Causes: Environmental factors, diet, alcohol consumption, high fat diets, low fiber diets, free radical damage
Signs/Symptoms: too many to mention; bruising, enlarged lymph nodes, sores that do not heal, weight loss, fatigue, low back pain, indigestion, lump or tumor under skin
Indications: Massage is ok for people with cancer. Check with their Doctor if you are unsure of anything.
Contraindications: It used to be thought that massage would spread cancer, but that notion is now obsolete. Consult with referring physician and client get permission from both. Refer to Naturopath and/or acupuncturist for immune support, cleansing and nutritional counseling. Get training in Oncology Massage.
See also Clinical Massage Section on Cancer
Cheryl Chapman is a pioneer in massage for Cancer and Mastectomy.
Medicine Hands: Massage for People Living with Cancer: A Basic Training Course for Massage Practitioners and Students, Bodyworkers, and Other Professional Touch Therapists by Gayle MacDonald
Breast Massage and Cancer
A Study of Foot Massage and Cancer Symptom By Tracy Walton, LMT, Ms
- Developments in Oncology Massage
- By Tracy Walton, LMT, Ms
- Studying the Benefits of Massage for Advanced Cancer Patients
- By Julie Engebretson, Associate Editor
Learning From the Largest Study on Cancer and Massage By Tracy Walton, LMT, Ms
Massage and Cancer Ask a Therapist By Gayle MacDonald
Oncology: Bodywork for Cancer Patients The Need for a Less-Demanding Approach By Gayle MacDonald
Oncology: Cancer and Human Connection The Making of an Oncology Massage Therapist By Shirley Vanderbilt
Massage and the Cancer Patient The Courage of Touch
By Gayle MacDonald
Definition: Inflammation in tendon sheaths in the carpal tunnel that compresses the median nerve in the wrist (supplies sensation to the thumb, forefinger, middle finger and half of ring finger)
Causes: Subluxation of carpal bones, bone spurs, sustained wrist flexion, inflammatory arthritis, water retention, tendinitis, repetitive stress syndrome, misalignment of hands while performing repetitive tasks such as computer work, carpentry, massage; Other injuries to the neck, shoulder, wrist, may be present. Factors that increase chances of getting carpal tunnel include menopause, pregnancy, Raynaud’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus.
Signs/Symptoms: mild numbness and faint tingling to excruciating pain and atrophy of the muscles of the thumb; reduced fine motor skills, burning, tingling, numbness in the thumb and 1st three fingers (never the little finger ); feels like pins and needles, falling asleep, weakening of the thumb; symptoms often worse at night or in the morning when circulation is reduced. Pain may spread to forearm and shoulder; symptoms may be confused with thoracic outlet syndrome or may be due to ulnar nerve entrapment in elbow. Tap on wrist nerve to elicit symptoms. Diagnosis is through a nerve conduction test.
Indications: Massage is necessary to heal this condition. Check alignment of shoulder, elbow and wrist. Release adhesions in forearm flexors, skin rolling. Retinaculum release at wrist. Stretching, posture and ergonomics should be addressed. Muscles involved are the Flexor Digitorum Superficialis, Flexor Digitorum Profundus, Flexor Pollicis Longus and Pronator Quadratus
Contraindications: Refer to physician for diagnosis to determine if it is neuritis or neuralgia. Naturopath can recommend supplements such as B6 to reduce water retention and other anti-inflammatory reactions and reduce oxalic acid consumption. Acupuncture also recommended.
Russian Sports Massage for Violinists’ Carpal Tunnel Syndrome By Zhenya Kurashova Wine
See also: clinical massage section
Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment (Lww Massage Therapy & Bodywork Series) (Hardcover)
by James H. Clay, David M. Pounds
Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding, Assessing and Treating Over 70 Conditions (Paperback)
by Fiona Rattray (Author), Linda Ludwig (Author)
Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual (2-Volume Set) (Hardcover)
by David G. Simons, Janet G. Travell, Lois S. Simons, Barbara D. Cummings
Definition: Mass of connected boils
Causes: same as boils
Indications: Massage ok, may assist healing
Contraindications: Avoid inflamed area and direct pressure on carbuncle
Celiac Disease, Part 1: What Is Going On Here? By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB Part 2
Definition: Group of motor disorders
Causes: damage to motor areas of brain; could be inutero, during birth or infancy; May be due to mother having German measles, radiation: temporary oxygen deprivation in birth or hydrocephalus in infancy
Signs/Symptoms: Appear to be mentally retarded but are usually more capable than they appear;
Indications: massage for relaxation
Contraindications: Check with physician
Working with Clients Who Have Cerebral Palsy By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB Massage Today
Cerbrovascular Accidents (CVA/Stroke)
Definition: Damage to the brain due to lack of oxygen.
Causes: Atherosclerosis, embolisms (blood clot, air bubble, or debris from inflammation), intercerebral hemorrhage( rupture of vessel in the pia matter or brain)
Signs/Symptoms: Weakness or paralysis, headache, numbness, blurred or double vision, blurred speech, confusion, dizziness, difficulty speaking or understanding; usually affecting one side of the body. People at risk usually have high blood pressure, smoke, high cholesterol, high alcohol consumption, obese, diabetes, stress.
Indications: Massage ok for recovery; stress reduction
Contraindications: Work with physician : refer to appropriate health care practitioner for diet and lifestyle modifications and treatment of underlying conditions. May be on blood thinner medications. Acupuncture has assisted in recovery of speech, motor function.
Massage Benefits Stroke Patients
Massage Today – Pictures of results of using massage with stroke patients.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Definition: persistent fatigue that does not resolve with bed rest.
Causes: may be linked to Epstein-Barr virus, immune system problem, anemia, chronic mercury poisoning from dental fillings, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, candida overgrowth, sleep problems, poor nutrition, stress, poor nutrition.
Signs/Symptoms: aching muscles and joints, anxiety , depression, fever, headaches, intestinal problems, irritability, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, upper respiratory infections that reoccur, sore throat, swollen glands, temporary memory loss, sleep disturbances, fatigue.
Indications: Massage to relieve stress and muscle pain.
Contraindications: Fever. Check medications for possible contraindications; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner for diet and lifestyle changes.
See also fibromyalgia Clinical massage for fibromyalgia
Digital Naturopath – Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue
Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Practitioner’s Guide to Treatment
by Leon Chaitow
Chronic Pain By Ben Benjamin, PhD
- Chronic Pain and CranioSacral Therapy, Part 2 , Part 1
- By Tad Wanveer, LMT, CST-D; guest author for John Upledger, DO, OMM
Cirrhosis of the liver
Definition: Degenerative inflammatory disease that results in hardening and scarring of liver cells.
Causes: Excessive alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis, malnutrition and chronic inflammation.
Signs/Symptoms: Constipation or diarrhea, fever, upset stomach, dull heavy ache in upper right quadrant of abdomen, fatigue, weakness, poor appetite, weight loss, enlarged liver, vomiting, red palms, jaundice, anemia, bruising.
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and detoxification
Contraindications: Work with Physicians supervision in advanced stages
Colitis (ulcerative colitis)
Definition: Inflammation of mucous membranes of large intestine and colon
Causes: May be stress induced, poor eating habits, food allergies, bacteria.
Signs/Symptoms: diarrhea, bleeding, diverticula formation, pain, gas, bloating, hardening of stools
Indications: Massage for stress reduction; vibration over abdomen if allowed
Contraindications: Chronic conditions need direct supervision of physician. Refer to appropriate health care practitioner for diet, lifestyle, stress reduction and supplements.
Definition: malignant tumor in colon
Causes: Poor diet lacking in fiber and calcium, polyps, constipation, build up of toxins
Signs/Symptoms: Rectal bleeding, blood in stool, changes in bowel habits
Indications: With permission of client; assist in cleansing.
Contraindications: Work with referral from appropriate health care practitioner. Refer to Naturopath/Acupuncturist/Chiropractor for support. Caution if colostomy bag present.
Congestive Heart Failure
Definition: Left side of heart fails to function and pump blood effectively
Signs/Symptoms: fluid accumulates in the lungs, labored breathing after even mild exertion, edema in ankles and feet
Indications: May assist in removing excess fluids
Contraindications: Work with physician supervision; client may not be able to lay supine.
Definition: Inflammation of conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the eyelid and wraps around to cover most of the white of the eye
Causes: bacterial infection, injury, allergies, exposure to irritants, viral (highly contagious)
Signs/Symptoms: eyes swollen and blood shot, itchy and irritated, membrane filled with pus; eyes often stick together after being shut for awhile
Indications: Chamomile compresses, hot compresses
Contraindications: Avoid affected area; May be highly contagious! Refer to physician
Definition: Infrequent and/or painful elimination of waste through the large bowel
Signs/Symptoms: slow movement of bowels, hard, compacted dry stool, making elimination painful
Causes: Insufficient fiber and fluid intake, inadequate exercise, muscle disorders, bowel diseases, poor diet, iron supplements, drugs, pregnancy, metabolic disturbances
Signs/Symptoms: constipation can lead to appendicitis, bad breath, depression, diverticulitis, fatigue, headaches, indigestion, varicose veins
Indications: Massage over abdomen to stimulate peristalsis: May be related to medication; Recommend extra water intake
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner for nutritional counseling. If mass or obstruction present, refer immediately to physician.
Reflexology Eases Encopresis and Chronic Constipation
Definition: internal bleeding or hemorrhaging
Causes: trauma to soft tissue or muscles
Signs/Symptoms: bruising, pain; severe may have damage to periosteum of bone which could lead to ossification of muscle tissue
Indications: follow general treatment goals for stage of inflammation, ice compress, drainage in sub-acute stage, reduce muscle guarding and spasm
Contraindications: Refer to Physician if myositis ossificans is present
Definition: Inflammation of the skin in response to contact with irritant
Causes: allergies to chemicals, perfumes, cosmetics, plants
Signs/Symptoms: scaling, flaking, thickening of skin, itching
Indications: Massage Ok. Avoid any inflamed areas. Avoid use of scented oils or lotions
Contraindications: Make sure it is not a contagious irritant such as poison ivy or oak
Definition: Permanent contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.
Causes: Spasm, paralysis, fibrosis, or tissue ischemia, neurological damage, immobilization of area.
Signs/Symptoms: unable to be stretched passively
Indications: Massage to treat fibrosis and ischemia, lengthen muscles: Gentle stretching or PNF stretching.
Contraindications: Do Not stretch past resistance; When due to nerve damage contraindicated.
Definition: Involuntary muscle spasms
Causes: Epilepsy, eclampsia, meningitis, tetanus, poisoning, malnutrition, cervical disease, toxemia, insufficient calcium in diet, food poisoning
Contraindications: Refer to physician to determine cause
Definition: Overgrowth of skin usually on hands and feet
Causes: form in response to repeated pressure or contact, bacterial infection, misalignment of foot, improper diet with heavy intake of fats, sugars causing imbalances in acid/alkaline balance
Indications: look at posture and realign areas to reduce stress: castor oil or epsom salt poultices
Contraindications: Avoid any inflamed areas.
Definition: Inflammation and ulceration of the digestive tract usually chronic and long lasting
Causes: viral, bacteria, stress, food allergies, free radical damage, lack of Vitamin C and/or E
Signs/Symptoms: chronic diarrhea, pain in abdomen, fever, malabsorption, loss of energy, anemia, headaches, vomiting, bowel obstructions
Indications: Massage Ok; stress reduction and detoxification
Contraindications: Work under supervision of Naturopath, Acupuncturist, Physician
There is some evidence that crohn’s may be caused by a pathogen called Mcobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis or MAP found in meat and dairy herds. Treatment involves high doses of powerful anti-biotics and probiotics to fight the effects of the anti-biotics killing all of the good bacteria in the intestines. For more information see
Restoring Your Digestive Health: How the Guts and Glory Program Can Transfom Your Life (Paperback)
by Jordan Rubin, Joseph Brasco
Definition: genetic disorder of a gene that gives instructions for a protein; affects exocrine glands, pancreas, sweat glands, digestive and respiratory systems
Signs/Symptoms: chronic wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, recurrent lung infections, malnutrition, excessive salt in sweat glands
Indications: Massage Ok; Loosen mucus in lungs with percussion
Contraindications: Work with Physician, Naturopath, Acupuncturist; Caution – May be on steroids
Definition: Inflammation of the bladder
Causes: infection of bacteria, clamydia; Occurs more in women
Signs/Symptoms: urgency of urination, painful burning urination, blood in urine
Contraindications: Refer to Naturopath that uses homeopathic remedies and natural treatments such as cranberry, colloidal silver, goldenseal, vitamin C; Refer to appropriate health care provider.
- Cysts, Cysts, Cysts!
- By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB