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Massage Therapy for Diabetes

Massage Therapy for Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The health benefits of massage are varied, but can it help in the management of diabetes? Find out what’s proven to work best, and what should you know about massage therapy for diabetes.

As more Americans incorporate CAM modalities into their health care, people with diabetes are also looking to complement their lifestyle with integrated medical care. Massage Therapy is a commonly-used modality for patients with diabetes. Learn how it can help you or a loved one with diabetes.

Abstract in Brief

Massage is among the fastest growing CAM therapies used in the United States. Here we present a brief review of the available evidence on potential benefits and adverse effects of massage for people with diabetes: Massage at injection sites may increase insulin absorption; uncontrolled studies suggest that massage may have a positive effect on blood glucose levels and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy; randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm any short- and long-term benefits of massage as a complementary treatment for diabetes and to further define an optimal massage treatment.

This article aims to clarify what is and is not known about the use of Massage Therapy for people with diabetes, with 4 frequently asked questions.

1. Can Massage Improve Insulin Absorption?

Our search found one study on insulin absorption in Type 1 diabetes. No studies were found on insulin absorption in Type 2 diabetes. Dillon observed that eight lean, well-controlled patients with Type 1 diabetes who massaged their insulin injection sites with an electric vibrator for 3 minutes at 15 minutes post-injection, experienced higher insulin levels and lower serum glucose levels by 15 minutes after the start of massage and 29 minutes post-injection, but these changes were not statistically significant. More significantly, serum glucose levels fell 8.3% lower (P < 0.05) 30 minutes after massage and 44 minutes post-injection compared to the control day when participants did not massage their injection sites. At 45 minutes post-massage, the difference in glucose levels was even more striking (76 mg/dl ± 6%) when compared to the control day (89 mg/dl ± 4%).

The same report revealed 2-year follow-up data on these eight patients, as well as on 18 others who had been massaging their injection sites for 3 minutes at each meal in order to achieve a  beneficial postprandial rise in insulin levels. After 3–6 months of massage, the mean HbA1 for the 26 patients fell from 10.56 ±1.73 to 8.55±1.69%. (Normal HbA1 was <8.2% according to the laboratory assay used.) After 12-18 months of injection-site massage, 8 patients had normal HbA1 levels, and the remaining 18 patients had mean HbA1 levels of 8.41 ±1.58%, a significant improvement from baseline (P < 0.001). Dillon proposed that injection-site massage can improve conventional insulin therapy by increasing the bioavailability of insulin in the postprandial state.

2. Can Massage Help Normalize Blood Glucose Levels?

Three published results of two trials and one unpublished preliminary study have examined the effects of massage on normalizing blood glucose.

Fields and colleagues, describing a single-group, pre/post-test design in two publications of the same study population, reported that after 1 month of parents administering nightly full-body massage to their  diabetic children (n = 14), the children’s glucose levels decreased from an average of 158 to 118 mg/dl. The authors also reported that both parents’ and children’s anxiety and depression levels decreased immediately after massage.

Vest trained clinical staff to administer 15-minute sessions of breathing instruction, light touch and acupressure to diabetic patients for 6 consecutive weeks using a one-group, pre/post-test design (n = 12). Patients had a reduction in blood glucose, anxiety, headaches, depression, work stress and anger. Self-reports also indicated the patients were sleeping better and had improved family relations. No P values were cited.

Preliminary data were available from one small trial comparing people with Type 2 diabetes receiving 45-minute full-body massage three times a week for 12 weeks (n = 6) to similar patients on a waiting list for massage (n = 2). Researchers found that of the 6 patients receiving massage, HbA1c decreased in 3 patients from a baseline of 7.9, 8.3, and 9.8% to 7.3, 8.1, and 8.6%, respectively. In the other three patients receiving massage, HbA1c increased from a baseline of 7.4, 8.2, and 8.0% to 7.9, 10.0, and 8.5%, respectively. These patients, whose glycemic control deteriorated while receiving massage, were obese, injecting insulin, or both. None of the group whose glycemic control improved with massage had either of these characteristics. In the waiting list control group, HbA1c level also declined from 7.3 and 8.6% to 6.9 and 8.4%, respectively.

3. Can Massage Provide Relief for Symptoms Associated With Diabetic Neuropathy?

Our search found one trial assessing the effects of massage on the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. This single-group, pre/post-test design assessed 25 patients with symmetrical diabetic neuropathy of the lower extremities and complaints of burning, tingling, pain, itching, restless legs, paresthesia and loss of reflexes. The duration of disease was 6–17 years, and the duration of neuropathic symptoms averaged 14 months. Massage was administered every 2 days, with the total number of treatments ranging from 20 to 30 in those who appeared to benefit. Therapy was discontinued after the tenth treatment for those who experienced no benefit.

Subjective outcomes were defined as no effect, improved or good. At the 1-month follow-up, results showed good response in 14 cases (56%), improvement in 8 cases (32%), and no effect in 3 cases (12%).

Question #4: What Contraindications or Precautions Are Related to Massage for People With Diabetes?

A potential adverse effect of massage for diabetes appears to be the risk of inducing hypoglycemia in insulin-using patients. This risk is extrapolated from massage studies using healthy volunteers. None of the studies of massage and diabetes reports adverse effects.

In the study of massage for diabetic neuropathy, Kurashova specifically cites contraindications and precautions for people with diabetes. In the beginning, it is recommended to use only continuous effleurage. Massage should begin with 5-7 minutes on the back, then proceed to the posterior thigh and calf. 20-30 minutes total on the posterior body; then 10–15 minutes on anterior extremities. For patients with peripheral nerve damage, gentle friction of the lower extremities can be added only after 7–10 treatments of effleurage have been completed.

Because vascular dysfunction may render the tissues fragile, friction should be light to avoid vascular damage or bruising. In swollen areas, friction should be avoided because the direct pressure into the tissues that is characteristic of friction may further close the dysfunctioning vessels. Pressure should be sufficiently light to cause no pain.

SUMMARY

Massage at an insulin injection site can significantly increase serum insulin action, thereby decreasing blood glucose levels in people with Type 1 diabetes. It is unknown whether massage can improve insulin sensitivity and therefore be a useful adjunct to management of Type 2 diabetes.

Uncontrolled studies suggest that massage may help normalize blood glucose and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to further clarify what an optimal massage treatment might be and to elucidate any short- and long-term benefits of massage as a complementary treatment for diabetes.

How Massage Helps People with Diabetes

How Massage Helps People with Diabetes

Image result for diabetes monthIn recognition of November as Diabetes Awareness Month, we explore the benefits of massage therapy for people with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, one out of every 11 people currently has diabetes. But what is more worrisome, is that one out of every four of people in the United States do not know they have diabetes.

Diabetes comes in two forms: Type I, which is not preventable and in which the body does not produce enough insulin, or Type II, which is preventable and in which the body cannot process insulin correctly.

A sedentary lifestyle combined with consuming more processed foods high in sugar and high fructose corn syrup are cited as common causes of the rise in Type II diabetes in the U.S. The cost of lost work time and healthcare associated with diabetes is an estimated $245 billion a year. This is a serious condition that is impacting the quality of life for many Americans.

Early symptoms of diabetes include: Frequent thirst, dramatic mood swings, chronic cold feet, tender areas of the body, leg cramps, puffy feet and loss of sensitivity in the feet. These symptoms are very representative of some of the complications that people living with diabetes experience: nerve damage, foot problems and skin conditions.

Nerve damage from diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. About half of all diabetics have some degree of nerve damage. Regulating blood glucose levels is the best way to delay diabetic neuropathy or prevent further damage. The most common form of neuropathy is called peripheral neuropathy, which affects the legs and feet (enter foot complications). Peripheral neuropathy can cause loss of feeling, so one can injure their foot and not know it. This can lead to untreated injuries or infections. Diabetes causes poor circulation in general, and one of the areas most commonly affected by this is the feet. Blood vessels can narrow and harden, leading to a reduced ability to fight infection and heal, and chronic cold feet. This is why people living with diabetes are more likely to have lower limbs amputated than others.

Image result for massageMassage therapy is one of the best ways for diabetics to manage peripheral neuropathy. Massage of the lower extremities improves circulation in the legs and feet. Massage helps manage muscle and foot pain, improves and balances stress levels, which helps alleviate the mood swings that can result from changes in glucose levels.

Evidently massage has been recommended as a treatment for conditions related to diabetes for more than 100 years. A recent literature review on alternative therapies for diabetes was published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences. It touts the benefits of massage for people living with diabetes: Three published results of two trials and one unpublished preliminary study have examined the positive effect of massage on normalizing blood glucose. One trial also assessed the improvement in 56% of cases of diabetic neuropathy of the lower extremities by syncardial massage.

Massage has been demonstrated to reduce muscle tension in both subjective self-reports and objective electromyographic testing. Relaxation from massage has been demonstrated to be greater than that brought about from rest alone. Massage can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, two features of the relaxation response. The extreme stress-reducing benefits of massage have raised the possibility that massage may be of benefit to people with diabetes by including the relaxation response, thereby controlling the counter-regulatory stress hormones and permitting the body to use insulin more effectively.”

Massage therapy can truly help people living with diabetes manage their symptoms and live more comfortably with their disease, as a drug-free, noninvasive, and minimal-risk pain management option.

Kick Butts! How Massage Can Help You Stop Smoking!

Kick Butts! How Massage Can Help You Stop Smoking!

The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to make a plan to quit smoking, or to plan in advance and quit on that day. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

In the early stages of smoking cessation, people often experience an uncomfortable gap between their body and mind. Therapeutic massage can bridge that gap, and is a powerful adjunct treatment in the process of quitting nicotine.

Integrating massage into a smoking cessation program has advantages in all stages of overcoming nicotine addiction: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. Medical researcher Norman S. Miller notes that medical management of cessation often is not sufficient to produce sustained abstinence from recurrent use.

Massage treatment reduces the tendency to relapse. Massage is crucial initially, as it effectively helps the person get through this most vulnerable phase of quitting. This can be a powerful – even life-changing – experience for clients, as it helps them feel good while remaining nicotine-free.

On a physical level, the enhanced circulation that results from massage also helps during detox. Increased blood and lymphatic flow promotes an efficient exchange of oxygen and nutrients into the body’s tissues, and the removal of toxins and metabolic waste products, including nicotine and the other toxins contained in tobacco products.

On an emotional level, part of a smoker’s recovery process is learning to identify and manage the feelings and situations that trigger tobacco use. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of the stressors that cause body tension and trigger the urge to smoke. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing and healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings. Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, providing a safe, non-threatening way to manage stress and emotions without the aid of nicotine.

Massage has the unique ability to affect all levels of our being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As a valuable component when integrated into addiction treatment, massage helps smokers succeed in quitting smoking.

Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

MASSAGE THERAPY FOR CANCER PATIENTS

 Note: READ THE FINE PRINT! The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only. Working in this field must be done within scope of practice, in appropriate medical partnership, and with adequate education, training and experiencer

“The patient’s body must be touched with hands of peace, whispered to, reverently anointed, and handled as if it is a delicate flower.”Gayle McDonald, author of Medicine Hands: Massage Therapy for People with Cancer.

As massage therapy integrates with conventional medicine, more research is emerging on how bodywork can positively affect the course of cancer. Specialized training, awareness of the risks, protocols and modalities of massage therapy for a person with cancer is crucial for therapists before treating an oncology patient. We require written approval of the patient’s physician before starting treatment. We avoid deep tissue work until we receive a physician’s report that the cancer is in remission.

Benefits

Regular massage therapy during and after cancer treatment provides the following benefits:

Improves blood circulation

Balances blood pressure

Relieves fatigue and nausea

Appropriate bodywork includes lymph drainage, trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy, myotherapy and myofascial release, energy work such as Reiki or Healing Touch.

Appropriateness

Skilled touch is beneficial at nearly every stage of the cancer experience: hospitalization, pre- and post-operative, outpatient care, during chemo and radiation, recovery at home, remission or cure, and during the end stage of life. Regardless of how severe the side effects of cancer treatment, there is always a way to increase the patient’s comfort with some type of touch therapy. It is crucial to have a qualified practitioner who has been trained in working with cancer patients.

Cautions and Contraindications

Cancer treatment places a heavy toxin load on the body, which massage can help eliminate. With a low white blood cell count, the immune system is vulnerable to external pathogens. Until immunity recovers, introduction of germs can have devastating consequences. Therefore, extreme attention to hygiene should be practiced in the treatment of cancer patients. Light pressure is always used, because low platelet count renders the patient vulnerable to bruising or internal bleeding.

Because weakness and fatigue are common during treatment, a conventional 60-minute massage session may be too long and arduous. More frequent but shorter sessions, 20 minutes or less, are a more realistic and beneficial goal.

Traditional cancer therapies can dehydrate the body, thus the typical use of IV fluids. With a shortage of fluids to flush out any toxins released by bodywork, a massage that is too intense can maximize stress on the liver and kidneys, and can trigger a toxic reaction. Again, brief, light sessions can circumvent this issue.

The theory that massage may cause metastasis is no longer considered a threat. Science now understands that cancer spreads due to genetic mutation, and not by mechanical means such as massage or exercise. However, it is still crucial to recognize there sometimes are contraindications. For example, a therapist shouldn’t work directly on a site of radiation, tumor or lymphedema, without special training. Heat application is contraindicated if the patient has high blood pressure or a heart condition concurrent with cancer.

At Pacific Massage Services, we offer a variety of services that can be combined into customised treatment plans for each client’s individual needs. We provide in-home services for patients and office appointments for family and caregivers. Special programs & pricing available.

Information and appointments: 808.885.4459 ~ pacmsg@gmail.com

Medications for Cancer

Because oncology medications are so numerous and complex, it is beyond the scope of this publication to discuss individual drugs. We research each cancer patient’s medications on a case-by-case basis for cautions and contraindications to massage therapy, and proceed with treatment only if deemed safe and appropriate, according to our research sources.

Protocols

We recommend and utilize four primary elements of protocol for cancer patients:

  1. Permission of physician
  2. Communication with patients & physicians
  3. Documentation of each treatment
  4. Compassion for patients & loved ones

Working with this population is not only challenging, but requires specialized training. Any cancer patient desiring massage should be sure to choose a therapist who is trained in the physiological, mental and emotional components of cancer illness and treatment.

Gentle massage is the most effective, well-known complementary therapy for cancer patients. Research on its efficacy indicates that massage: decreases pain, improves vitality, improves organ function and benefits emotional mood. As our understanding of the benefits of touch for cancer broadens, massage therapy for this population is increasingly in demand.

 

Our Principal Therapist, Donna Thomas, is trained and certified in Therapeutic & Palliative Massage for Cancer Patients, through Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, New York City, 1996. She has worked extensively with cancer patients for over 20 years.

October is Massage Therapy Month!

October is Massage Therapy Month!

Related imageMassage is one of the oldest healing arts. Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching.

As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, headaches, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

INJURY. Were you injured at home, at work or in your car? Whether your pain is from a recent injury or you’ve had that nagging ache for a while, massage therapy can give you relief and comfort!

HEADACHES. Do you miss out on work and play because of frequent or severe headaches? Our targeted approach treats migraine and tension headaches with great results!

INSOMNIA. Does insomnia keep you from feeling and functioning your best? Regular massage can put an end to those sleepless nights so you are more energetic and more effective!

SURGERY. If you have soreness, stiffness or poor scar healing after surgery, our post-op massage series can accelerate healing, relieve pain and minimize scarring!

STRESS. Anxiety, depression or stress got you down? Massage therapy is proven to balance endorphin and cortisol production to boost your mood and brighten your outlook on life!

JOINT PAIN. Do have pain in your muscles or joints? Our special techniques can alleviate pain from fatigue, repetitive use, over-exertion, arthritis and more!

CHRONIC CONDITION. Does a chronic fatigue condition such as fibromyalgia limit your activities and reduce your fullest enjoyment of life? We can help with soothing, energizing massage and adjunct services.

PREGNANCY. The childbearing year is filled with joy, anticipation, aches and pains! Relieve the discomforts of pregnancy while lying face our special down on our special pregnancy massage table!

Massage is beneficial for many discomforts from a variety of conditions. CALL US TODAY to learn whether massage therapy is right for you! For the entire month of October, we offer SPECIAL PRICING for our Fall program – Tune-In and Tune-Up with Massage! 808.885.4459.

September is Healthy Aging Month!

September is Healthy Aging Month!

“The use of touch may be the most important way to communicate to aged persons that they are still important as human beings.” Ashley Montague. Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin.

SImage result for september is healthy aging montheptember is Healthy Aging Month®, an annual observance that focuses attention on the issues of aging. Simple, gentle touch can stimulate aging minds and bodies, and it can help minimize discomfort in the elderly years.

Touch therapies are ancient healing modalities which became lost in the maze of modern medical technology. Recently there is a revival of massage as a complementary therapy in caregiving for the elderly. Age-appropriate, gentle massage is effective in providing comfort care and in enhancing quality of life.

Massage therapy is well-known for its ability to reduce muscle tension, relieve pain, increase circulation and induce the relaxation response. Research has shown that massage stimulates Image result for massage for elderlyendorphin production (the “natural high” hormone), boosts the immune system and enhances healing after injury or surgery.

 A skilled massage therapist who is trained in working with the elderly can notice and report subtle changes in the physical body, which can be crucial in preventing potential life-threatening conditions.

Massage decreases pain, even if pain is the symptom of a broader problem. So while massage doesn’t cure osteoarthritis, for example, it can decrease the symptoms and significantly reduce pain by keeping joints more mobile, stimulating synovial fluid and stimulating blood and lymph circulation to affected areas.

Massage also benefits skin health by stimulating cellular function in the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis to prevent decubitus ulcers, along with enhanced tissue elasticity.

Caring touch is a powerful acknowledgment to the individual that, regardless of the condition of the physical body, he or she is still a part of the human race, and still has value as a whole human being. This is healing in its true and deepest sense.

Massage for Golfers! Got Kinks from the Links?

Massage for Golfers! Got Kinks from the Links? 

Image result for national golf monthAugust is National Golf Month! Tell all the golfers you know about our Golfer’s Advantage Treatments, with exclusive offers and special prices on services and gift certificates for the entire month of August!

As one of the most popular sports in the world, golf has about 30 million people in the game worldwide, and 13 million in the US. Once considered a “mind game,” with much attention on strategy and mental focus, golfers are coming to understand the body’s vital role in playing their best game.

Today’s golfers need to have a well-developed upper body as well as general strength, endurance and fitness. Injuries can arise from weak muscles, exacerbated by poor technique, unbalanced posture and repetitive movement.

Many professional golfers receive and recommend regular massage treatments to help prevent little aches from becoming a big pain in the you-know-what.

Whether a big-bucks pro, a seasoned amateur or a hopeful novice, there are some common ailments among golfers.

Most significantly, because golf is a one-sided activity, the body’s musculature is used in an unbalanced way. This results in more strain on one side of the body, depending on right- or left-side dominance, posture, technique and other variable factors. A therapeutic massage, given by a therapist trained in golf injuries, can correct this imbalance by assessing and treating the affected areas and educating the golfer in stretching and exercises customized for their individual situation.

The most frequently-occurring golf injury is “golfer’s elbow,” clinically known as medial epicondylitis. It affects a golfer’s swing, as well as causing severe pain with elbow, wrist and hand movements. Treating golfer’s elbow should be in the repertoire of any good massage therapist who specializes in golf injuries.

Other significant problem areas are shoulders and hips, where repetitive strain, inflammation, swelling and pain can develop. Left untreated, this type of injury can worsen to the point of affecting a golfer’s game – or taking him out of the game entirely!

The feet, ankles, legs, gluteals and back all affect the stability, power and precision of the golfer’s stance and swing. The goal of golf massage is to signal the brain to relax contracted muscles, stimulate blood and lymph to prevent soreness, soothe inflammation, relieve pain and prevent injury.

There is a difference in the type of injuries suffered by amateur and professional golfers. Amateurs are more prone to muscle strain, golfer’s elbow, calf and hip issues. Pro players’ primary problem is pelvic imbalance.

What should a player expect from a specialized golfer’s massage? A typical treatment is a 60-90 minute deep tissue treatment targeting the golfer’s particular problem, as well as assessing and treating legs, hips, low back and shoulders. Extra attention is focused on the dominant arm to treat or prevent golfer’s elbow.

When should a golfer receive massage? This depends on a golfer’s individual situation. Massage prior to playing is recommended in the case of tight muscles and restricted movement. Treatment after a game helps prevent pain, stiffness and injury.

Says golf pro John Fischer, “The reason most people play golf is for the relaxation is offers. It’s a wonderful stress-reducer, provides plenty of exercise in a beautiful setting and it’s just plain fun!”

Of course, golfers want to play their best and enjoy their favorite game as painlessly as possible. That’s where massage therapy enters the game! And some therapists even use golf balls to do part of the treatment!

Kids Can Have Arthritis Too

Kids Can Have Arthritis Too

In recognition of July as Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, we share this information about this painful disease that affects children and teens.

Image result for juvenile arthritis monthArthritis isn’t just one disorder. It’s a complicated set of musculoskeletal disorders made up from over 100 different diseases or conditions that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues. The symptoms cause pain, limit movement, and can halt an otherwise active person’s life.

In the US, almost 300,000 of those affected by arthritis are kids. Juvenile arthritis (JA) is a broad way to describe a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger. The cause is unknown and it can appear in many different ways.

Children Can Be Diagnosed With Arthritis

We usually associate arthritis with middle-aged and elderly adults, not children and teenagers. Stiff joints, pain and swelling for more than 6 weeks are associated with arthritis. Eyes, skin and the gastrointestinal tract can also be affected in children. It is an autoimmune disorder, meaning the body is attacking itself instead of a foreign body such as a virus. If your child or teen seems to always have a tummy ache and complains of joint pain it could be a good idea to visit your doctor for a chat.

There is No Known Cause

Parents of children with a JA diagnosis wonder “What caused this?” Unfortunately the answer is usually, “We don’t know for sure.” Researchers are looking at genetic and environmental factors which may contribute to the development of JA, but they have found no specific cause. There isn’t one single blood test to diagnose. Studies are trying to determine if siblings of children with JA will also develop symptoms.

Common Signs of Juvenile Arthritis

Complaints of painful knees, hands, feet, neck, or jaw common symptoms. This pain is common first thing in the morning or upon waking from naps. Arthritis pain tends to appear slowly, not suddenly like an injury.

Stiffness in the joints is another sign of arthritis. Usually the stiffness will be worse in the morning but improve with movement throughout the day. Some children may stop doing certain things. Has your toddler stopped using utensils to eat when he has been wielding a fork for months? See if you can determine if he’s in pain or just exploring with his fingers.

Swelling of a joint or joints is a strong sign a child might need an evaluation. The joint may be hot to the touch, as well. Often a child with JA will develop fevers with fatigue but no other symptoms of illness.

Treatments for Juvenile Arthritis

Even though there is no cure for JA, doctors will have a treatment plan for each patient. Treatments may include medication, physical therapy, nutrition, and eye care. One patient may respond well with medication while others may do better with movement or physical therapy. The whole family will work together in an effort to maintain normalcy for the patient. Adjustments to schedules may happen, but there’s no need to quit living life altogether.

Massage as a Treatment

We all know massage feels great on sore muscles, but can it help with the stiffness of arthritis? Maybe! We know massage can have a positive effect on blood pressure and anxiety. A study at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey looked at people with osteoarthritis of the knee. The people who received a Swedish (or relaxation) massage twice a week for 8 weeks reported improvement in pain levels and function.

Massage for children and teens can be beneficial in many ways. Regular massage helps manage painful symptoms and can help improve self-awareness, self-image, and self-confidence. Parents can even work with a massage therapist to learn soothing techniques to apply at home. Massage for arthritis is usually gentle and soothing with a warm touch, perfect for use by any parent trying to help his or her child.

With this list of signs you may learn how to spot the signs of something more serious than a case of the childhood “I don’t want-tos.” Chronic pain is no fun, but it can be harder to deal with if no one knows it’s happening. Juvenile arthritis is a real issue with real symptoms. If spotted and treated early, it doesn’t have to mean an end to the active life your child deserves.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a massage for your child (or yourself!), please contact us by phone: 808.885.4459 or email: pacmsg@gmail.com

Massage Therapy for Headaches

Massage Therapy for Headaches

Image result for headacheJune is Migraine Awareness Month. Fifty million Americans have chronic headaches – the most common pain problem reported to physicians, ranging in severity from annoying to debilitating. Massage therapy can help significantly with the 3 most common types of chronic headaches.

At Pacific Massage Services we assess whether a patient’s headache might indicate a life-threatening condition, such as tumor, meningitis, aneurysm or head trauma. During intake of a headache patient, we ask the following questions:

• Is this the first headache you’ve ever had?
• Is this the worst headache you’ve had?
• Is this one very different from your usual headaches?
• Do you also have other symptoms, ie fever, body pain, earache, dizziness, confusion, stiff neck?
• Have you had a recent head trauma?

 A “yes” answer to any of these questions results in an immediate referral to the patient’s physician to rule out a serious problem. Massage is contraindicated for a headache due to infection, recent head trauma or central nervous system injury.

Another important question we ask is: Could you be dehydrated? With insufficient water, the salinity, and thus osmotic pressure, of the cerebrospinal fluid in the cranium rises. This painful head pressure can be relieved by drinking an adequate amount of water.

Image result for headacheOnce we have established that the headache does not seem to involve another condition, we determine the type of headache to help us select the most effective treatment. There are three main types of chronic headaches:

1. Tension Headache – Characterized by tension and pain in neck, shoulders, head, face, TMJ; feels like a tight cap squeezing the entire head.

2. Vascular Headache – Deep throbbing pain from excessively dilated blood vessels in the meninges, causing migraine and cluster headaches.

3. Inflammatory – Accompanies sinus infection, URI or UR allergy; constant, deep facial pain, often exacerbated by movement.

A structural imbalance is often the root cause of chronic headaches. While massaging tense muscles can bring temporary relief, correcting a structural imbalance can bring long-term relief from chronic headaches. Two factors influence a successful massage treatment:

1. Release of contracted muscles: Skilled massage therapists release the upper thoracic fascia, the contracted musculature of all cervical and upper thoracic muscles, and all  skeletal attachments. Muscle tension constricts blood flow to these muscles and to the head. This combination of muscle spasm and inadequate blood supply is the primary cause of pain in tension headaches.

2. Structural Alignment: Back, neck and shoulder tension often creates a structural imbalance, as can treatment to these muscles alone. So we balance upper back work by including lower back massage; and posterior work by also releasing anterior and lateral muscular structures, thus allowing any structural or postural misalignment to rebalance. The correction of postural deviation is often all that is needed to prevent future headaches. For vascular headaches, structural realignment has the additional benefit of improving the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and blood to the head, giving long-lasting benefits for the relief of vascular headaches.

In addition to hands-on treatment, at Pacific Massage Services, we also counsel patients on postural causes of headache, such as long hours of driving, or phone or computer work. We make suggestions for improvement, for example: placing the computer monitor at eye level and use of ergonomic seating. As well, we advise patients on lifestyle changes such as sufficient water intake and possible dietary causes. When appropriate, we recommend stretching, exercise, chiropractic care, physical therapy, nutritional counseling or medical attention.

Massage Improves Sleep!

Massage Improves Sleep!

In recognition of May as National Sleep Awareness Month, we present information on the effects of massage therapy on insomnia.

 “We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep…” – William Shakespeare (The Tempest. Shakespeare was probably not thinking of insomnia when he wrote that line. But to millions of insomniacs, sleep is as illusive as a dream.

Image result for massage for insomniaThere is a sleep crisis in our culture. Sleep does not come easily to alarmingly large numbers of people. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) “Sleep in America” Poll, 74% of adult respondents claim they experience at least one of these 4 symptoms of insomnia 3-7 nights per week:

– Difficulty falling asleep

– Waking frequently during the night

– Waking and unable to return to sleep

– Waking up tired and unrefreshed

35% of respondents reported at least one of these four symptoms every night during the past year. 37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with their daytime activities and alertness.

Chronic insomnia is poor sleep every night or most nights for more than six months. This endless cycle can cause extreme fatigue, problems with concentration and can adversely affect a person’s mood and well-being. Recurring insomnia should be evaluated by a healthcare professional or a sleep disorder specialist.

The neurochemistry of sleep is very complex. While there are many aspects of the brain and its chemicals that contribute to sleep, there seems to be a significant relationship between the serotonin component of sleep and its relationship to massage therapy

The crucial neurotransmitter serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin, released by the pineal gland to quiet and reset the part of the brain that directs circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain was conducted in by the Touch Research Institute in conjunction with the University of Miami School of Medicine and Educating Hands School of Massage, and originally published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2001. It demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage relaxes the muscles, improves circulation, soothes the nervous system and increases production of pain-killing endorphins. It can also reduce the tension from daily stresses that lead to a night of tossing and turning, as well as daytime anxiety, drowsiness and poor performance. Therapeutic massage can help with sleep disorders that have a neuromuscular origin such as pain, tension, muscle spasms and Restless Legs Syndrome.

Insomnia is common problem for hospitalized patients. Massage has been useful as an adjunct or alternative option to prescription sleep medications in hospitals. A study conducted by the University of Arkansas with hospitalized critically ill elderly men concluded that back massage is useful for promoting sleep in this population.

Restless babies and children may also benefit from a massage by sleeping more peacefully. In one study of children and adolescents, those who participated in a 30-minute massage daily for five days slept longer and more soundly.

In addition to helping an infant sleep, the “calming touch” of a parent establishes a valuable opportunity to soothe and nurture the baby. As little as 15 minutes of massage a day significantly affects infant sleep patterns with deeper sleep of longer duration.

Massage is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia.