scoliosis and Structural Integration

By Lana Lensman


Seasonal Affective Disorder
Definition: depression that occurs in the winter due to shorter and darker days
Causes: lack of sunlight, poor diet, stress
Signs/Symptoms: loss of energy, anxiety, sleep often, reduced sex drive, weight gain due to overeating
Indications: massage for stress reduction and relaxation of tense muscles
Contraindications: None; refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

Sebaceous Cyst
Definition: skin growth that contain a mixture of sebum (oil) and skin proteins
Causes: toxins, bacterial or viral infection
Signs/Symptoms: whitehead, swellings on the face, scalp and back
Indications: Massage for detoxification and stress reduction
Contraindications: Avoid inflamed area

Seborheic dermatitis
Definition: skin disorder of the sebaceous glands (oil secreting glands)
Causes: unknown; but may be nutritional deficiencies, yeast infection, stress, anxiety, oily skin, Parkinson’s disease, immune deficiencies, food allergies
Signs/Symptoms: occur mainly on the scalp, face and chest, may or may not itch, scaly bumps
Indications: Massage for stress reduction
Contraindications: Avoid any inflamed areas

Seborrheid Keratosis ( Basal cell papilloma)
Definition: benign superficial epithelial tumors
Causes: nutritional deficiencies, toxin build up
Signs/Symptoms: yellow to tan to brown to black lesions that are raised above the skin
Indications: Massage for stress reduction
Contraindications: None

Seizure – see Epilepsy

Separations (joints)
Definition: separation of the joints in a side to side manner
Causes: trauma, consistent overuse of joint
Signs/Symptoms: pain, swelling, loss of ROM, excessive scar tissue formation around the joint during healing. Common area – Acromioclavicular; head of humerous forced into the acromion process tearing the acromioclavicular ligament.
Indications: Massage  for inflammation according to your level of training.
Contraindications: Refer to physician for complete separations characterized by complete displacement of the joints

Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Definition: skin inflammation
Causes: virus; immune deficiencies, stress, cancer
Signs/Symptoms: chills, fever, achiness, blistering of skin, with excruciating pain, sensitivity to touch, numbness, depression, headache, blisters scab over and fall off
Indications: N/A
Contraindications: Highly contagious

Comforting Clients with Postherpetic Neuralgia Pathology Perspectives By Ruth Werner


Shin Splints
Understanding Overpronation  By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB

Shoulder Pain

Soft-tissue Massage for Shoulder Pain

Sinusitis ( acute/chronic)
Definition: inflammation of the nasal sinuses
Causes: excess mucus production from poor digestion, bacterial or viral production, hay fever, food allergies
Signs/Symptoms: fever, cough, headache, facial pain, cranial pressure, tenderness in the forehead and cheekbones, stuffy nose, runny nose
Indications: Massage for detoxification and stress reduction. Sinus pressure points in upper, medial corner of eyes, along ridge of cheekbone; cervical misalignment, TMJ, cranial misalignment.
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

Sjögrens Syndrome
Definition: autoimmune connective tissue disorder
Causes: hormonal changes, stress
Signs/Symptoms: dryness of the mouth and eyes, salivary gland enlargement may be present, rheumatoid arthritis; mainly in menopausal or postmenopausal women
Indications: Massage for stress reduction
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner

Skin Cancer
Definition: cancer of the skin
Basal cell carcinoma– most common, prevalent in fair skinned people, pearly looking bump that may bleed and never heal.

Squamous cell carcinoma– lump or tumor under the skin, appearance of a wart or small ulcerated spot that never heals, may be from overexposure to sun
Malignant Melanoma-most dangerous, tumor grows from the pigment producing cells of the deeper layers of the skin; most from moles.
Causes: overexposure to sun and tanning salons, environmental pollutants, destruction of the ozone layer
Signs/Symptoms: skin problems that don’t heal, moles that bleed, moles that change in size and color, reddish irritated spot, smooth growth with an elevated border and indented center, shiny scar like area that is white, yellow or waxy.
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and detoxification
Contraindications: Lesions may be removed with cryotherapy; Use caution around these areas.
Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

Skin Conditions

Spotlight on Research: Massage Effective in Treating Young Children’s Skin Conditions   By Michael Devitt, contributing edito

Sleep apnea
Definition: sleep disturbance; apnea means without breath.
Causes: high blood pressure, nutritional deficiencies such as calcium and magnesium, lack of exercise, poor diet, excess mucus, blocked nasal passageways (deviated septum), adrenal distress, hormonal changes
Signs/Symptoms: irregular breathing, snoring, oxygen deprivation, fatigue, feeling unrested after sleep, TMJ, cervical and cranial misalignment
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and relieve tension in neck, shoulders and back, cranial realignment, cervical realignment
Contraindications: none; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner; Bach Flower Remedies, Homeopathy, Naturopath

University of Maryland Medical Center – Information on using homeopathy and alternative medicine.

Medline Plus

 Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Is Associated with
Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Daytime Sleepiness: Role of
Insulin Resistance*
Sleep Research and Treatment Center (A.N.V., E.O.B., A.K.), Department of Psychiatry,

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Printed in U.S.A.
Copyright © 2001 by The Endocrine Society

Definition:  sudden painful contraction of muscle
Causes: trauma, injury, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies
Signs/Symptoms: pain, tightness
Indications: Massage to relieve tightness
Contraindications: none

Spina bifida
Definition: congenital disorder of the vertebral column in which the lamina do not unite at the midline
Causes: disease or sickness during pregnancy
Signs/Symptoms: protrusion of the spinal cord, urinary difficulties, absence of reflexes
Indications: Massage ok

Web resources:

Spinal Cord Injuries

Working with clients with Spinal Cord Injuries by Ruth Werner

Massage for Spinal-Cord Injury

Spondylothesis/spondylosis- see arthritis

Spondylolisthesis: An Elusive Cause of Low Back Pain By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB

Sprains (see section on Muscle Strains)
Definition: injury to ligaments (may also involve muscles or tendons); tears in ligaments

Causes: injury, overexertion, over stretching, unexpected movement
Signs/Symptoms: pain, inflammation, bruising, swelling; gradual or sudden onset; hyper-mobile and unstable- joint, sharp pain. Common areas – ankle, knee, wrist, whiplash, joint separation or dislocation.
Indications: Massage according to your level of training. Reduce inflammation, vascular flush, Trigger point to regain flexibility, movement re-education
Contraindications: Traction may aggravate injury if it involves the injured ligaments. Traumatic injuries should be assessed by physician to determine severity.  Naturopath and Acupuncturist to speed healing with natural anti-inflammatories.

Definition: eye disorder in which optic axes cannot be directed to the same  object
Causes: lack of muscular coordination
Signs/Symptoms: squinting
Indications: Massage for stress reduction; eye exercises
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner; Bates vision specialist.

Definition: injury to muscle or tendon; rupture or tear
Causes: overexertion, over stretching, not enough rest after exertion, pushing a weak muscle beyond its abilities
Signs/Symptoms: spasm, pain, swelling, loss of movement; gradual or sudden onset.
Level 1 – 1% to 50% partial tear of fibers; some loss of function, can hold against resistance with pain, swelling, muscle guarding
Level 2 – 50%-90% fiber tear; cannot hold against moderate resistance but may hold against gravity, pain, swelling, edema, muscle guarding
Level 3 – 100% tear of fibers; snap heard at time of injury, no resistance possible, may or may not have pain
Indications: Massage according to your level of training. Reduce inflammation,  Trigger point to regain flexibility, movement re-education
Contraindications: Traumatic injuries should be assessed by physician to determine severity.  100% tear needs to be referred to physician immediately. Naturopath and Acupuncturist to speed healing with natural anti-inflammatories.

Muscle Strains By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB

Hamstring Strain by Whitney Lowe Massage Magazine

Definition: any physical, mental, emotional, chemical, stimulus that interferes with the body’s natural balance
Causes: nutritional deficiencies, work, holidays, family, noise, traffic, temperature, overwork, lack of sleep, illness, drug and alcohol abuse. improper breathing; increase of cortisol in body weakens immune system.
Signs/Symptoms: fatigue, insomnia, muscle tension, high blood pressure, irritability, anxiety, stomach disorders, all physical, mental and emotional illnesses, sexual dysfunction, muscle aches, headaches
Indications: MASSAGE
Contraindications: None. Refer to appropriate health care practitioner to assist with eliminating the cause of stress and changing lifestyles.

The Mind Is the Source of Our Stress
  By Dale G. Alexander, PhD, LMT and Lansing Barrett Gresham

“Jangled” Adults

Touch and the Stress Response System By Ruth Werner

Depression and the Stress Response System: Part I of III By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB
Part II , Part III

See more articles on Stress and Massage

Stroke (CVA/TIA)- see CVA
Massage Benefits Stroke Patients

 Massage Today – Pictures of results of using massage with stroke patients.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – see Lupus

Subluxation/ fixation
Definition: deviation in articular cartilage; vertebral misalignment
Causes: muscular tightness, stress, food allergies, injury, trauma, inadequate muscle tone and awareness
Signs/Symptoms: pain, muscle spasm, muscle strength imbalance
Indications: Massage to relieve muscle spasm and tension, movement re-education and awareness exercises
Contraindications: none

Substance Abuse
Definition: addiction to drugs, alcohol, smoking
Causes: nutritional deficiencies, stress, emotional disturbances

Signs/Symptoms: their life is a mess
Indications: Massage for stress reduction
Contraindications: Be aware of side effects of medications. Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

Pathology -R

Raynaud’s disease
Definition: circulatory disease in the hands and feet with sensitivity to cold

Causes: stress, side effect of some drugs, muscle tightness and compression syndromes
Signs/Symptoms: fingers deprived of oxygen turn blue or white, damage may occur to nails
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and relieve any compressed areas
Contraindications: Gangrene may occur in extreme cases; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.
Web resources: Raynaud’s foundation
Wayne State University

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Definition: Sympathetic Nervous System Disorder
Causes: Trauma, injury, stress
Signs/Symptoms: burning pain, swelling, osteoporsis, skin changes, muscle spasm, joint tenderness, vasoconstriction and dilation, usually in hand or foot but can be other places, may lead to weakness and atrophy
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and relieve spasms. Check postural alignment.
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner

Working with clients who have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy by Ruth Werner

Repetitive Stress Syndrome
Defintion: a combination of conditions which include tendonitis, tenosynovitis, neuralgia, and neuritis
Causes: overuse, poor nutrition, stress
Signs/Symptoms: burning pain, tingling, increased pain with movement, numbness, swelling, inflammation, weakness, reduced mobility, reduced motor ability
Indications: Get clear diagnosis. Reduce inflammation, reduce adhesions, reduce joint stiffness and pain, minimize atrophy
Contraindications: Check for steroid medications

Restless Leg Syndrome
Definition: uncontrollable urge to move legs usually occurring at night
Causes: Unknown; possible causes are drug reaction, brain chemistry imbalance, iron deficiency, pregnancy, neuropathy, improper diet, lack of exercise
Signs/Symptoms: nocturnal leg cramping, muscle tightness, urge to move due to uncomfortable sensations, symptoms may worsen with relaxation, burning feet, fibromyalgia, sleep problems
Indications: Massage to relieve tightness in legs, triggerpoint therapy, stretching program
Contraindications: Relaxation may worsen condition in some cases. Refer to appropriate health care practitioner for nutritional support and treatment. Possible medications for treatment include sinemet, valium, percodan, percocet.
Links –

Rheumatoid Arthritis – see arthritis

Definition: fungal infection of the skin
Causes: fungus
Signs/Symptoms: scaly, crusty cracking of the skin
Indications: do not use oil or lotion as fungus thrive in moist areas
Contraindications: No oil or lotion; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner

Definition: chronic skin disorder of the forehead, face and chin
Causes: unknown; may be related to alcohol consumption, poor digestion, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, stress
Signs/Symptoms: capillaries become dilated causing blotchy areas with pimples, skin may be sensitive to touch
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and removal of toxins and to stimulate digestion
Contraindications: None; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

Rotator Cuff Injuries and Problems

See the section on rotator cuff injuries

Stretching for preventing rotator cuff injuries

Rotator Cuff Problems
  By Joel Schwartz, DC

Pathology : P

Paget’s Disease
Definition: disease of bones; bones are replaced with structurally deficient bone deficient in calcium and weaker than normal
Causes: unknown; may be viral infection, heredity; often confused with hyperthyroidism, bone cancer;  must be diagnosed with bone scans, CT scans, MRI, urine tests, and bone biopsy
Signs/Symptoms: mild to moderate pain, worse with exertion, unexplained bone fractures, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, impaired mobility, may cause deformities such as bowed legs, bent spine
Indications: N/A; Reiki
Contraindications: Massage not recommended because of the lack of structure of the bones

Definition: inflammation of the pancreas; usually from an obstruction of the pancreatic duct
Causes: gallstones, scarring from alcohol damage, cancerous tumor, viral infection, injury, obesity, poor nutrition, drug use
Signs/Symptoms: pain around navel area and back, nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling and distention, fever, sweating , muscle aches, digestive difficulties
Indications: Massage for stress and pain reduction
Contraindications: Refer to Physician: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner after stabilized for treatment

Definition: diminished or total loss of motor function
Causes: trauma, injury, nerve impingement or compression, tumors
Signs/Symptoms: weakness, loss of movement, loss of muscle tone
Indications: Massage for relief of impingement or compression: movement reeducation for complete paralysis
Contraindications: Caution: unable to feel pain

Parkinson’s Disease
Definition: degenerative disease of the nervous system
Causes: unknown; related to lack of dopamine in brain, dopamine receptors blocked; chemical toxicity
Sign/Symptoms: tremor of hand or hands, fatigue, muscular stiffness, muscular rigidity, shuffling gait, impaired speech, depression, dementia
Indications: Massage to reduce stiffness, stress
Contraindications: Medications for this disease can cause kidney, liver problems, more stiffness, discoloration of skin, nightmares, fatigue. Refer to Naturopath and Acupuncturist for detoxification and treatment



Massage Reduces Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsonism by Ruth Werner

Parkinsonism Redux: The Movers and the Shakers of the World by Ruth Werner

Massage and Parkinson’s Disease: A Few Lessons Learned
  By John Slavin, PhD, LMT
Bodywork and Parkinson’s Patients A Strong Combination By Dietrich W. Miesler, MA, CMT

How to Help People With Parkinson’s By Ben Benjamin, PhD Massage Today


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Definition: inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and surrounding tissue
Causes: bacteria introduced through intercourse, gonorrhea
Signs/Symptoms: pelvic pain, painful abscesses of the reproductive organs, vaginal discharge, fever
Indications: N/A
Contraindications: Refer to Physician

Peripheral Neuropathy
Definition: disturbances and/or pathological changes in the peripheral( lies outside the central nervous system) nervous system
Causes: diabetic neuropathy, ischemic neuropathy, trauma
Signs/Symptoms: numbness, burning, pain
Indications: Massage Ok
Contraindications: Have underlying condition diagnosed by appropriate health care practitioner

Definition: acute inflammation of the serous membrane lining the abdominal cavity and covering the abdominal viscera
Causes: bacterial infection, bacterial contamination from surgery or trauma
Indications: N/A
Contraindications: Refer to Physician as it may spread to other organs

Definition: inflammation of a vein
Causes: blood clot, trauma, weakening of the vein due to aging
Signs/Symptoms: edema, stiffness, pain, red streak in vein; often found in leg
Contraindications: Refer to Physician


Piriformis Syndrome

A Case Report of the Treatment of Piriformis Syndrome
Applying Modalities of Therapeutic Bodywork
  By Peggi Honig

Plantar Fasciitis – see medical massage treatments

Understanding Overpronation  By Whitney Lowe, LMT, NCTMB

Definition: serious infection of the lungs
Causes: viral, bacterial, fungi, protozoa, upper respiratory infection, immune deficiency
Signs/Symptoms: fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, enlarged lymph nodes
Indications: Massage at your own risk; may be contagious. Massage for stress reduction
Contraindications: Refer to Physician if symptoms worsen or persist.

Poliomyelitis (Polio)
Definition: infection of the central nervous system
Causes: viral
Signs/Symptoms: fever, headache, stiff neck and back, deep muscle pain, weakness, loss of somatic reflexes, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, breathing and speaking, lower body paralysis,
Indications: Massage ok
Contraindications: None. Some one with childhood polio can have symptoms later in life. Caution advised when working with infant who just had polio vaccine as virus may be transmitted in bodily fluids.

Post Traumatic Stress

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the Touch Research Institute.

Massage therapy decreased the anxiety, depression and stress hormone levels (cortisol) of children who had post-traumatic stress disorder following Hurricane Andrew. In addition, their drawings became less depressed.
Field, T., Seligman, S., Scafidi, F., & Schanberg, S. (1996). Alleviating postraumatic stress in children following Hurricane Andrew. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 17, 37-50.

Postural Deviations (Lordosis, Kyphosis, scoliosis)
Definition: structural abnormalities
Causes: due to weakness, tightness
Signs/Symptoms: poor posture
Indications: Massage for realignment, postural re-education
Contraindications: None

Definition: time between conception and birth
Signs/Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, fatigue
Indications: see section on Pregnancy Massage Guidelines
Contraindications: See section on Pregnancy Massage Guidelines

Perineal Massage May Reduce Third-Degree Tears, Labor Time

Maintaining Core Integrity During Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery
  By Elaine Stillerman, LMT
The Truth About Pitocin
  By Elaine Stillerman, LMT
Prenatal Massage During the First Trimester
  By Elaine Stillerman, LMT

Definition: inflammation of the pleural membrane
Causes: from surgical procedure, persistent coughing, trauma
Signs/Symptoms: pain at sides of ribs, pain with breathing
Indications: Massage to relieve pain, intercostal work; breathing exercises
Contraindications: Caution if from trauma

Premenstrual Syndrome
Definition: disorder in women before menstruation
Causes: hormonal fluctuations and imbalances, poor diet consisting of sugar and processed foods, food allergies, hypoglycemia, malabsorption
Signs/Symptoms: abdominal bloating, fatigue, cramps, headaches, insomnia, joint pain, mood swings, depression
Indications: Massage for stress reduction, headache relief, removal of toxins, reduce tension
Contraindications: touch sensitivity may be heighten during this time, also may be more easily
bruised.  Refer to appropriate health care practitioner. Nutrition and diet need to be addressed.

Massage Relieves Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome

Massage and PMS Help for the Monthly Blues By Shirley Vanderbilt


Definition: skin disease
Causes: heredity, trauma, infections, seasonal, stress, illness, viral or bacterial infection, overuse of drugs or alcohol, reaction to medications, faulty utilization of fat, weakened immune system, build up of toxins in colon
Signs/Symptoms: silvery scales or red area on skin, ridges on nails, itching
Indications: Massage for detoxification and stress reduction
Contraindications: Avoid infected area; Refer to Naturopath and Acupuncturist for detoxification, diet modification and treatment

Dealing With Psoriasis
  By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB