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Have One of These 5 Health Conditions? See a Massage Therapist.

Published on December 6, 2017 by Broadview University

student massage therapist working with client, client seated in massage chair

Massages aren’t just for those seeking an escape from the day-to-day demands of life. While the health benefits of bodywork have been known to many for some time, more recently massage therapy has become a respected and relied-upon remedy in the traditional medical community.  Today, it’s not uncommon to see massage therapists working alongside doctors, nurses, and other providers as part of a patient’s treatment plan.

Stress and pain relief may immediately come to mind when thinking of conditions that may benefit from massage therapy. Here is a look at a few others.

Massage Therapy and High Blood Pressure

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) offers a number of resources to its member therapists, including links to research about the health benefits of massage. Among them is improved cardiovascular health. For instance, AMTA cites a study from the International Journal of Preventative Medicine which concluded that getting Swedish massage regularly is a safe, effective way to help decrease blood pressure in women with hypertension. Since high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, managing this condition is crucial to overall health.

Massage Therapy and Dementia

AMTA also reported that massage therapy can aid aging adults in many ways, from easing aches and pains to providing stress relief. But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is human touch. Older adults, especially those with dementia, often feel lonely and isolated. Massage Magazine explains that massage therapy can help improve the quality of life for dementia patients. The magazine suggests five- to ten-minute hand massages as being particularly effective in making patients feel better physically as well as in decreasing anxiety. The calming nature of massage can thus lead to better relations between caregivers and patient during routines.

Massage Therapy and Cancer

Massage Magazine reported that massage therapy is effective for cancer patients experiencing neuropathy—a condition whose symptoms are weakening, numbness, or pain, usually in hands or feet. Research from the National Cancer Institute revealed that many patients stop their cancer treatment due to chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. Oncology massage, for this reason, has grown in popularity to help patients cope with the side effects of some cancer treatments, such as fatigue, pain, or nausea.

Massage Therapy and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects a body’s nervous system, causing pain, muscular coordination problems, and sometimes anxiety and depression. Massage therapy, more specifically neuromuscular massage, can increase bloodflow to muscles, which softens tissues and can ease pain. Massage therapist Nancy Porambo told US News and World Report the reduced rigidity after massage gives the sympathetic nervous system a break, “which is rejuvenating and allows the body to heal.”

Massage Therapy and Gastrointestinal Issues

From time to time, people experience constipation due to diet or gastrointestinal conditions. Over-the-counter remedies such as laxatives can provide relief for this condition. However, massage can also aid here. The International Journal of Nursing Studies published research that shows abdominal massage was more effective in relieving constipation—and related pain and discomfort—than laxatives alone.  If someone is prone to backing up, regular massage can help regulate his or her system.

AMTA offers a printable PDF that lists even more health conditions that may benefit from massage therapy, including reducing arthritic pain, improving sleep, and relieving anxiety. As with any treatment, patients or their family should check with a doctor first to make sure this option is safe.

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Massage therapy is a career in which you can help people heal. If this sounds like something you can see yourself doing, a degree in massage therapy may be right for you.

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