Category Archives: Women’s Health

Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

MASSAGE THERAPY FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Note: The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only. Working in this field must be done within scope of practice, in conventional medical partnership, and with adequate education and training.

“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 Relieves fatigue and nauseaRelieves fatigue and nausea

physician’s report that the cancer is in remission.

Benefits

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

Relieves fatigue and nausea

Improves blood circulation

Balances blood pressure

Improves sleep

Calms the mind

Reduces stress

Appropriate bodywork includes lymph drainage, trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy, myotherapy and myofascial release, and 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 customized 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, 1998. She has worked extensively with cancer patients for over 20 years.

Massage Therapy for Heart Health

Massage Therapy for Heart Health

Image result for february heart health monthIn recognition of February as American Heart Month, we feature the benefits of massage therapy for cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association reported that about 18 million people in the United States have heart disease.

Stress is a proven major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Staying in this state for a prolonged amount of time is a common problem in our stressful modern society, and increases the likelihood of developing or worsening heart disease. Stress speeds up the heartbeat, increases breathing rate and causes blood vessels to narrow in diameter.

A regular and consistent massage regimen can reduce the risks associated with stress. Studies have shown that consistent massage helps reduce the risk of heart attack. Massage therapy relaxes contracted muscles and assists the veins in moving blood through the circulatory system, thus reducing strain on the heart. Research also reveals that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increases blood circulation.

A pilot study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed that inpatient massage treatments performed after heart bypass surgery reduced pain levels, decreased the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and improved sleep.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified or is a member of a massage therapy professional association, such as AMTA or ABMP.

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping the cardiovascular system feel better and function better! 808.885.4459. http://www.PacificMassageServices.com 

The Benefits of Breast Massage

The Benefits of Breast Massage

In recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this month’s feature shares how massage can improve the quality of breast health.

Image result for breast massageBreast massage is an effective means to maintain health of the breasts. According to the Texas Institute of Functional Medicines, breast massage is the act of slowly kneading and stroking the breasts, using varying amounts of mild to moderate pressure in gentle lifting and compressive movements. It can be done as self-massage or with help from a partner or therapist. While the primary purpose is to clear the lymphatic system of toxins that can disrupt health, breast massage also has cosmetic and therapeutic uses.

Let’s take a closer look at the many benefits of breast massage:

Therapeutic Benefits

Breast massage is also beneficial for breast pain. Whether the pain is caused by surgery, pregnancy, milk production, mastitis, cysts, or an unknown cause, a soft, gentle massage can be therapeutic and soothing. According to the AyurvedicCure.com, “Simply rubbing an area can have a demonstrable analgesic effect.” Massage eases soreness in the tissues, reduces pain and swelling in the breasts, and relaxes tightness or tension in the ligaments. Breast massage is particularly useful in soothing the pain associated with breast scarring from infection or surgery .

Health Benefits

There are also health benefits associated with using breast massage as a dependable means of flushing out toxins from the body’s lymphatic system. Toxic buildup from poor circulation is believed to increase the risk of cancer. Stimulating drainage of the breasts’ lymphatic and blood circulation eliminates harmful waste products and allows nutrient-rich blood to flow to the breast tissue.

Prevention Benefits

As nice as it is to have a healthy, attractive bust line, there are more serious issues to consider than appearance. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there were 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 40,170 deaths from breast cancer in 2009., with these numbers increasing each year. It is important to become familiar with the shape and feel of normal breast tissue in order to detect any abnormalities that may develop over time. Early detection could be life-saving!

Appearance Benefits

Massage is useful in maintaining breast shape and to prevent sagging. According to the AyurvedicCure.com, breast massage stimulates circulation, which is necessary for keeping breast tissue healthy. Massage also helps break up benign cysts, strengthens the muscle tissue of the chest, builds resiliency in the ligaments and firms the skin. With regular massage, the breasts will remain firmer for longer and less likely to sag. The result is a more attractive bust line.

Regular breast massage, together with monthly self-exams, is a good way to check the breasts for changes or irregularities. With breast cancer being one of the most common cancers among women in the United States, it is crucial to take care of this important aspect of health.

Every woman who visits us for therapeutic massage during the month of October may receive a complimentary lesson in self-massage for breast health!

Massage Therapy for Breastfeeding Success

Massage Therapy for Breastfeeding Success

In acknowledgement of August 1-7 as World Breastfeeding Awareness Week, we offer information and support with massage therapy for breast health in nursing mothers.

Image result for breastfeedingBreastfeeding is by far the best, most natural and most nutritious way to feed your baby. But getting started with breastfeeding can be a little intimidating and even painful at first. Knowing how to prepare the breasts both prior to delivery and in the early days of nursing will prevent or reduce painful cracked nipples and breast engorgement.

Benefits of Breast Massage

Breast health for nursing mothers ideally should begin during pregnancy. Preparing the nipples helps prevent tenderness and cracking after the new mother begins nursing her infant, making the experience more successful and comfortable for both mother and baby.

Massaging the breasts enhances blood circulation and helps prepare abundant milk production for the newborn. Clear milk ducts allow the milk to flow more freely, generates more milk production and reduces the risk of engorgement (clogged milk ducts) and is especially useful for the prevention of mastitis (painful breast inflammation).

Breast tissue contains a complex network of lymph and blood vessels. Unlike other areas of the body, the breasts lack sources of external compression, such as muscles or a strong overlying frontal structure, to promote the flow of blood and lymph. As a result, these fluids can stagnate, causing blocked milk ducts, engorgement, mastitis and low milk production.

Gentle massage techniques can be used to aid fluid circulation. Massage therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment for breasts, as they need good circulation and tissue mobilization for optimum health. Breast massage just before feeding increases the fat content, making the milk more nutritious for the baby. It also stimulates letdown and eases expression of milk, allowing easier nursing for the baby and more comfort for the mother.

Breast massage tones the underlying muscles and ligaments that support the breast, to minimize sagging, stretch marks and scarring.

Simple Breast Self-Massage Routine

1. Thoroughly wash hands before each massage.

Image result for breast self-massage2. Use a natural lubricant for massage, without any petroleum products or chemical additives such as fragrance and color. There are several lotions specifically formulated to safe breast massage. Coconut or olive oil is also a natural and safe choice.

3. Apply oil or lotion into one hand and then rub hands together to distribute the oil on both hands.

4. Gently pump (squeeze) each armpit to stimulate the lymph glands and assist efficient blood flow into the breasts. Heavy pressure could damage the sensitive glandular tissue, so use a gentle but firm touch. It should be comfortable, not painful.

5. Gently massage each breast with your fingertips or palms, alternating hands using a combined squeezing and stroking motion, from the outer perimeter towards the nipple.

6. Gently squeeze and stroke each nipple with the fingertips for 2-5 minutes.

7. Cleanse the nipples after each breast massage, before nursing the baby.

More Tips

In the newborn phase, while beginning with breastfeeding, massage should be done prior to each feeding. Once mother and baby are accustomed to nursing, frequency can be reduced to once a day. A good time for daily breast massage is while bathing.

In addition to breast massage, general body massage by a Licensed Massage Therapist is also recommended during and after pregnancy, for an easier delivery and to help speed recovery from childbirth. It also alleviates fatigue and sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that a one-hour full-body massage gives the physiological equivalent of 3 hours sleep for the body and brain.

Body massage relieves backaches and leg cramps caused by pregnancy and delivery. It also helps relieve the shoulder, upper back and arm pain that occurs while the mother’s body adjusts to new positions and postures of carrying and nursing a baby. Massage can help alleviate the anxiety and stress of adapting to the huge lifestyle changes of having a new baby, as well as help prevent postpartum depression. And finally, Infant Massage helps parents bond with their baby, ease the discomforts of colic and promote healthy sleep.

At Pacific Massage Services, we offer treatments and teaching of breast massage and Infant Massage. Our Gift Certificates make a perfect baby shower or new baby gift! It is our honor and privilege to help make breastfeeding the most successful and comfortable it can be for both mother and baby! We invite you to call us for more info or to schedule a session: 808.885.4459.

Massage for Cardiovascular Conditions

Massage for Cardiovascular Conditions

To acknowledge February as American Heart Month – created to educate the public about cardiovascular disease – we offer the following information on massage for specific cardiovascular conditions.

According to the Heart Foundation.org about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death among women.

Many people with heart disease can benefit greatly from receiving massage. The main benefit is stress reduction, which in turn can help mitigate complications of heart disease. But there are certain types of massage that can possibly cause serious damage. You need to be sure you’re in a knowledgeable practitioner’s hands to make sure you are safe.

Because there are so many different types of cardiovascular conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your complete health history must be considered before making a decision. If you have a medical condition, you should always talk to your doctor before deciding to embark on a personal massage program.

The following cardiovascular conditions may be helped or prevented with the appropriate massage treatment from a qualified professional:

Blood thinner medications cause the body to be more sensitive and in some cases, even fragile. Deep tissue massage on a patient taking blood thinners can cause inflammation, bruising, and tissue or organ damage, including bruised kidneys. Gentle massage is generally the best choice in this case.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is a life-threatening disease that is closely linked to stress, diet and exercise. Massage may be just the thing to help you manage stress and subsequently your high blood pressure. The opposite condition, low blood pressure, is also a concern, and because massage can lower blood pressure, you may feel a bit lightheaded just after receiving a massage, until the blood pressure returns to normal. Sitting up gradually before standing after a massage will help normalize blood pressure.

A blood clot is a mass of coagulated blood entrapped within a blood vessel and impedes the flow of blood to and from the heart and other body areas. Individuals with a history of blood clots should avoid deep massage, which could possibly dislodge a clot and release it into the blood stream. In a worst-case scenario, this can induce a stroke or heart attack.

A pacemaker is a medical device that uses electrical impulses to regulate the heartbeat. If an individual has a pacemaker, stent, or any kind of apparatus implanted into a vein or artery, the therapist must avoid pressing over that area so as not to dislodge or damage the device or surrounding tissues. But the massage can usually be safely done on the rest of the body.

Massage can usually be beneficial for someone who has arrhythmia or a disruption in the heart rate, if that is the only health concern. This is especially true if the arrhythmia is induced by stress.

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow to meet the needs of the body. Patients with this condition should avoid vigorous massage or massages that are longer than 15-20 minutes. This is because massage will shift the flow of blood to the organs, which may create a greater burden for the heart. Start with brief 5-10 minute massage sessions, and gradually lengthen to tolerance.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified through the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) or is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association (www.amtamassage.org).

With a little bit of homework, you can find a therapist who is experienced and knows how to keep you safe. If they ask about your medications and medical history, this is one indication that you are on the right track. Interview them on the phone before making an appointment and check their credentials. You can even ask your doctor to consult with your therapist.

Each therapist has varying levels of training, awareness and experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist’s qualifications, and what they’re going to do during the massage. While you’re receiving massage, continue to ask questions as they come up. If at any time during your treatment, the massage hurts or feels uncomfortable, you should speak up. Everyone has different levels of comfort and tolerance and a good therapist wants your session to be right for you.

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being.

At Pacific Massage Services, our staff therapists are trained and experienced in massage for many different medical conditions. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping your cardiovascular system feel better and function better!

Breast Massage Saves Lives!

Breast Massage Saves Lives!

In recognition of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this month’s feature shares how massage can improve the quality of breast health.

Breast massage is an effective means to maintain health of the breasts. According to the Texas Institute of Functional Medicines, breast massage is the act of slowly kneading and stroking the breasts, using varying amounts of mild to moderate pressure in gentle lifting and compressive movements. It can be done as self-massage or with help from a partner or therapist. While the primary purpose is to clear the lymphatic system of toxins that can disrupt health, breast massage also has cosmetic and therapeutic uses.

Let’s take a closer look at the many benefits of breast massage:

Appearance Benefits

Massage is useful in maintaining breast shape and to prevent sagging. According to the AyurvedicCure.com, breast massage stimulates circulation, which is necessary for keeping breast tissue healthy. Massage also helps break up benign cysts, strengthens the muscle tissue of the chest, builds resiliency in the ligaments and firms the skin. With regular massage, the breasts will remain firmer for longer and less likely to sag. The result is a more attractive bust line.

Therapeutic Benefits

Breast massage is also beneficial for breast pain. Whether the pain is caused by surgery, pregnancy, milk production, mastitis, cysts, or an unknown cause, a soft, gentle massage can be therapeutic and soothing. According to the AyurvedicCure.com, “Simply rubbing an area can have a demonstrable analgesic effect.” Massage eases soreness in the tissues, reduces pain and swelling in the breasts, and relaxes tightness or tension in the ligaments. Breast massage is particularly useful in soothing the pain associated with breast scarring from infection or surgery .

Health Benefits

There are also health benefits associated with using breast massage as a dependable means of flushing out toxins from the body’s lymphatic system. Toxic buildup from poor circulation is believed to increase the risk of cancer. Stimulating drainage of the breasts’ lymphatic and blood circulation eliminates harmful waste products and allows nutrient-rich blood to flow to the breast tissue.

Prevention Benefits

As nice as it is to have a healthy, attractive bust line, there are more serious issues to consider than appearance. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there were 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 40,170 deaths from breast cancer in 2009, with these numbers increasing each year. Self-massage and breast massage performed by a professional are both key components in early detection of any lumps or irregularities in a woman’s breast tissue. It is important to become familiar with the shape and feel of normal breast tissue to detect any abnormalities that may develop over time. Early detection could be life-saving!

Regular breast massage, together with monthly self-exams, is a good way to check the breasts for changes or irregularities. With breast cancer being one of the most common cancers among women in the United States, it is crucial to take care of this important aspect of health.