Benefits of Oncology Massage
No one looks forward to hearing that they have a cancer diagnosis. It can be a traumatic time for people of all ages who receive this news; however, hope is in sight. Massage therapy can help patients relax mind, body and spirit during these trying times and can allow those affect really seek peace. Oncology massage involves many of the same manipulation and kneading techniques as other types of massage, for example, Swedish style or deep tissue, but with a few modifications to make the massage safe and useful for cancer patients.
While oncology massage cannot treat or cure cancer it still can have a plethora of benefits that are worth exploring. Massage therapy can feel wholesome and can help reduce the stress and anxiety not just of everyday life, but those coping with a cancer diagnosis. Massage is designed to relax tense muscles, and may increase the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel good chemical.
Massage therapy can also improve circulation and sleep habits. For patients with aggressive forms of cancer, such as mesothelioma, this relaxation can really assist the patient to cope with the intensity of cancer treatments that may be required. Oncology massage may also help reduce the perception of pain related to cancer and cancer treatments. However, it is key to consult a doctor about finding the right treatment for you and your cancer because massage therapy may not be the answer for everyone.
Oncology patients should choose a massage therapist with extreme care. In addition to being trained and licensed, in states where this is applicable, it is also important that the therapist be trained in oncology massage. Some massage schools offer continuing education courses, or entire areas of study, in this topic. Cancer patients do have slightly different needs than the general population and any massage therapists working with cancer patients need to be aware of the needs and restrictions of those with cancer.
For example, if a client has radiation dermatitis or open wounds, these areas must be avoided due to the risk of infection and lowered immunity of those going through cancer treatments. Also, certain medications, like blood thinners, can cause patients to bruise and bleed more easily. If cancer has metastasized to bone, this area needs to be avoided, not only because of the risk of massaging over tumors, but because the bone itself is weaker and easily fractured.
Article posted on Mesothelioma blog by Melanie L. Bowen.
Many cancers centers offer massage therapy as one of their services; some private therapists, spas or general physician offices also have facilities.
One of the most important aspects of oncology massage, in addition to having a therapist who is properly educated and trained, is frank discussion between massage therapist and client. It’s important that therapists make clients feel comfortable and able to speak freely, and that the therapist is clear on the client’s situation. For instance, what kind of cancer it is, where, what type of treatments or medications are being used, if any, as well as any other alternative modalities being utilized, like acupuncture.
Research is being done into the benefits of massage therapy, in general and in particular for patients with cancer. Studies done in the United States, Canada and the UK have shown conflicting results about the effectiveness of massage therapy in reducing long-term stress and anxiety while undergoing cancer treatments, but it appears that at least in the short term, massage therapy does provide a significant increase in relaxation immediately following massage. And let’s be honest, during a difficult time like while fighting cancer, isn’t any relief something to try for?
Patients should speak to their doctor about the risks versus benefits of getting oncology massage, and then take the time to find a massage therapist with the proper training to work with. If there are potential benefits in a safe and natural alternative to cancer treatments than why not give it a shot? Indulge yourself in a massage today and gain that needed peace of mind!